Things I didn't learn in teacher school (but should have)

Discussion in 'General Education' started by ms.irene, Mar 31, 2017.

  1. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    Spinoff from another thread...what things did you not learn in your teaching credential program that you should have known before entering the classroom?

    For starters....
    • how to create a seating chart
    • how to set up and troubleshoot an overhead projector/ELMO
    • how to improvise when the wifi/internet is down and none of the tech works
    • how to un-jam a copier
    • what to do when a bee/praying mantis/giant cricket/bird flies into your room (I have had all of the above)
    • how to have an actual work/life balance
    • what not to grade (aka how to properly implement the circular filing cabinet)
    • what to do when one student tries to stab another with a pencil
    • how to prevent 8th graders from trying to make out in the coat closet
    • how to discreetly tell your 8th graders they need to wear deodorant
    • how to leave work at work and handle stress
    ...the list could go on and on!
     
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  3. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

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    ,
     
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  4. justwanttoteach

    justwanttoteach Cohort

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    How to speak Spanish, Madrian, Sign Language, or any language other than your native language
    How to collect data for IEP goals in Gen Ed classes
    How to speak or what to do at Back to School Night
    How to speak or what to do at Open House
    How to plan, fundraise, and schedule a field trip and reserve a school bus
    How to have a student led parent teacher conference with students and parents who dont care
    How to keep kids from stealing your pens, pencils, markers, sharpies, stapler, and or wallet
    How to hide the "I have to PEE dance" while teaching
    How to keep from laughing when kids say the darndest things that you KNOW you shouldnt
    How to eat, grade papers, set up for class, and break up a fight in 25 mins or less
    How to have a "Come to Jesus" talk with a class
    How to do a kick ass surprise observation/evaluation without having a panic attack
    How to keep sarcasm out of the classroom (I seriously struggle)

    But that is just a start.....
     
  5. Teacher0909

    Teacher0909 Rookie

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    How to deal with unruly parents. I've never struggled in this area myself, but I know others who have and still do.
     
  6. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    Oh man. Everything I learned, I learned on-the-job.

    I mean, I learned how to theoretically teach kids how to read, but I think the professors assumed our entire class would be on grade-level.
     
  7. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    ...and cooperative, and without any of the emotional challenges that make learning difficult.
     
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  8. Secondary Teach

    Secondary Teach Companion

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    Yeah, and the fact that many professors don't even have or haven't been in the classroom in years!
    :)
     
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  9. heatherberm

    heatherberm Cohort

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    - all the things - or even some of the things - a SMART Board can do
    - how to make a phone call home (how to start a conversation, how to word things, etc.)
    - organization, especially on the special ed side of things, but really of paperwork and resources in general
    - and I'd definitely second grading - what to grade, how much to grade, how flexible to be with grades, etc.
     
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2017
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  10. justwanttoteach

    justwanttoteach Cohort

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    OMG the Smartboard makes me feel anything but smart! I second that!
     
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  11. rpan

    rpan Cohort

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    i agree with youngteacherguy. I learnt everything I know on the job. Everything. Uni taught me absolutely nothing on how to be a good teacher, behaviour manage, deal with parents, moderate assessments, write quality units of work etc. which is why first year teachers always find the first year hell.
     
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  12. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    That sometimes:
    - you just need to throw the plans out the window because there are more important things going on (and the world isn't going to end if you do this!)
    - your students need far more than academics from you
    - you won't get much done the first time it snows or when there's thunder and lightning outside
    - it's okay to say to your students that you don't know something or that you made a mistake
     
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  13. heatherberm

    heatherberm Cohort

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    I took a class in undergrad called "The Dynamics of Poverty," but it was a part of my social welfare minor. It, or something like it, should absolutely be required for education majors. It did as much - if not more - to prepare me for my teaching jobs so far than most of my education classes did.
     
  14. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

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    ,
     
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  15. AmyMyNamey

    AmyMyNamey Comrade

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    My professors didn't have the slightest idea what local schools were like.

    Things that should have been taught, but never were:

    • Crisis management
    • De-escalation techniques
    • Abnormal psychology
    • Child abuse, neglect, and poverty
    • Self-defense
    • Holds and take-downs
    • Writing grants, GoFundMe requests, etc.
    • Labor law
    • License application, renewal, care & maintenance.
    • Presentation, communication, and education technology
    • Social media use and related laws

    We wasted a lot of time studying dated education theories and practices, but never how we would need to teach when we hit the streets. Most of what we studied was either impractical, dated, or elementary garbage we could have just picked up in five minutes with a Google search.

    My teacher training program skipped the hard stuff, skipped everything I really needed on the job.
     
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  16. MsAbeja

    MsAbeja Companion

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    Classroom management, for sure. We received absolutely NO instruction on effective classroom management techniques. My university also made the mistake of not starting student teaching placements until a full WEEK after all the local schools started, so we didn't get to observe how our cooperating teachers handled the first days of school, or how they went about establishing classroom rules, consequences, procedures, etc. That is vital information!

    I also learned next to nothing about grading, except for some brief conversations about grading with a rubric. I worry that I'm grading too easy, That I'm not grading consistently between students, and that I'm giving too many grammar-based exams. But I haven't been taught anything else!

    My methods class was a joke. I was put into an online course geared towards the Teach For America cohort, and the "instructor" wasn't even an adjunct professor, but a TFA recent grad who had just recently completed the course she was supposed to be teaching to us. I learned nothing about proficiency levels, or the ACTFL standards, or anything, to be quite honest. I wish I had insisted that they put me in the regular methods course that met on campus, but I was pregnant at the time and I liked not having to go to the university every week after work, so it's partially my own fault.

    The experience has definitely changed the way I look at the Teach For America program, not that I was a fan of it before, but I'm even less of a fan after that course. What a joke.
     
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  17. renard

    renard Companion

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    How to deal with jerk co-workers, LOL. Seriously though, I wish I had realize how territorial some teachers were! I was fortunate to learn on my own early on, but I have seen arrogant or naive co-workers be destroyed because they didn't know how to deal with predators.
     
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2017
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  18. miss-m

    miss-m Devotee

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    ...I'm trying to think what I use in my teaching that I actually learned in college, and the only thing I can think of is running records. I learned a lot of things about child development and inquiry-based learning in school which are theoretically useful and occasionally practical.

    But yeah. Everything else about teaching that I needed to know I learned through a few experiences during student teaching, subbing, and from this year as a first-year teacher.

    I also graduated partly out of spite though, because I had professors and my cooperating teacher telling me that maybe I should reconsider teaching. I'm finding that I'm pretty decent at teaching, thank you very much!
     
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  19. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

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    :):thumbs:
     
  20. AmyMyNamey

    AmyMyNamey Comrade

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    Amen.

    They never told us about this at college! Let me add:

    • How to deal with difficult administrators.
    • Lice, fleas, bed bugs

    I'd like to see a class called "Lice, Fleas, and Bed Bugs."
     
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2017
  21. viola_x_wittrockiana

    viola_x_wittrockiana Comrade

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    Wow, after reading these posts I'm grateful I chose the school I attended. My program was great and covered a lot of this. I had a useful course on classroom management, both different practices and how to deal with the sh*tstorm that is poorly-implemented PBIS. I had to take "Tech for Teachers" which covered smartboards and elmos and MIDI interfaces and class websites. We had detailed discussions on grading and evaluation. I was in an instructional position in a classroom starting sophomore year. The majority of my professors were great; there's only two I can say were out-of-touch.
    The few things we didn't cover:
    • what to do when the kids are so far below grade level in reading that they can't access the textbook
    • how to navigate the state's PD credit system
    • what to do when one period has vastly different needs than another, but they're supposed to be doing the same work
    • what to do when parents deny and enable their child's behavior, even when shown video evidence
    • how to teach in a school with a high transfer rate
     
  22. miss-m

    miss-m Devotee

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    At my school this class would have to cover scabies as well. Kindergarten had an outbreak of scabies and bedbugs just before spring break.

    I got bit by a flea in my classroom during conferences, we had a cockroach find the breakfast tub one day, and I now have ants coming in the windows.

    Bugs. Just a class on bugs in the classroom.
     
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  23. MsAbeja

    MsAbeja Companion

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    Oh, this reminds me: we only had ONE workshop-style class that covered tech, taken during our student teaching semester. They had a guy who taught a tech class 4 years ago give a presentation, about some obsolete website-building platform that has totally been blown out of the water by weebly, google classroom, etc. The guy only taught his tech class for a year or two, anyhow, so I have no idea why they chose him. It was such a waste of time!
     
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  24. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    -How to deal with the only working copier in your building being used for an hour and a half long copy job because somebody is making 90 copies of a 50 page packet.
    -How to effectively clarify that, "Are there any questions?" is referring to what I'm teaching, not to whether or not it is possible that some dinosaurs are still alive and we just haven't found them yet.
    -How, when, and why to say no (and mean it!) to well-intentioned administrators who only see your red cape.
    -No, you may not use the bathroom as soon as I tell you to take out your math notebook literally every single day of the school year- Identifying the difference between the pee dance and the "I don't want to do [whatever the heck we're doing]" dance."
    -How to survive indoor recess without drinking enough booze that even Andre the Giant would think you might be overdoing it.
    -How to use whisper voices- Transferring what students know about whispering when they are in line or listening to a read-aloud to those times when you actually WANT them to whisper.
     
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  25. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    I did learn about dealing with lice, gradebooks, grading, differentiation, parent conferences, recording data, phonics, and setting up a classroom. I felt very prepared for my own classroom, but it is different putting those things we learned about into practice. I still had a first year learning curve.

    My college did not teach me everything I use today, but a lot of the technology we use now was not available, and, of course, methodologies published after I graduated could not have been taught.

    As teachers, we are always learning and growing so a teacher from a program that didn't teach practicalities can quickly pick those things up. It's a shame though that so many universities are letting people down. Professors should know that someday his/her students will deal with an unreasonable parent.
     
  26. WordLover

    WordLover Rookie

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    Classroom management takes the top of my list. Teacher prep programs should introduce student teachers to the Wongs' The First Days of School and Doug Lemov's Teach Like a Champion: fabulous, sanity-saving techniques. As for dealing with parents - I had one mother call me to unleash an enraged tirade because I referred her freshman son to the librarian's desk instead of finding his research sources myself.
     
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  27. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    How to teach a high-poverty population. Most of my students don't get breakfast in the morning and it's sometimes rough keeping them on task when they're hungry. I've learned to keep instant oatmeal and cheese sticks on hand.
     
  28. Bioguru

    Bioguru Companion

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    I'm probably being too harsh in my assessment, but I feel that my education classes were a complete waste of time. I learned more about teaching during my first week in a classroom than I did in all of my education courses.
     
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  29. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    A new one from Friday afternoon:

    How to react, or not react, when a student sees a mouse sitting on the counter within arm's reach of where you are sitting.

    o_O
     
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  30. FourSquare

    FourSquare Fanatic

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    I think teaching teachers how to be resourceful would have been helpful. When I got to my first classroom, I'd had all these plans involving curriculum, books, and paper. We didn't have anything besides 4 walls and some desks.
     
  31. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    How to plan effectively for diverse learners. I have yet to teach a class without a range of ability levels that spans less than 3 years between the lowest and the highest.
     
  32. FourSquare

    FourSquare Fanatic

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    I'm a diverse learners teacher and I don't even goddamn know how to do that well. It's so hard. :confused:
     
  33. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    I did a dual certification program and felt exceptionally prepared on the gen ed front. We were out doing field experiences constantly, starting freshman year. After freshman year for each education class we typically spent Wednesdays on campus in class and the other four days we were out doing our field experiences. They made sure to get us into every grade in our licensure and rural, suburban, and urban settings. They even had us do things like mock conferences and phone calls (complete with friends of our professors who came in to act like "crazy" parents). In contrast I learned practically nothing about sped. I spent almost all of my senior year student teaching in gen ed and then was placed in sped for the last 6 weeks of the year. I never learned how to write an IEP, how to lead meetings, or how to determine goals, placement, services, or any of the other million decisions we need to make for each student. The school I student taught at did all of their IEPs at the very end of the year after I'd already graduated, so I never even got to see an IEP meeting! My home state is also very focused on "full inclusion" so we spent a ridiculous amount of time learning "the six models of co-teaching" rather than learning how to actually provide reading interventions and how to teach differently so that students with disabilities can learn to read. I think having a strong background in gen ed instruction certainly helped, but for my current sped job I learned almost everything I know on the job.
     
  34. linswin23

    linswin23 Cohort

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    TRUTH to all these posts!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
     
  35. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    I don't remember exactly how my classes went (most of them were online), but I remember learning how to make really good lesson plans. The ones you type up and they take 2-3 pages, but you will never use them .
    I also learned how to write in the lesson plans how to accommodate for ELLs, sped. students, but didn't really understand what all that meant.
    I took a class on classroom management, but I learned most during my student teaching and from the book Tools for Teaching by Fred Jones, which I was introduced to by my master teacher, during student teaching, only towards the end.

    I knew nothing about teaching, or kids, other than having one (she was in 8th grade during my student teaching).. So I knew that I knew nothing and that it wouldn't be easy.

    I'd say I learned the most during student teaching, and during my 2nd year of teaching: I was in my principal's office every day and she made sense of all the problems I was facing, the mistakes I made (without ever blaming me), pointing me towards the solutions, and really teaching me about the mentality of our students.

    I think people should give student teachers and first year teachers a break. If they have good work ethics and are professional, everything else will come: planning, classroom management, implementing the lessons, etc. There is a huge learning curve.
     
  36. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Is a "diverse learners teacher" under the umbrella of Special Ed? I've never heard that term. My comments were about a regular classroom.
     
  37. FourSquare

    FourSquare Fanatic

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    Yeah, that's what they call sped in my district. I know, it's weird.
     
  38. MrTempest

    MrTempest Companion

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    I would have liked to have been more versed the realities of school politics. Including dealing with poor admin and problems that you may face when dealing with weak leadership. Also, some insight into teacher rights, especially in areas where there are not teacher unions.
     
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  39. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    I actually like "diverse learners" rather than "special ed." Here, we call it RSP or Special Day (for kids in a contained classroom). I have asked two RSP teachers what RSP stood for and neither one could tell me!

    My SPED class in my MAT program was such a joke. Like painfully, ridiculously bad and a horrendous waste of my time and money. I learned nothing and actually think hearing anything from that "professor" made me less prepared to teach SPED students in my gen ed classes.
     
  40. Expo Markers

    Expo Markers Rookie

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    I'm actually preservice, and I'm in an intro to education class and an intro to exceptional learners (SPED) now. The SPED class is infinitely more practical than Intro to Ed ever could be.

    We already had to read an IEP and understand the basic mechanics behind setting one up, we're learning about each flavor and variety of disabilities, and it's great. We do simulations and we talk about the different accommodations for each disability that we cover. I actually feel like I'm dipping my big toe into the nitty-gritty of classroom teaching.

    I feel like my Intro to Ed class is too esoteric; we ramble on about our own opinions of education (mind you, this is the first class of the education endorsement) and talk about topics like charter schools from a distanced vantage point. I don't think I've actually learned anything practical in there. I could tell you who Skinner is and I've now watched Waiting For Superman. But that's about it.
     

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