Tips on How To Deal With a Student-Teaching Gig You Don't Like

Discussion in 'Student & Preservice Teachers' started by Nab, Oct 5, 2015.

  1. Nab

    Nab Companion

    Aug 25, 2014
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    Oct 5, 2015

    My college has started a new Pilot Program. Students are assigned a mentor teacher the semester before student teaching. You observe/help out with small stuff - with your teacher and his/her class - the semester before you student teach and than you student teach the following semester. That way the student basically gets a whole year of "student teaching" (and sometimes spends 8 months with one group of students.)

    Well, I'm a Secondary person, and because not enough high school teachers volunteered to be in the program, I've been placed at a middle school. I'm with 7th graders in a low income school. Most have discipline issues and the average reading level is 3rd grade. My mentor teacher is young and tough. She is known for being a teacher who rises her students up. She currently has a student teacher (yes, I sometimes observe the student teacher) and that student teacher is a Middle School major. The children love both the teacher and the student teacher.

    I've been to observe full days three times in the last six weeks. Here is what I know: many of the students dislike me, because they don't understand that the current student teacher has to leave in late-October (she is a ELA and Math major, so she is going to student teach with someone else). They seem to think I'm forcing her out, and they aren't happy. I really don't care for middle school and am not looking forward to "getting my hands dirty" and student teaching.

    I don't know what it is, I just dread going to that school. The teacher is nice and she has lots of helpful tools. Most of the students are polite, even if it is clear they aren't fond of me.

    The curriculum is very slow (they are still learning parts of speech. Half have no idea what a verb is.). Maybe it is the curriculum? I've been studying and working with high school curriculum for a year now. I was very excited for it and had all sorts of ideas for lesson plans. Plus, there is a total lack of discipline and my mentor teacher has told me that I'll probably need to learn to yell. I'm not a yeller.

    Truth is: overall, I'm just not comfortable with these 7th graders and I don't know what to do. I've been told if I can survive student teacher at this school, I can survive any school. Which is great. I just feel so unprepared and unsure. Any tips or suggestions? I've tried voicing my concerns and the fact that I'm not comfortable with my mentor teacher and my supervising teacher at my college. Both have politely told me to grow up. I just feel let down, because I was so looking forward to student teaching a high school ELA class, and it looks like my student teaching will be spent yelling and teaching basic 3rd/4th grade reading and grammar skills.
  3. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

    Jul 20, 2012
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    Oct 5, 2015

    Just take it as a learning experience. Yeah, it's too bad that you didn't get what you wanted, but there are a lot of things that work out that way in education. Maybe the students will become more fond of you when the other student teacher leaves and you start spending more time with them. Who knows... Even if you were in a a HS ELA class, you might still be teaching 3rd/4th grade grammar skills, if that is what your students needed (I have to think that your mentor teacher probably didn't think she'd be teaching them either when see signed up for middle school...). At least you have a good teacher to work with. You could have been assigned to someone in your ideal grade-level who was impossible to work with. Really, there are so many worse situations you could be in. Take a minute to feel the disappointment you are feeling right now, but, then, suck it up and put on your happy face for the remainder of the year. You're only stuck in this classroom for the year, and, hopefully, you can move on to something more appealing to you after that.
  4. ku_alum

    ku_alum Aficionado

    May 24, 2008
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    Oct 5, 2015

    I was certain I'd end up teaching middle school. I wanted to be a 7th grade teacher. I went all through my cert program planning and dreaming of middle school.

    I was offered an 11th/12th grade position and took it because of the school - it was a great school, the drive was right, etc.

    I LOVE 11th and 12th grade. Love, love, love.

    My point: your experience will be what you make it.
  5. yellowdaisies

    yellowdaisies Fanatic

    Feb 7, 2011
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    Oct 5, 2015

    I had two student teaching placements - one upper and one lower elementary. The first was 6th grade. I was NOT excited when I found out my placement! I was convinced I wanted to teach primary, so I was hoping for 1st and 3rd grade placements or something like that (we had one K-2 and one 3-6 placement).

    Well, my master teacher was FABULOUS. She taught me so much, and made it an amazing experience. I learned to love 6th graders, and by the end, I didn't want to leave. When I eventually got a job, it was in 1st grade. I did that for two years, and then got hired for 5th. I've discovered that upper elementary is really my niche; it just took me a long time to realize it!

    My point - sometimes the most imperfect of experiences can actually be just the right one for you. Having a great master teacher is honestly 90% of the battle. Even if you don't learn to love the grade level like I did, you'll be far happier with a less than ideal grade level with a great CT than in your favorite grade level with a nightmare CT. Believe me - I have heard some CT horror stories - there have been some on this board!

    The experience is what you make it. Try to have a positive attitude and learn as much as you can. Good luck to you!
  6. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

    Jul 5, 2011
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    Oct 6, 2015

    For what it's worth, I'm working on parts of speech right now with my sophomores because they just don't get it. It's hard to talk about language if they don't understand the parts of speech.

    Hopefully it will go better than you think.
  7. happy2bmrsp

    happy2bmrsp Rookie

    Sep 25, 2015
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    Oct 23, 2015

    I'm in the same boat. I had a successful 6th grade placement. Loved my master teacher, the student, content and felt that I really did a great job. I'm now in my second placement at the same school site in a first grade class. I'm beginning to question if I can even teach. I have no idea how I will survive the next 5 weeks, especially my 2 weeks of solo teaching. I can't seem to pace lessons appropriately (either too fast or too slow), I can't seem to teach an lesson effectively and manage the class at the same time - 1 or both completely fall apart. I also do not have the relationship with my master teacher I'd hope to have had with this placement. What's worse, is there has been talk of sliding me into the open 1st grade position for next year. I am sure after this placement, that will no longer be the case.

    I wish I had some advice or words of wisdom for the both of us. I suppose it's a lesson in realizing that we are not going to have grades or classes that we would like, but we have to figure out a way to make it through and help the students to succeed.

    Best of luck to you. I may not have solid advice, but can certainly commiserate with you.
  8. ChildWhisperer

    ChildWhisperer Groupie

    Jun 25, 2015
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    Oct 23, 2015

    I, too, have ended up loving a different age group than what I thought I wanted!
    Things might change after the other student teacher leaves, you never know! Plus, it's just student teaching. It's not a job that you're stuck with. You will learn so many things and it'll help you grow as a teacher and as a person. At least your mentor teacher is nice! As for their ability level, that's not something you can help. I went from a school with "smart", advanced students to a school (albeit same age group!!) with the lowest developmental levels I've ever seen. Every school / region is different. You can't control whether or not they know what a verb is.
    My kids last year were learning to add/subtract, tell time, count money, use a ruler, read, write, etc.
    My kids this year (SAME AGE) are learning their colors, shapes, letters, numbers, and how to trace & cut on a line.
    It's crazy how different they are because they are the same age, but some things are out of my (your!) control

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