Friday, May 11, 2012

Danielle Smith, 2012 Student Teacher at Selinsgrove High School Talks About Her Experiences this Past Spring

When I was first asked to reflect on my student teaching experience I thought “I don’t know what to write so much has happened.” It is hard to make a short reflection, but now thinking about it more I can sum up my student teaching experience with one word “impact.”
When most people put impact and student teaching together they think about the student teaching impacting the students at their cooperating center. Which makes sense because that’s what we are there for to teach and by extension impact students, but when I think about impact I think more about the impact my cooperating center has had on my life. I have often thought to myself that I have succeeded in my student teaching internship if I have made half the impact on my students that they have made on me.
The first experience I had that really impacted me was when I first started to teach my vet science class; after class one day as students were getting ready to leave as the bell was ringing a female student started to talk to me about FFA she told me that she wanted to join but was worried about what her friends would say I told her that you should not worry about what your friends will think when making decisions and that you should make decisions based on what you want to do. She seemed to be responsive to this and to most people that would just be a typical conversation with a student which it was to me until I found out more about this student. This particular student did not get along with most teachers in the school and she is usually considered a discipline issue and a student teachers could not connect with in a positive way. This is when I realized that it was really meaningful that she felt comfortable opening up to me. My relationship with this student has continued and I have faith that I have impacted her and that possibly her life will be somewhat different thanks to me taking the time to talk to her and even though she probably doesn’t know it I will always remember her because she impacted my life as well.
The second experience I think about when I think about impact involves a group of students. During student teaching I taught a building construction class this class consisted of 13 boys. This was also the class that I was teaching shop based units that I was not that comfortable with. I will always remember this class because not only did it help me overcome my fears of teaching shop, but it also impacted me by allowing me to realize that I can not only teach a class of all boys but prove to them that I know what I am talking about when I am teaching and most importantly teach them skills they did not have before.
My final experience I would like to highlight is my recognition at the FFA banquet. It was not so much that my cooperating center chose to honor me at the banquet it was more that what was read on stage to honor me was written by students. I did not know it till the night of the banquet, but Mrs. Fry my cooperating teacher had given the officers the task of writing something up to honor me. When I was called on stage I was surprised and then when I realized the words that were being said about me were coming straight from my students I almost cried. It was then that I realized I was not going to be that student teacher that comes to a school for a short period of time and then leaves and no one remembers but that I was going to be that student teacher that students talk about for years to come and that has impacted them in some way.
Overall my student teaching experience has been very meaningful and I am sad to leave. That is why I do not think of it as leaving the place but not the people because they have forever changed me as I hope I have changed them.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Emily's Reflections on Penn Manor

Over the next few weeks, we will sporadically post some reflections by the 2012 Student Teachers about their experiences over the course of their last semester. Today's entry comes from Ms. Emily Kuhn who student taught with Ms. Carole Fay at Penn Manor High School. 

I student taught at Penn Manor with Mrs. Carole Fay.  While there I taught Introduction to Agricultural Mechanics, Vet Science, Agricultural Science 1, and Floriculture.  These were all topics that were pretty foreign to me, which is why I chose Penn Manor as my cooperating center.  At first, it was overwhelming to be teaching these courses because of my lack of experience with all of the subject matter.  However, as time went on, I became very confident in myself and my teaching because I kept trying new things, and I used my resources as much as possible to help me to further my own knowledge before I tried to teach things to the students. 
My first challenge while here was figuring out how to help students who were emotional support (ES).  I had a female student who had some serious outbursts in class, and I wasn’t quite sure what to do at first.  I went to her ES teacher for advice and he gave me some pointers, as well as a request to update him on an almost daily basis so he could help discipline/reward her within his classroom via his behavioral points system.  As time went on, she became a well-behaved student within my classroom, and I soon had no issues with her behavior.  By the end of my experience, she was along the lines of a model student and it was nice to see her progress to this point.  The thing that helped her get there most was the rapport we established as well as my discussions with her about her progress throughout the semester.  She began expecting my positive feedback from me and her ES teacher and she was always glad to receive it.
Another challenge for me was establishing rapport with my mechanics class.  They were very reluctant to see me as their teacher and they were reluctant as far as my skills because they thought I was not informed on the subject matter.  However, as time went on, they became more used to my presence as their teacher, and despite them trying to challenge me with questions on the subject matter as much as they could; they eventually came to realize that I was experienced in the subject matter.  Once they realized this, many of them began to respect me as their teacher and they began to listen to my instruction and directions with a little more sense of purpose.  By the end, many of them told me they really would miss me while I was gone, which was nice to hear after they had given me such a hard time when I first arrived.
An exciting experience I had while here was working with the Life Skills students.  My floriculture class invited them to spend a class period with us so that my students could teach them how to repot and care for plants.  We had about a 1:1 ratio of students, which was perfect for this activity.  My students had a great time teaching the other students how to complete this task, and they even took the time to show some of the Life Skills students how to propagate plants by taking cuttings.  Not all of the Life Skills students had the ability to complete this task, but those who did were able to try it.  At the end, we allowed the Life Skills class to have the plants they had repotted so that they could learn how to take care of them.  It was a very exciting activity and everyone enjoyed working together, which was great to see.
Overall, my experience has been fun, although there was quite a bit of time where I was challenged a lot by the students or the subject matter.  I kept pushing through because I knew the students were still counting on me to teach them, and I knew that this is what I wanted to do with my life.  I have finally finished my student teaching and just have to work my way through these last few transition days before I must leave the students I have become so close to.  I will miss them when I leave because I know so much about them and I have enjoyed seeing them progress over the time I have spent teaching them.  It will be a sad departure, but it will also be a happy departure because I have proven to myself that I can teach agriculture, including those topics which I am not very well versed in.