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.  

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