“Beginning student teaching is going to be a scary experience.”
…at least that’s what I told my fellow cohort members/friends at Rowan University back at the start of Clinical Internship I in 2014. We are all trying to reach the same goal and once that is realized, it helps put things into perspective. It’s always great to remember that you have fellow students, teachers, professors, and family to help you through anything that life throws at you. Relying on their inputs really helped me get through the biggest transition period in my life.
The hardest part of student teaching for me was showing the students I had confidence in what I was teaching. From day one, students read your vibes and if you are not fully committed, they will know! On the other hand, if you are passionate and enthusiastic in what you are teaching, the students will, in a sense, fall in love with your teaching style. I was not really an expert when teaching language arts, but as long as I was confident in what I was teaching and was prepared, I knew I was going to be successful. Being passionate and motivating students is an eye opening experience and like my sister Tracy (a teacher) told me once, “The word of an admired teacher carries more weight than anyone realizes.”
In Rowan University’s Master of Science Teaching program, we student taught for two semesters. Organization with college classes, lesson plans, and hands-on experiments were all very time consuming. Some days I did not leave the school until 7 pm because I was trying to prepare for the next day. The more I felt I was organized, the easier it was to teach the following day. Do not wait to start becoming organized until you take over the entire classroom; start on Day One. Trust me, it will make your life a lot easier!
Even though student teaching brings a vast number of surprises throughout the course of the one- or two-semester-long internship, one surprise was the way other teachers treated me. I was accepted into the building by the staff at Folsom Elementary and never looked back. As long as you carry yourself professionally, you will be respected. Everyone that has become a teacher has gone through student teaching, and they know how hard it is, so always say hello to everyone in the halls and offer assistance to anyone that may need it. If you can get along with everyone at the school you are student teaching in, then you can go anywhere and be a successful teacher. This is just a stepping stone and you never know when you may be offered a job! That is the ultimate goal.
Lastly, there is one thing that I wish I known before going into student teaching and that was to take it one day at a time. From completing my action research, to edTPA, to trying to make 6 different lesson plans per day (I was in elementary education), it really got overwhelming at times. Some days I would feel that there was too much to do and that I did not have enough time to complete all the jobs I needed to complete. Looking back, I wish I could say to myself to take it one day at a time and everything will work itself out. As long as you stay organized, act professionally, and show enjoyment in what you are doing, you will be just fine. Good luck!
Rick Heggan is a recent graduate from Rowan University’s Master of Science, Teaching program where his concentration was in Elementary Education. He also received his middle school endorsement in Science during this time. Currently, Rick is teaching 6th and 8th grade Science at the Neeta School in Medford Lakes, New Jersey. Prior to this, Rick worked at the Hammonton Middle School as a paraprofessional aide for almost two (2) years. His professional experience includes working at Adams, Rehmann and Heggan (surveying and engineering corporation) for eight (8) years. He recently was awarded KDP/ATE Student Teacher of the Year for 2015.