I managed to get a post in a week even during my second placement for student teaching. Woohoo! I am pretty proud of myself.
I have learned so much from this placement. I feel like every time I turned around there was a little tip here or idea there. My master teacher was just amazing. Hands down, everything I could have ever wanted and more. There is no way I can repay her for all that she has done for me. I can only hope to pay it forward someday and be a mentor to someone else.
I hadn’t worked in this district prior to student teaching (something I may have mentioned my post about getting on sub-lists). Now I am so thankful that I branched out. It was an amazing experience. During my time I discovered fantastic grade level teams that were supportive and collaborative both within their team and with other grade levels. I got to see a healthy and positive school culture that was supported by staff, administration, teachers, and parents. The PTA really blew me away, so amazing to witness all the cool things they add to the school for students and teachers alike.
I am taking June off master’s courses to focus on the one thing I have left to get my credential. My TPA’s are now my focus which means I may take a bit of a break. Don’t worry, I will be back to celebrate turning them in. Until next time…
I suggest that you ask early in student teaching for letters. Realize that everyone you are working with from your master teacher, grade level team, faculty advisor, professors, and administrators are all possible letter sources. Ask early, they have busy schedules of their own.
At my first placement, I had a meeting with the principal before I ever started to introduce myself as suggested by my University Advisor. I encourage you to do the same to get to know them and the school. They know you need letters, asking for one isn’t going to shock them. While in this meeting, let them know that you are interested in having them come out and observe a lesson so that they can write you an honest letter of recommendation.
If you are checking out multiple schools for possible placements I suggest talking with the administration about letters right at the start. Obviously, they need to see you in action but it is important to make sure they don’t have a blanket policy against writing letters for student teachers. Yes, that is a thing I have come across. If the administration denies all letter requests before ever seeing a student teacher in action, I suggest finding a different school. Teachers regularly need letters from administrators to apply for jobs and if all your placements were at schools with an auto “No.” policy then you might be in a hard place for finding a job.
That all being said, admins are busy people with quite a bit on their plate so if they aren’t able to write you a letter don’t fret. Ask your master teacher, your professors, your academic advisor and even just a status letter from your university about your expected graduation and recommendation dates. And never underestimate the influence of just word of mouth. If you really like a school or district, let them know it.
There is a lot of paperwork that goes into student teaching. I am going to make a fairly big suggestion for anyone looking at starting student teaching in the next six months, ready? Get on the substitute teaching list for all the districts that you live nearby. Do it now that way when the time comes to get your placements set up you have done a huge amount of the needed paperwork already. The district has already vetted you and accepted you to work in their district. I did this with my first placement’s district (in my hometown where I regularly took substitute jobs) which made starting there a breeze. I did not do this with my second placement which is a town away. I had figured, why get on the substitute list for another school district when the one in my hometown keeps me plenty busy? The answer is…to make student teaching easier, much, much easier.
Added bonus: many districts consider substitute’s internal candidates when they apply for teaching positions and grant them preferential treatment in the hiring process.
So my first student teaching position starts Monday. I am currently enrolled in my last regular course (MAT 674) for my Master’s Degree (student teaching, student teaching seminars and Master’s Capstone not included as they are all very individualized) which also starts on Monday. Originally, I thought that my student teaching seminar was going to bump my MAT 674 course off my schedule. However, my actual student teaching seminar does not start until February. So now I am trying to decide if I want to keep the course and juggle my first month of student teaching at the same time or if I should re-schedule the course after my student teaching is done. I am torn. I think ultimately all I can do is wait until Sunday night when the Blackboard for the course opens up and check out the assignments. I do not think that I can really make a clear decision without more information, but it is weighing on my mind.
Since I live so far from a physical campus (and my first student teaching position is about a block from my house) I put in a formal request for an exemption to allow me to take the student teaching seminars online instead of in person. The request was conditionally approved over the holiday break but the notification did not explain what “conditionally” actually meant. Later, I found out it depended on whether there would be an online course available. Today, I was notified that I was (finally) enrolled in my student teaching seminar courses. I checked, they are online and that means that I do not have to commute to a University campus for the seminars. Woohoo!
I met with my first master teacher today after school let out for the holidays. We went over what the schedule for the school, the weekly schedule for the classroom, the requirements for my program, student testing and scheduled when I will take over the class full time. We discussed my TPA requirements and made a plan for when I will gather the needed work samples from the class that is needed to complete TPA #3 and TPA #4. We talked about what the students will be working on when they come back from break. I came up with some ideas of how to expand the technology portion of the assignment and create a hands-on aspect as well to appeal to different learning styles. All in all it went fabulous and I am super excited!
Today, I had my orientation for student teaching. It went well. I got there super early, as usual, so I had a bit of a wait. We talked about who all you need to contact if you are going to be out sick and substituting for your master teacher. We were informed that we will be observed by our university supervisor eight times total, four during each placement/level periods.
We went over the requirements for:
- multiple subject elementary teachers, it is 40 days in a lower elementary placement and 40 days in an upper elementary placement
- single subject teachers, it is 80 days in their subject, half of the teaching periods at one level and the other half of the teaching periods at a second level so it could be half freshmen English and half sophomore English
For my university/program, they like to schedule you 45 days to provide you with some cushion in the event you miss any days.