Here’s a brief overview of my resume:
– 2 years teaching general education fifth grade, currently teaching a combination special education class with 1st and 2nd graders.
That’s a total of 2 years and 3 months professional teaching experience, 60 days of which are in the lower grades and special ed.
Surely there are more qualified folks to have a student teacher?
Yes, I can now add to my list the title of “Cooperating Teacher.” Two weeks ago, I was assigned a graduate student to serve as my apprentice once a week. Since then, I’ve grappled with the question, “What is she going to learn from me?”
I’m not the kind of person who looks at her as an extra set of hands and eyes in the room. No, she’s there to learn how to – or how not to – do the job. In so many ways, though, I’m not even close to figuring that out for myself!
She had an observation this week, and I made sure to keep notes on her lesson. She had some wonderful things going on, but in the rush of nervous excitement, there were several items that went unchecked. How strange I feel as I sit down to type up some notes to go over with her. I return to the essential question: “Who the hell am I?”
Do I command the position of cooperating teacher simply because I’m called it? I don’t think so. I student taught for 12 weeks back in the day, and for the first six, I was paired with a cooperating teacher who was less than cooperative. She barely spoke to me. I was afraid to approach her for help or advice. We had nothing to say to each other, neither personally nor professionally. I did morning routines and a smattering of meaningless lessons that she offered minimal feedback on. This is hardly the atmosphere I want to cultivate with my new protege.
Nor do I want a situation that I experienced in my second shift of student teaching, where the teacher, having just returned from a lengthy leave, was so over her head with controlling the class that they had a building-wide reputation for nastiness that preceded them everywhere they went. While I was given something of an opportunity to whip them back into shape, I also was able to see all the things I vowed never to do as a manager of my own classroom.
I’m going to go type some of those observation notes now. Maybe, when I am, I’ll find some things the student teacher needs to work on that I also do. It’s like I told her from the get go – this is going to be a learning experience for both of us.