Reflections: The Diary of a Student Teacher

From January through April, I completed my student teaching experience as a special educator with students in grades 6-8. Looking back at all of the early mornings, hours of planning lessons, and challenges I faced I now recognize how much I grew as a teacher and as a learner during that period. Here are some of the lessons I learned that are bound in the black-and-white marble composition notebook I used as a journal. See how the elements of FIP clearly appear in my experiences. I wish I had been able to take the FIP modules during my student teaching and had been more intentional about planning, adjusting assessments, and gathering data to analyze. How can you use FIP to help your student teacher grow? How can you use FIP to grow as a teacher yourself?

January 31, 2013
My cooperating teacher was surprised when one of the high schools declined her invitation to attend one of her 8th grade student's IEP meetings. If I were that high school teacher, I think I would want to meet as many of my students as possible to gather as much data about them in order to come up with the best plans possible. The more data and information you have about students, the better you will be able to meet their individual needs. 
Collecting and Documenting Evidence

February 7, 2013
Today I saw how entrance slips used in a 7th grade class quickly revealed a lack of mastery. It is a simple technique that can check student progress quickly.
Effective Feedback

March 5, 2013
My cooperating teacher has just returned after 6 days of jury duty. This morning I taught a lesson and after it was over, she commented on how much I seem to have grown up and matured. She said I seem confident and have really developed a great deal. I couldn’t agree with her more. Over the past 6 days of truly soloing without my cooperating teacher (but with observation from other teachers in the building), I feel I have really grown into my role and feel confident in not only calling myself a teacher, but calling myself…a pretty good teacher. I still have so much to learn, but I am proud of the hard work I put into the last week. I handled schedule changes on my own, accommodated assessments, supported students in the classroom, provided remediation, and taught formal lessons related to IEP goals. I did this successfully with very minimal guidance. I also supported a student in getting caught up after he missed an entire week of school for a vacation. With prompting and positive reinforcements like verbal praise, prizes, and encouraging notes I was able to motivate him to complete his work. He was coming out to see me almost constantly because he was so behind in the classroom and I had to balance managing his work with my other students’ regularly scheduled support times.

This was by far the best experience I have had student teaching. You never know what you are capable of until you are placed in a situation in which you have to meet those expectations that have been set. I was well prepared by the University of Dayton and by my cooperating teacher, and now I can confidently call myself a teacher. Every challenge helps me learn and grow more, and I’m excited to see where next year takes me.
Clear Learning Targets, Student Ownership of Learning, Collecting and Documenting Evidence, Effective Feedback

March 26, 2013
My student’s behavior management plan is going well now that his parents are informed! He hit his first goal of turning in homework for 3 days and is now working on his second goal of 5 days. This is an important change to note. It is SO critical that parents are informed and that you check in with them.
Student Ownership of Learning

April 23, 2013
Today I am observing in a third grade classroom. So far, I have really liked the way the teacher calmed her students down before their math timed test. Today I graded papers, made a bulletin board, and tutored students in long division at recess. Although I could do this job, I really want to continue my education and be involved with research right now. I do feel that teaching is critically important work and that working with children is rewarding, so I may come back to this later in life.

From student teaching, I have learned how important it is to be responsible, accountable, and prepared. I have learned problem-solving skills and how important it is to communicate with the people you’re working with. I have learned how important it is to have a positive attitude. Mostly I have learned that it is crucial to find a position in which you are happy and fulfilled. People who love what they do, do their jobs well. People who are unhappy with what they do sometimes allow negativity to get in the way of their success. Some people leave student teaching knowing their place in life. Other people leave it totally mixed up. I don’t fall into either category. I am confident that I have the skills, intellect, and creativity to find the right place for myself next year, and for each year after that. I hope all students graduating this year, whether it is from the 8th grade at this school or from UD like me, feel just as confident in their education to go out and find success.
Clear Learning Targets, Student Ownership of Learning, Collecting and Documenting Evidence, Effective Feedback

For now, I’ll be closing up my composition notebook and returning it to the shelf. Thanks for taking a peek into my time as a student teacher. Reflective journaling is a great way to track your own progress as a teacher, and I encourage you to write about your experiences with FIP. Want to share how your school/district is implementing FIP?Use #ohFIP on Twitter or complete this brief survey.