Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Student Teaching - What's the Worst That Could Happen?

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Everyone has memories of their student teaching experience. Some are good, some are bad. While my student teaching semester was one marked by the worst kind of tragedy (my classroom experienced the death of a student), my "worst" experience happened on the very first day of "Full Responsibility."

For those of you not familiar with that term, "Full Responsibility" is the week where a student teacher is completely in charge of the classroom. My supervising teacher handed me the roll book and walked to the back of the room, where he picked up a novel and started to drink coffee.

When students are coming into the classroom, the best word to describe this is chaos, pure, unadulterated chaos. Even the most organized and managed classrooms experience this chaos every single morning. As I was standing there greeting the students and collecting notes, one of the girls came up to me in a bit of a panic.

"Mr. Pearson, I don't know what happened. I just looked down and noticed that my skirt was covered in blood and I don't know where it came from!"

Did I mention that I was teaching 6th grade? Yeah, that should set some context for this story.

I didn't really know what to say, so I looked back to my supervising teacher. He shrugged, took a sip of his coffee, and turned the page in his book. Great.

The poor girl looked like she was about to cry, so I did the only thing I could think to do: I sent her to the nurse. "Quick, here's a pass. Go to the nurse. She'll take care of it."

The girl left and I was able to get the day going without any further catastrophes. About an hour later, the girl returned to class wearing a new skirt. A little later in the day, I asked her if everything was okay, secretly hoping she wouldn't share too many details of what had been going on.

Oh yeah, everything's fine. There was a kid on the playground this morning who cut his leg open. I guess he brushed up against me and that is where the blood came from. I had to wait in the nurse while my mom brought me a change of clothes. No big deal."

No big deal for her. It certainly threw a wrench in my plans for the day. And, fortunately, that was the most traumatic (for me, anyway) thing I had to deal with during my student teaching. Interestingly enough, my student teaching experience is not at all what my actual teaching experience has been, but I guess that is the case with most teachers.

What memories of student teaching, good or bad, do you have?

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