Madison Middle School Fall 2017 During the fall semester of 2017, I was place in various middle school math classrooms for my practicum field experiences. I spent approximately 20 hours in these classrooms over the course of the first ten weeks of the semester. I was able to observe the teaching styles of two different math teachers and pick up on some of their teaching and classroom management strategies. I also had the opportunity to work with students individually and in small groups to ensure they were understanding the day's material. This was great experience for me because I was able to see how real classrooms operated. My cooperating teachers modeled many skills in lesson planning, classroom management, and giving instruction. It was great to see some of the teaching strategies and classroom routines we talk about in class put to use in an actual classroom. This experience also showed me areas where I can improve as a teacher. I was able to attempt to use different strategies when helping students go over the day's material, and it was very beneficial to see what worked and what didn't.
Dakota Prairie Elementary School - 2nd Grade Fall 2018 During the fall semester of 2018, I was placed in a second grade classroom for my field experience in reading methods. This was a different experience for me, as most of my experiences at this point had been with older students. During this experience, I was able to observe a reading classroom full of beginning to emergent readers, and observe them as they made progress in their reading capabilities. I worked individually with students on their reading skills and I was even able to teach a read aloud lesson (See: Work Samples) toward the end of my experience. In this experience, I was exposed to different types of classroom management strategies and teaching strategies. At first, I had a difficult time adjusting to the age difference between these students and the students I was used to having my experiences with. In no time, I was able to build rapport with these students and help them learn. In this classroom, their were multiple students with special needs as well as a student with a hearing disability. I was able to see different activities within a special education classroom as well as strategies within the classroom to differentiate instruction for these students.
Madison Central Elementary School - Kindergarten Spring 2019 During the Spring semester of 2019, I took my Level III courses at Dakota State University. Later on in the semester, I was placed in a Kindergarten classroom for two weeks. Going into this placement, I had never really been interested in teaching at the lower elementary level. I had always said I would feel more comfortable with middle school age students. This placement was an opportunity to dive right in and see how things work at that level of education. I was placed with a fantastic teacher who taught me new things everyday about interacting with students, managing a classroom, and how to be a teacher. I enjoyed the placement from the start. I was able to interact with the young students right away and build a rapport with them. I taught them a series of lesson about the water cycle that kept improving with each lesson. I was also able to teach them a few math lessons as well as two reading lessons toward the end of the placement. I really felt like I came into my own when teaching these lessons as I got more comfortable with the students I was teaching. My cooperating teacher helped me along every step of the way. My biggest takeaways from her classroom was be always remain flexible and try to talk with every student every day.
Baltic Middle School - 6th-8th Grade Social Studies Fall 2019-Spring 2020 For my student teaching placement, I was placed in Baltic Middle School in a Social Studies classroom. I had two sections of 6th, 7th, and 8th grade sections each day. I was able to get know many different students and how to reach all of them. The first thing I learned from my cooperating teacher was a piece that I carried with me throughout the year, in terms of my classroom management. He said, "Not every student will remember what you teach them, but they will remember how you treated them." It struck me right away, and from then on I made it a point to really get to know my students and build positive relationships with them. That was really my first goal. Before I was doing a whole lot of teaching, I made an effort to get to know students and get them to feel comfortable with me in the room. At first, I was tasked with helping a student who had just moved to Baltic from Mexico, and did not speak much English. This experience made me realize how vitally important it is for not only myself to understand what I am saying, but to make sure student could understand as well. It was very difficult, but it was great practice for me in delivering lessons and content in a way students would understand. As I began taking over classes, I started with 7th Grade Geography. Those students were very curious, and always asking questions. I enjoyed this because it really forced me to be accountable and know the material I was teaching, beyond what I was presenting to the class each day. I also had to be prepared for what they would ask and what other answers they might be looking for. Another issue I had to break the cycle of was a number of students in these classes not turning in work. I was forced to find effective ways of getting them to get their homework done, whether that meant coming to my room during study hall, before or after school. It was frustrating at times, but also rewarding to help students get caught back up and stay there. Soon after, I was able to begin teaching 6th grade World History. This presented a new set of challenges. First of all, the students in these classes were far less talkative and harder to get information out of. I had to revamp my teaching style slightly to allow them more time to think, and more opportunities to share their thoughts. They also had a few more behavior issues. Nothing serious, but a few in the class could be slightly immature and that led to some behaviors that were not helpful to the classroom. I had to find creative and effective ways to let those students know that it was not ok, especially if it was disrupting others in class. The last sections of classes I took over was 8th Grade United States History. This was by far the biggest class. I really enjoyed teaching them. They were great for having class discussions on topics we talked about as well as doing the work to the best of their ability when I asked them to. With classes as big as there's I really had to be on top of my game to be able to stamp out any management issues that arose. With this class more than any, it was very important that I have great rapport with all of the students in the class so they would be less likely to act out during class and disrupt the other students. During my student teaching experience, I was also able to get involved with coaching. I was allowed to help with Junior High football and basketball, and was in line to help with golf before school was called off. Getting to know the coaches and learning from them really helped me get better as both a teacher and a coach as I learned more strategies to reach students. It also gave me a chance to get to know students involved with these sports better and make more and more connections with them. I was also able to be hired by the school to coach the C team for boys basketball and be an assistant coach for varsity. This was another experience I really enjoyed and learned a lot from. When distance learning began, I was tasked with figuring out the lessons for each week and planning some live lessons to be done over Zoom meetings. I was also asked to be the one who contacted the parents of students who were not staying caught up. It was a challenge, a very interesting way to end my student teaching, but was a good and enlightening experience. Overall, I really enjoyed my time student teaching in Baltic. I had a great cooperating teacher who I was able to learn from every day, and the rest of the staff always took the time to help me whenever they could. I was able to learn a lot and my experience in Baltic will benefit my career greatly.