Friday, April 02, 2010

Student Teacher Or Free Labor

I never had a student teacher. One of the reasons is that I am a control freak and the thought of turning my classroom over to another person does not sit well with me. A second reason is that I am too lazy to do the work that having a student teacher entails. The third, and real reason I never had a student teacher is that I know I am not good enough to be a role model for the new teacher. There are so many better teachers for them to learn from. My friend, a teacher in another state, has similar feelings.

Ms. X, a teacher in my friend's school always takes a student teacher. She thinks she is great and the administration has apparently bought into this greatness thing as well. Besides, not that many teachers want a student teacher or even have a program that accommodates one so Ms. X does not have much competition.

Unfortunately, Ms. X is not the role model she claims to be. She is, to be blunt, lazy as all hell. She looks upon the student teacher as someone who will take over a class, mark papers and make any relevant phone calls. In other words, Ms. X has brought back slavery and introduced it to the teaching profession.

K is the poor student teacher assigned to Ms.X. She is struggling and worried about being thrown out of the program at her college. Ms. X never spends any time going over lessons or teaching strategies or doing anything to make K's student teaching experience rewarding.

My friend happened to over hear a conversation between K and Ms. X and he heard the fear in K's voice. He quickly jumped into the conversation, offered advice and model lessons and even offered to spend every lunch period helping K improve. He even helped K rewrite the lesson she did poorly on to create a defense when consulting with her advisers.

Now my friend is caught. She can't drop K because if she does, there will be no one around to help her. Her duty free lunch now became a duty period. Ms. X is still enjoying the benefits of the free labor without any of the strings that go with it. K can't complain because she needs to stay in Ms X's good graces to finish the program. My friend still worries about not being good enough to help K get through this.

Personally, I'm glad that I stick to my own company and avoid situations like this.


Anonymous said...

I remember my student teaching experience like it was yesterday. The cooperating teacher had poor discipline and her lessons were boring. I also remember her being negative about a lot of things, but I was young and eager and couldn't believe half of what she was saying.

My lesson was on the poem "Dreams" by Langston Hughes. But those were the days that higher thinking skills were more important than test prep. Not only was my instructor there but also the principal. The lesson went over well and the kids were engaged writing their own Dreams. Later my instructor told me the principal liked me better than the regular teacher. Even my cooperating teacher loved the lesson.

I think for me working with this teacher was a good thing because it forced me to think what I could do differently. I also think I was lucky to be in a good Ed program at Hunter College. They didn't believe in majoring in Ed, so it was a 36-credit minor with a strong Liberal Arts core before picking a major. Being a Communications major really helped me with "knowing my audience" and feeling comfortable in front of people.

Anonymous said...

I finished student teaching at the end of January. My first placement was a dream - my cooperating teacher and I had a ton in common, she let me try new ideas, she invited me to department meetings before the school year started so that I could meet some of the people I would be working with, etc.

My second placement - not so much. My cooperating teacher was lazy and stuck in her ways. She was irritated by the needs of the large number of special ed students that we had. She talked about students and their parents as if they were dirt, but then was syrupy sweet to their faces. Gag me. She frequently pawned off angry parent phone calls to me, often catching me as I was returning from teaching a class and was caught completely off guard. More often than not, the parent was angry about something that I could not control - grades from the previous quarter, etc. The last straw for me was her horrible treatment of a student who had been hospitalized for a mental health-related issue for an extended period of time. My coop. teacher was mad that she had "taken all of the time" to gather the work she missed to send it to the hospital and the student returned without the work finished. In reality, I had created a detailed and comprehensive packet of work, along with a long note of encouragement and suggestions. My coop. teacher had done nothing. At the IEP for the student, the nurse said that, based on the hospital reports and the medications that the student had been taking, there was NO WAY that she could've done the work. Then, my coop. teacher changed her tune and said, "Oh, I know! Of course!" as if she was supportive of the student. When we left the meeting, the teacher was back to bad mouthing the student. AHHH!

What got me through this awful experience was the support of my family, my first coop. teacher, and my college supervisor. I was in constant contact with my supervisor and certification officer about the situation that I was in. They were supportive and helped me find ways to talk to my coop. teacher about some of the issues I was experiencing without creating a worse situation.

I guess this long rant was to say that I hope that things work out for K. The teacher that is helping her might be the person who helps K find her confidence and become a great teacher. If I had not had such a great first experience, my second coop. teacher may have driven me to give up my dream of becoming a teacher. I wonder if K has made her supervisor aware of the problems that she is having. The directors of the ed program made the decision to never use my coop. teacher again based on the experiences that I had. It wasn't much help to me, but it ensured that another student from my college would never have to deal with her.

Magical Mystical Teacher said...

Sticking to your own company can certainly keep you from being embroiled in a lot of unnecessary hassles!

Anonymous said...

Why would you not want to take on a student teacher? Isn't the purpose of being an educator to TEACH??? Teach them how to become teachers! And if you're such a control freak, then maybe teaching isn't for you. Go into business or something else.

I hope that "unnecessary hassles" comment was sarcasm, because otherwise we are in a LOT of trouble in the education field! Teaching is a challenge. Learning how to teach someone how to teach should not be viewed as a hassle, but as an opportunity to challenge the status quo in education!

Pissedoffteacher said...

There are many parts to teaching and teaching teachers is just one of them. And, that is something I have no interest in doing. And, that does not mean I should not be teaching. Teaching kids is challeng enough for me.

Unknown said...

You sound like you have personal dramas with ms. "X". I would not want to send my child in your classroom, you just sound like someone who is angry at life.