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Singfree 03-09-2019 01:00 PM

Questions (So confused, please help)
My student teaching experience has been overwhelming and confusing. How much should my CT be helping me with planning? Should I be deciding what to teach if my CT uses a modified curriculum that has no guide?

There's no routine schedule. For example, out of the blue, I'm told, we're doing President's Day Themed activities all week and not doing a story in the reading book. Even when we do the stories in the reading book, she doesn't always follow the skills with the story, and is on a different grammar lesson then what goes with it. Or, she may tell me the evening before that she's decided to end the story we were doing all week tomorrow and do some random projects.

Then, there's all these maybes I'll do this or that, but no standards or curriculum or content to follow. It's so open-ended that I don't even know where to begin. She may on a Friday after school say, I think next week we'll take a break from the weekly story, then change her mind 4 or 5 times on what to do that next week. How do new teachers know what to teach, for how long, and in what order?

How can I contribute in these circumstances? Should I just pick a random skill or something and say lets do a lesson on this?

UVAgrl928 03-10-2019 03:09 PM

With my student teachers, the amount of assistance I give them varies on their comfort level. Ideally, I want them to plan and teach two full weeks without too much input from me. In reality, your CT is not preparing you for the real world if shes handing you what to do. Its important for you to learn how to seek out resources and plan your own lessons- there is no guarantee that whatever school you are hired at will have a basal or scripted program.

You and your CT also have a curriculum- its the stare standards/Common Core depending on where you live. She may not follow a PROGRAM- there is a difference between curriculum and program.

Its important to be flexible, but its really hard to do in your earlier years! With experience, you are able to adjust more easily. Have you discussed any of this with your CT? How far into your student teaching are you? I would just ask what skills shed like you to teach for your takeover time.

Singfree 03-10-2019 06:11 PM

I don't expect her to hand me what to do, but I do need to know what to teach since I don't know what she's covered so far. New teachers have access to a lot more information than I have, most likely other grade-level teachers, and can start at square one with teaching the State Standards. I'm walking in mid-year in a different role than a teacher has.

I'm not looking for a scripted program. But, it's difficult for me to plan when I'm told things last minute. I had planned and wrote lesson plans (22 pages worth) for the next story in the reading text, but then, last minute, my CT decided to skip that story even though it's on the pacing guide, and she previously spoke to me about doing it. The pacing guide is useless. The skills she's teaching or not teaching don't match.

I've asked her about skills, but she doesn't have any answers about which ones I should focus on teaching. I thought she'd say something like, we've covered Summarizing extensively and need to work on X, Y, and Z or something. But no.

Often, she doesn't know what she wants to do the day before, so in the mornings, she's running around putting things together. She told me she's behind in teaching two subjects. She hasn't taught one subject she was supposed to be working on all year. This came up after I had planned to implement a certain teaching model for that subject, and had ordered books and materials for it. Now, I'm just being told about the program that the school actually uses for that subject. I also had to order the reading curriculum materials, because she didn't offer to give me a copy to use. I didn't even know she had them until after I ordered the materials, even though I told her it'd be helpful if I had a book and could read the weekly story before the week started. She'd get a reading book out of a student's desk and quickly flip through to show me the story, but never offered to lend me a book.

She gets frustrated when I ask for things sometimes. And, when I bring up ideas, she often dismisses them and wants to do things her way anyway.

NJ Teacher 03-11-2019 01:22 PM

Involve your supervisor...
I would contact my supervisor at the college and share your concerns. The supervisor should be able to serve as an intermediary between you and the teacher you are working with. As a student teacher with limited classroom experience, you certainly should have more guidance and direction than it sounds you are getting. Are you actively teaching lessons on your own or just supporting what she is planning? And even if you are supporting her, she should be sitting down with you and explaining the direction she is going. Experienced teachers often deviate from the standard materials and use other things, but she should be sharing that with you and explaining what she hopes to accomplish in the lessons she is doing. Are you responsible for a unit or a series of lessons or some small group work? It sounds like you and she need to communicate a lot more. Good luck with everything. You sound like a hard worker.

NHSecondary 03-11-2019 05:39 PM

Uncooperative cooperative teacher
My CT was exactly the same way. I student taught high school American History September to December 2018. He did not give me a recommendation and told my Master's degree program that he did not recommend me to be a teacher. He wouldn't let me teach any of my ideas and became upset if I offered something different then what he was teaching. I had no guidance. He didn't use the text book. (Luckily I had two CT's.) I have PTSD because of my experience with him. I haven't been able to finish my credentialing program because of the anxiety and depression from student teaching. Last month I have started seeing a therapist and she's helping me to approach the portfolio to finish it.

Singfree 03-12-2019 11:02 PM

Hi NJ Teacher,

Thank you for responding. I appreciate that you said my CT should be sharing what she hopes to accomplish in lessons. I've been trying to put my finger on what the problem is even when she tells me about an activity, and that is what it is. She's not sharing her thinking and reasoning.

Other problems include:

Often times, she doesn't tell me what she wants taught until last minute.

And, when I've asked her questions about how she typically teaches a concept or skill, there's been a few instances she's gotten short with me and visibly impatient and frustrated.

Singfree 03-12-2019 11:08 PM

Hi NHSecondary,

I'm so sorry you were placed with a CT from every student teacher's nightmare! It's ridiculous that some colleges aren't inquiring about how a CT is working with their ST and stepping in to ensure their students are in adequate placements.

The reality of student teachers is we can't control the conditions the CT provides or how our CT treats us. If we're not given what we need to survive, it's very difficult to do so in a barren and adverse land.

I'm glad it sounds like things are going better?

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