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Rough Student Teaching Experience
Old 10-23-2019, 09:51 PM
 
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I need some encouragement. I am in my second month of a year long ST experience, and my relationship with my CT is rocky at best. She has been teaching for 20 years, and shows great mastery in some areas. I wont be arrogant and say I dont learn from her. But I also feel frequently attacked or ignored altogether by her.

It has gotten marginally better, but she never seems to have time to teach me. I rarely get direct feedback from her. She refuses to let me attend weekly PLC meetings to be included or even able to observe planning. I feel she treats me more like a TA than a ST. She gives me tasks to do, but doesnt take time to teach me her methods or planning. It has honestly just felt to me that she didnt like me from day one. I have high anxiety so I'm willing to accept that it could just be in my head, but it really feels like our personalities just don't mesh.

I have been doing incredibly well in my grad school classes, and my professors regard me highly and have told me they find me bright. I subbed for an extensive period before beginning grad school. I was written glowing letters of rec from coworkers and district supervisors in my time doing that. Then I show up to ST excited, passionate, and ready to learn, and she tells me I'm too idealistic. I worry I came off as too eager and made her dislike me? She even said to students my second week in to "just ignore me" I was only there right now to learn routine. As if I was too stupid to help lower elementary students complete morning work when they would walk up to me and ask a question, usually what does this word say?

Some have suggested she could be threatened by me, but she's a seasoned veteran and I'm a student. I dont see what there would be for her to feel threatened by. I was hoping to have a CT who was as excited to have someone to teach as I was about teaching. Instead I'm just feeling like I'm just going to be stuck crying and having anxiety attacks every night until May when I graduate.

Any advice/pearls of wisdom to help me make it through this without a nervous breakdown? It's hard to work with a spirit of cooperation when you feel intimidated and unliked. I tried going to the university and talking to them but it felt like I was just being "handled". My CT is well decorated and a darling teacher of the district, so my reputation I have built for myself within my university was of course thrown out the window. I am terrified of confrontation with her which makes me afraid to even try to speak with her about it.

HELP 😭


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Old 10-24-2019, 06:51 AM
 
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Either ask for a new placement or tough it out. You can learn from observation. Just be nice and polite. Its highly possible you were forced upon her by admin. Might not be you, just the concept of you.
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Old 10-24-2019, 07:38 AM
 
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I'm sorry to hear that you're having a tough time. I think Keltikmom gives good advice: you could go and ask for a new placement (I know students who did when I was a ST). You can also try to tough it out for the year if you think you can make it. Very best of luck to you.
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Old 10-24-2019, 08:43 AM
 
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I used to live in a college town where student teachers were always in the classroom. I had many student teachers in my years spent in that town.

Teachers had a strict schedule to follow, where we "eased" the student teacher into his/her teaching responsibilities, adding a bit more/new subject to teach each week. The first week was strictly for observation only, learning the classroom routines, and watching/learning the district mandated teaching methods . Then as the weeks went by, 1 new subject for the student teacher to teach would be added, until all were added and the student teacher would teach all subjects for 1 week. After that subjects, one at a time, would be given back for the classroom teacher to teach. Teachers and student teachers would have brief daily meetings and then detailed planning would be done once a week. Student teachers attended all faculty meetings and grade level meetings-only if discussions applied to the student teacher.

Keep in mind that when a teacher takes on a student teacher, it is a lot of work. Some student teachers are still growing and not only does a teacher have to help you in the teaching process, but there are times when the teacher feels like they are "parenting." (I've had student teachers who partied, slept in class, didn't like to grade papers, cried over boyfriends, etc.) Add to that the stress the teacher has in making sure his/her students meet all the required expectations in class and are held responsible for district and state test scores.

Teachers have a lot on their plates in today's times. Student teacher do also. I hope that you both find a way to make this time in the classroom productive for the students, and of course, for you and the teacher!

She should be giving you weekly feedback. You should also be able to meet with your supervisor at times in her presence and at times with only your supervisor to voice your concerns. I would not follow the advice given here to do negative/annoying things. Please be professional, even if you feel that she is not. Be the adult. Tread carefully, if you stay in this assignment. She will be giving you recommendations for a future job. Keep in mind that supervising teachers have contact with university supervisors, even at times when you are not aware.

Last edited by LazyLake; 10-24-2019 at 01:24 PM.. Reason: added last paragraph
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Contact your supervisor...
Old 10-24-2019, 09:03 AM
 
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Whomever is evaluating you from the college should have stepped up to help you. When I had a student teacher, there was a handbook for both the student teacher and the cooperating teacher. Excluding you from professional meetings and/or planning would seem like a violation of her responsibilities towards you.

If she truly asked the students to ignore you in so many words, I am wondering why she opted for a student teacher at all. Could you have possibly been assigned to her at the last minute? This certainly doesn't excuse her behavior, but it could possibly explain it.

I had a similar experience when I was a student teacher. It did turn out that I was a last minute assignment, as the teacher I was supposed to go to opted to go from special to general education, and the new person was an untenured beginner, so I was pushed up to the high school. He also excluded me and provided little or no feedback, so I virtually learned nothing. I did have a wonderful relationship with the students and my supervisor, which saved me, and my second placement (we were only there half the semester in each one) was truly fantastic.

Short of talking directly with the teacher, I would do the best I can, knowing I would need an evaluation from this person to get a job, most likely. If it is early in the game, you could request another placement, but if you are in the middle, that would be harder and delay your finishing your degree, possibly.

Good luck to you. I wish you were having a better experience.


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Old 10-24-2019, 09:44 AM
 
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This person is getting some sort of compensation for having you.

My ideas:
1. Go anyway, sit near the Principal.

2. Instead of drawing back, step in closer, listen and watch how she does things.

3. Know that learning to handle disregard is part of being a strong teacher.

4. Set up a jigsaw puzzle for yourself and work the puzzle when she is trying to gain YOUR attention. "Sorry? Were you speaking to me?" "Oh my what a splitting headache Ive got!"

5. Do her tasks slowly and wrong. Lose things. Never apologize. Never talk about feelings. "Oh, the file with X? Hmmmm. Not sure."

6. You could be trying too hard. Spend your energy nurturing you.

7. Walk around holding a clipboard. Jot down words all the time. LOOK BUSY

8. Smile a lot

9. Laugh a lot, and loudly
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Old 10-24-2019, 03:59 PM
 
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Thanks for the responses so far. I guess it all came to a head on Tuesday. I began my unit plan, starting with a pre assess. It was pretty rocky. But I thought that was to be expected to some degree. She rarely let's me do whole class instruction. I never know what her plans for the day are. I just have to roll along. So this was maybe my 3rd time doing full class instruction rather than working small groups.

She told me the following day that she was so concerned about my "lack of classroom management" that she was going to email my US and tell them she didnt feel comfortable giving me more teaching opportunities until I improved. It's not as if students were first fighting. Some of them were a little chatty/disengaged while I was teaching. That was it.

I just feel that it was an extremely harsh judgement and overreaction to my first day of my unit plan. When I asked her for advice on improving my CM she told me I had to figure that out for myself. I just feel like her punching bag.
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Old 10-24-2019, 04:41 PM
 
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Ask for a new placement. This has already gone south. It sounds like she doesn’t want you there and how she’s already acted is going to get worse. She might be a great teacher, but lots of people are not meant to mentor.

I had a bad student placement for my first teacher. She called my advisor after the first day and was mad because I sat in the back of the class and just observed. She wanted me to be helping the kids. She basically wanted an assistant, not a student teacher. It was strictly understood that I spent the first few weeks observing her, not helping the students, even though I was trying to help them with a computer assignment because she asked me to. She also asked me to teach a poetry elective my first or second day. She had the plans, but asked me to do it. I felt like I had to do it, so I did it, but it was her class, not mine. She was lazy. It was clear she was using me to dump her work on. I ended up getting really sick and missed the next week but my advisor and I decided to pull me out. Someone at your school should be talking to this person and defending you. If it’s this bad this early, I’d suggest a new placement. My school had me go and meet several new potential mentors before I chose another one.

You don’t have to be best friends, but you have to respect each other and the mentor has to be willing to let you observe her and not talk down to you in front of the students. You’re paying a lot for schooling, make the university earn it and do their jobs by finding you the right mentor.
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Old 10-24-2019, 04:43 PM
 
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Sorry, but I think this is terrible advice. It's petty and passive aggressive and won't improve OP's sitch.


Quote:
4. Set up a jigsaw puzzle for yourself and work the puzzle when she is trying to gain YOUR attention. "Sorry? Were you speaking to me?" "Oh my what a splitting headache Ive got!"

5. Do her tasks slowly and wrong. Lose things. Never apologize. Never talk about feelings. "Oh, the file with X? Hmmmm. Not sure."
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Old 10-24-2019, 06:40 PM
 
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Perhaps, i was adding levity. My ideas certainly are not advice. What i am getting at in my response is to not cow tow to anyone... when someone behaves poorly if you go along with it you are sort of condoning abuse.

I have witnessed too many bright, intelligent, idealistic, and caring people lose themselves in the teaching profession. The OP's master teacher is no teacher. New teachers need encouragement and support, not criticism and mystery.

Teaching is an extremely difficult profession. If admin and teaching schools were more "on the new teacher's side" we would have excellent people in our classrooms. To learn to teach well takes years and years. To extinguish someone's aspirations can be weeks.

To evaluate a response is interesting...


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Old 10-24-2019, 08:55 PM
 
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It definitely can't hurt to ask for a new placement.


I will say that it is extremely hard to have a student teacher at the very beginning of school. There is SO MUCH work that needs done, and it takes a good 6 weeks or so to really get into your groove and get your class running smoothly. Adding someone else into the mix just complicates it even more. Not to mention that for many teachers and schools something new is thrown on our plates every year. If I had a student teacher for an entire year, I would not be letting them teach the whole class until we had our routines and community firmly established.


If you are to stay with your current teacher, you need to talk to her, even if it's uncomfortable. Ask her what her expectations are for you in terms of teaching, planning, etc. Ask what her timeline is for you taking over the class (if it's not dictated by your school). Be honest about what kind of feedback you are looking for. Do you have a planning time with her? I know that when I have a ST we have a weekly planning time that is mandated by her program. However, we don't plan the days out together - that is done by my partner and I. We just talk about the parts of the day that she/he is expected to take over (and go over questions, etc).



I have to agree with Zia - please don't take some of the suggestions that do come across as passive aggressive. As teachers we want to be treated as professionals, so we need to act like professionals.
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Old 10-24-2019, 10:30 PM
 
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I do not get any time to sit and talk with her about what I am doing from day to day. When I arrive to the school we have about 45 minutes until students come in. If shes not in a meeting, she is in the classroom, just not talking to me. I say good morning, she says good morning, that's it. I am expected to sharpen pencils, wipe down desks, check on work that's been turned in.

I literally have no clue what she will have me do until I hear her announce to students that they are coming to me for reading group, help with morning work, etc. When the students know, I know. So there is virtually no time for me to prep myself at all.

I am very aware of how demanding being a teacher is, and I often feel like a burden to her. I know she's busy. But she is also just very callous to me. She smiles and is friendly with fellow school staff. Not with me. She has chided me in front of students, is often dismissive and gives the shortest answer possible when I ask questions. I did a read aloud and asked her how she thought it went, she replied "Fine." One word. That was her feedback. Whenever she has observed me, I get no feedback. I have to pass edTPA in the spring and I am worried that she will make it impossible for me to teach for the required lessons.

Also, how am I supposed to improve my CM, which she never indicated was a problem before, if she is threatening to not let me teach? When I entered my grad program I had just come off of a 7 month long term sub position. I got glowing letters of rec from two co teachers, as well as the two district supervisors, all of whom had seen me teach. I know I have lots of room for growth, but to say I show a severe lack of CM skills is feedback I am sure I would have heard from now.

It just feels absurd. Even when I asked "How do I remedy my CM issues?" Her response "You have to figure that out for yourself."
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Get a New Placement ASAP
Old 10-25-2019, 01:39 AM
 
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What you describe is not a healthy situation for you. She is not working with you; shes working against you. Document everything with times and dates, and take it to your university. Do you have a uni supervisor who comes out to your site? Are they aware? Your supervisor should be helping you with this. If not, take documentation to the Program Chair. Do it soon. Dont give your CT the chance to freely trash you (shes so concerned about your management shes emailing your uni) and ruin your credibility by not speaking up about whats happening.
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Old 10-25-2019, 03:47 PM
 
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I suggest that you document everything - keep a running journal of each day.
I had a very similar experience 21 years ago. I was placed with a teacher that had a completely opposite teaching philosophy - It was her way or the highway. She did not allow me to have full control of the class and did not allow me to teach all subjects. It was a very stressful time for me. It wasn't until I was in my second student teaching placement (I had to complete 2 in different grade levels) that the teacher I was assigned to work with, shared with me that the teacher I previously worked with was a bit difficult. I had assumed that it was me and that I was not doing a good job. Don't doubt yourself - you have come this far and you can do it! I stuck it out and struggled through it. Once I secured my first teaching position- I had a wonderful first year mentor and was able to accomplish my dream and teach.
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Old 10-26-2019, 06:06 AM
 
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It sounds like a mismatch. Talk to your ST coordinator and school to get reassigned.

Unfortunately, some schools assign student teachers without asking teachers if they even want to mentor a ST. Some districts offer very poor compensation or no compensation for the added work. It could be that the teacher is annoyed/bitter about something that has nothing to do with you, but you are an easy target to dump on.

Last edited by applesaucencr; 10-26-2019 at 03:58 PM..
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Old 10-26-2019, 06:52 AM
 
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I want to add one thing. OP, you need the CT. She doesn't need you. And I highly doubt she is threatened by you. I'd work on building the relationship before bailing out of the placement.
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I may be wrong, but...
Old 10-26-2019, 01:25 PM
 
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Some people (even teachers) can feel threatened by new or up-n-coming people in a job field. Veteran/older teachers are starting to feel out of touch with students and the ever-changing world. Younger teachers have more energy and are often more relatable to the students. Security in the field is no longer there either. In my state, Ive seen admin get rid of veteran teachers and replace them with recent grads for over half the pay. Many districts are encouraging this practice just to keep within budget constraints. Of course, this is all conjecture on my part and only my opinion. I dont know this teacher that should be mentoring you, but it sounds like classic Im threatened by you posturing. I can only share what Ive seen and heard about in my state.
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Old 10-27-2019, 01:11 AM
 
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I just want to share my experience before you spend a bunch of wasted time trying to build a relationship with someone who feels they don't need you, but you need them. If that's her mentality, then that says it all, because that would show she's very self-centered and doesn't care about you and how her actions effect your future. Don't waste your time and get a new placement before it's too late. I tried to build a relationship with a CT like that and it's unlikely to work, because when it comes down to it, it's not about you, it's about her.

I cannot express what a difference being in a healthy environment made for me when I got a new placement. It was night and day. Try your best to get out of there, and hopefully you'll be placed with someone with integrity next time. My biggest regret was I spent too much time trying to make an impossible situation work (tried building a relationship with someone who had no interest in building one) and didn't push the issue with my university to get a new placement sooner. I know how stressful being in that position can be. I'm sorry you're going through that! Wishing you the best that it works out!
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Old 10-27-2019, 11:25 AM
 
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Quote:
I just want to share my experience before you spend a bunch of wasted time trying to build a relationship with someone who feels they don't need you, but you need them. If that's her mentality, then that says it all, because that would show she's very self-centered and doesn't care about you and how her actions effect your future.
I was the one who said that and it's true. I don't NEED a student teacher. That doesn't mean I don't care and I wouldn't act like the CT OP described. But the bottom line is, OP is the one who stands to lose by not making this work. That's all I meant.
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Old 10-27-2019, 12:33 PM
 
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From what you describe it seems your CT is not fully engaged with you, nor wants to spend the time necessary so your placement is a successful experience for you. I would talk with your ST supervisor about another placement, especially if this is the only ST placement you are doing. (I did two- one in middle school and one in high school). In addition, I would take advantage of any spare time you do have to observe other teachers on campus. You can learn so much from doing so.

Sorry your experience has thus far not been positive. Hope you can find a solution to change that.
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Old 10-27-2019, 12:56 PM
 
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Hi Zia, what I was saying is that kind of thinking is not what you want to see in a mentor. You hope your mentor is enthusiastic about being part of your learning and helping you grow...that their ultimate goal is to help you become a confident teacher. That takes cooperation, respect, collaboration, trustworthiness, honest feedback that's done in a safe way with the chance for the student teacher to work on things without the mentor automatically complaining to the university. She's not being given a chance from what she's described.

Like you said, you wouldn't act like the CT in question, that you'd care about the student teacher. The problem sounds like the CT does not care. It's hard to make it work if her mentor doesn't care. She's not responsible for her CT's behavior, so she can try to make it work, but that's partly on her CT. She'd be much better off in a supportive environment with someone who wants her there.
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Old 10-27-2019, 03:12 PM
 
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I agree with Zipline. It doesn't sound like she has the time or wants to put the time in so you can be successful. How long are you supposed to be in her classroom? If it's the whole year, I would try to get a new placement. I would cite that the working conditions are making it very difficult for you to do what is necessary to meet college requirements.
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Old 10-28-2019, 10:13 AM
 
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There might be a reality check here. Just like a real teacher the situation may come back on you. This experience may be a blessing because you are entering a #### profession. So many have a wonderful ST experience and it is never like the hell that most go through their 1st year. They often quit.
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Update from OP
Old 11-03-2019, 06:51 PM
 
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Thanks for all the support. I have met with my dean and placement coordinator and they will be trying to find me a new placement.

One thing that bothered me about the meeting: my dean said "Well, you DO have very high expectations of yourself, and of the program." But this is what the program has taught me, as well as studies repeatedly showing that students more often than not will rise to the expectations you set for them. It was just frustrating because they were very democratic about the whole thing while I was very candid and even said good things of my CT. She has had an illustrious career. She is a good teacher, just not a great mentor. Maybe she has too much on her plate. Everything was framed from how my expectations were just too high.

Tldr; I am hopefully getting a new placement. Also just having a vent about the politics involved in higher education.
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