Student teaching

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Student teaching

Post by Karen on Tue Apr 08, 2014 11:16 pm

Describe your impressions of your student teaching experience. How are you feeling about the profession at this point? What things/people/experiences have led you to feel this way?
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Student Teaching

Post by Kelly_Simonton on Wed May 14, 2014 11:45 pm

I think it's safe to say that may expectations of student teaching before and after the experience were fairly different. I was very energetic going in and had a lot of ideas I wanted to implement about being an effective teacher. I was also very well aware that my cooperating teacher would be there to guide me and I would be required to meet the expectations they needed to meet during my time within their classroom. This explanation is necessary to preface my impressions of my student teaching experience.
Our undergrad program really prepares us to understand the perspective of what we can expect as a first year teacher. For example, how to deal with co-workers who don't have some of the same philosophies as you or dealing with an administrator who won't support your program. So, going into it, I knew there was the possibility of these experiences. However, I thought being specifically placed by my supervising teacher with specific individuals and all said individuals graduating from our program in the past. That being said, I immediately felt micro-managed and in order to perform the class this teacher wanted, I was going against so many of the values and best-practices I had just been taught. I really wanted to branch out and learn more about how it feels to be an actual teacher. During this time I could spend time developing and refining my style of teaching, but I felt I was critiqued based on someone else's planning, delivery, and demeanor. Overall, in this area of student teaching I felt underused and that I made little to know improvement as a teacher (according to what my expectations going into it). With my experience with other teachers and administrators at my first placement I really go to feel that minimization we learned about in class. PE seemed undervalued; an easy subject for students to be removed from for other classes, and students felt they should receive A's for showing up. I also didn't like the lack of respect from the students (similar to the other teachers) but in my mind I placed the blame of these feelings on what I saw from my cooperating teacher.
At this point in the profession I feel that I would be constantly battling or urging colleagues to try and use best practice. That includes advocating in your school and being a leader to create better expectations for students and showing other teachers that PE isn't a "special." I feel that teachers don't utilize their professional development opportunities to be better or try new things for students. At this point, based on my experience, I felt there should be more to being a PE teacher then what I experienced.
There was a dramatic difference of supervision and expertise, obviously, going from the university out in to the public schools. So with those dueling feelings of before and after student teaching I would say both my professors and cooperating teachers have influenced how I feel at this point. This is a combination of what I felt, saw, and have been taught should be expected of us as teachers. I have seen some really great teachers at conferences and I have had access to so many options to future teaching that I want to expect more of myself as a professional. And due to some of the road blocks I encountered during student teaching I want to know more, so that I can meet my internal expectations and feelings of adequacy.

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Re: Student teaching

Post by Angela_Chambers on Thu May 15, 2014 11:39 am

Student teaching made me feel constrained as an educator in the gymnasium. During the elementary placement, my cooperating teacher (CT) used the SPARK Curriculum. At the time that I arrived within the year, the students were to be taught gymnastics for the first month and basketball for the second. The SPARK lesson plans were very dry and only focused on one activity, so I only used these as a building block, but at times I felt obligated to follow specific lessons because it was what the CT wanted. The CT had become used to using the curriculum rather than developing his own units and lesson plans and lacked the imagination and creativity that I had expected when I came into the placement. From this perception, I at times did not feel comfortable asking for specific input on new ideas. Not to mention, basketball was not on the top of my list for teaching at the elementary placement, and this CT had taught the traditional form of the skills surrounding the game to the students in all previous years.
At the high school placement, the curriculum was fitness based. Students were provided eight points a day, two for movement, two for personal and social responsibility, and four for fitness. Heart rate monitors were used to determine the number of minutes in their target heart rate zone and for fitness points. The other points were simply based off of teacher perception. Units only lasted four days with a "workout day" on the fifth. This workout day allows students the opportunity to try and get 25 minutes within their zone doing an activity of their own choice. The CTs’ at the high school had set “traditional” games that they wanted us to show the students each week. There is not enough time to teach students about a traditional game in 4 days! Also, why can’t students be introduced to non-traditional games that they may find interest in? The grading policy also didn’t present me any challenge in relation to grading or assessment. Students were never assessed on their movement or personal and social responsibility. The cognitive domain was only targeted through learning targets and the closure. Overall it was very frustrating and made me feel worthless as an educator. My first impressions of student teaching were that the student teachers would be allowed to try new things within the classroom, but this quickly changed as soon as I entered each placement and constraints became evident as a student teacher.
Based on my impressions of student teaching, I feel strongly about my choice to continue my education. This is due to the constraints I felt within my student teaching experiences. I never want to see or become the teachers described above. My student teaching experience brought to light the reality that many physical educators begin to settle into their surroundings rather than do everything in their power to enhance their programs and students. Teachers should not limit themselves because it ends up hurting the students, and teaching is for the students.

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Re: Student teaching

Post by KevinAndrewRRichards on Fri Aug 22, 2014 10:56 am

Kelly and Angela

Again, some great thoughts here! I love the way that Angela began the post: "Student teaching made me feel constrained as an educator in the gymnasium." I can definitely empathize with this experience and, from his post, it seems like Kelly can as well. I learned a lot during student teaching. I was fortunate to be paired with two very strong, passionate, caring professionals. However, I could see how others in the school viewed PE and the implications that it had for the professionalism of the subject. At the elementary level the classroom teachers would literally walk their children down to the gym door, dump them off, and run back to their rooms - not wanting to waste a minute of their planning time. At the high school my CTs teaching colleagues were the program's worst enemies. They were coaches first and, while I was able to build reasonably good personal relationships with them, it was evident to me from day one that they did not really care about PE. I don't think they ever planned anything except football and baseball practices!

Angela's experiences with SPARK are really interesting to me. Many PE teachers don't know that SPARK was created as a PE curriculum to be used by classroom teachers who had to teach PE, but did not have any training to do so. As such, the lessons seem somewhat "canned" and I agree that they are dry. The issue below the surface here is that - in my opinion - curricula like SPARK contribute to the deskilling of PE teachers. Rather than having to plan and create their own curricula, teachers can open the "box" and pull the curriculum out of it. If all out to do in order to teach PE is to open a curriculum box and implement pre-planned lessons, do they really need to have professional credentials? I am trying to be a little provocative here, but my point is that this is a slippery slope.

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