October 9, 2014
I recently attended a DARTEP (Directors and Representatives of Teacher Education Programs) meeting with the Michigan Department of Education at Saginaw Valley State University. The purpose was to discuss pertinent information about teacher preparation programs across the state of Michigan. Over the last 5 years, I've had three student teachers from three different colleges and each experience has been drastically different, so I expressed interest in learning more about this process. My favorite part of the day was when I sat in on a round table discussion with student teacher directors because it was a candid conversation about what works and what needs to be improved. They were very interested in hearing a teacher's perspective so I gave them one with no holds barred.
I was very honest in the fact that my first request to get a student teacher was out of a desperate need for reinforcement. I had 32 third graders for the first time and it was a challenging mix of students (and parents). I needed an extra body in the room, and I really couldn't have cared less about the quality of the intern I would get. Luckily, she was great and she helped me survive. I can only hope that I helped her just as much, as I did my best to prepare her for this roller coaster profession. I'm happy to say that was my only tough year throughout my thirteen year career, although they all have their moments, and now I request to have student teachers for the right reasons. I've realized that I enjoy teaching adults as much as I love teaching kids and I learn an invaluable amount from both as well.
Now, I see hosting student teachers as a partnership, an opportunity to learn with a fresh lens, a chance to collaborate and try new things. It's not about handing over your class for a month or two so that they can try to tackle all of the challenges and learn the hard way, which is sometimes the perception. I appreciate the MDE's and DARTEP's openness to getting teacher input on their initiatives, but it certainly shouldn't only be my opinions they are hearing. So #letmebeyourvoice. They want to hear from of us because #wegetit better than anyone else. Here's what we want to know...
What would be included on your student teacher wish list?
If you've had a student teacher before, what made you decide to host one?
If you haven't had a student teacher before, what is holding you back?
What would you expect student teachers to come prepared with?
What do you expect that they won't come prepared with?
What do you wish student teachers would know more about before they walk into your classroom?
Is there anything else you wish you could say to the people that run these programs?
Feel free to answer one or all of these questions so that the teacher preparation programs and student teacher experience can improve. Let's start the conversation. Please comment below or tweet your thoughts to me @melodyarabo using #studentteacherwishlist. :)
Melody Arabo has been a third grade teacher at Keith Elementary in the Walled Lake Consolidated School District since 2002. She has a Bachelor's Degree in Elementary Education and a Master's Degree in Teaching and Curriculum, both from Michigan State University. She has been married for over twelve years and has three children - an eight year old daughter and four year old twin boys. In 2008, she was named Keith Elementary Teacher of the Year and was first runner-up for Walled Lake's District Teacher of the Year in 2009. She was named Michigan Teacher of the Year on May 15, 2014 by State.