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I had two. The first was in a kindergarten class in an inner city setting. My cooperating teacher was wonderful. She let me jump right in. Actually, she was writing a grant and after the first week or so, really let me take over while she did her grant work. She jumped in if/when I needed her, but gave me the freedom to really see what it was like to be the teacher. She let me try things out and was supportive of all my ideas.
My second experience was the complete opposite. I was in a fourth-grade classroom in a rural community. The cooperating teacher had been there 33 or so years. She was used to doing things "the old-fashioned way" and was not willing to give up any control in her classroom. I basically sat in the back of the room marking her papers and occasionally teaching a spelling lesson here and there.
My student teaching experiences were awesome! I did 8 weeks of Kindergarten and 8 weeks of 5th grade at the school I currently teach at. And now I teach K with the teacher who was my cooperating teacher!
I was placed with a 5th grade teacher that was awesome and let me teach as many lessons as I wanted to. He was a great mentor teacher. I also was placed with a 6th-8th grade teacher who basically fed me to the wolves. She gave me no help and no real backup when it came to disciplining the kids.
I think I learned the most, though, from my first two years of teaching than I ever did in college or during student teaching.
__________________ My Angels: 1/6 @ 5W5D 6/17 @ 4W5D
My school does this 3 semester thing (not sure how other schools do it) where your last one is student teaching, the one before that is in the classroom you student teach in (normally) observing and helping out and the one before that is somewhere else observing.
I had a once a week for 8 weeks placement where I observed in a Kindergarten class in an inner-city school. That was fine...I didn't do too much (I guess that was the point though, we were supposed to watch...but that's hard to do!). Then I did 8 weeks in a middle school ELL classroom (1/2 days). My "official" student teaching then was in a 3rd grade classroom for a semester (full days). My coop teacher there was FANTASTIC! We still keep in touch.
We had two semesters of student teaching. The first 8 weeks was observing once a week and the second 8 weeks was teaching. My first assignment was in a 3rd grade class. We were in a portable. The principal took the teacher from the classroom to coordinate the fall carnival, so I was on my own from the very beginning. Never had that time where you ease in one subject at a time. I loved it! Those were my students! I met them on the first day of school and sat in on the parent conferences. Second semester was in a 5th grade class. The teacher had been teaching for over 20 years and had great classroom management. I was overwhelmed by the number of students even though they were really well behaved.
After student teaching I knew that the younger grades were more my style. I have taught upper grades 4-6 for 6 years because I moved with my hubby's job and took the job that was offered. But I am really glad to be back in 1st grade.