An Interview with Sonam Shahani: About Student Teaching

Jan 16, 2011 by

Michael F. Shaughnessy
Eastern New Mexico University
Portales, New Mexico

1) Sonam, I understand that you have been blogging about your student teaching experience. What led you to do this?

I planned to use a blog to post reflections about my student teaching experiences so that I could observe my growth through the Professional Development Sequence of the degree plan. However, as I spoke to my peers I noticed that while we were excited about this new experience, we had many questions. As pre-service teachers we do not have extensive experience in classrooms and would like to know the ins and outs of those first few semesters we are placed in the field as interns. I wanted my blog to be a resource for undergraduate pre-service teachers as well as professionals who are interested in current teacher preparation programs.  

2) Does your University or supervising student teacher know about this? Any problems?

My student teaching coordinator, cooperating (supervising) teacher, advisor, and professors know about this. The principal of elementary school, the undergraduate dean of the college, and the director of field experiences know about this. There are no problems at all because we understand that this is not a critique of either the teacher preparation program at my University or the teaching practices at the elementary school. This blog is supposed to be a positive resource for students and professionals to read about my thoughts as a teaching intern.

3) What was your first day like?

I became a bit teary eyed when I went with the teacher on the first day to pick up the Pre-K students from the school cafeteria where they wait in the morning. I know that sounds strange and maybe a little corny, but I was finally beginning a completely new experience in my undergraduate career.  Because of my double major in Finance and Elementary Education, planning courses so that I may begin the Professional Development Sequence (PDS) on time has always been a challenge. Therefore, starting the PDS with the rest of my peers was a relief and a welcome event in my life.

I was apprehensive about my cooperating teacher (CT) on the first day. I heard from older students that the internship experience is greatly influenced by the cooperating teacher you are assigned to. Fortunately, my CT was very excited to have my partner and me in the classroom and included us in the classroom activities right away. Reading a book that day to the students actually scared me, yet I’m so glad my CT asked me to do it. Much of the day I focused on getting to know the students, learning their names, and getting used to being called “Ms. Sonam”. I had a question about everything that occurred the first day and spent much of lunchtime picking my CT’s brain about her teaching career.

In all, I left the school on the first day feeling energized and confident about the upcoming months. Many of my misconceptions about Pre-K were invalidated and my eyes were opened to many aspects of teaching that I did not know about.

4) How are you feeling about the experience so far?

I’m feeling optimistic and confident about this experience. The pre-service teachers have many supporters from the University. We are encouraged to ask questions and reflect with one another about our experiences. Furthermore, the pre-service teachers in my cohort will be together throughout the next three semesters – like a teaching family. This network of support gives me confidence.

5) Do you feel prepared for the experience?

The classes I have taken thus far have opened my mind and prompted discussion about many important topics within the field of education. Our professors have prepared us extensively by teaching us about the background and foundation of education in the U.S. As a result, I am knowledgeable about factors influencing learning, teaching methods, education theories, etc. I have learned skills and methods that can be used in the classroom; however, these skills cannot be solidified except through real classroom experience. Classroom learning can only prepare pre-service teachers up to a certain point. After learning ABOUT teaching, only through field experiences can I learn how TO teach. Fortunately, the University creates cohorts through which students are assigned to the same schools and can reflect upon their experiences with one another. These cohorts offer extensive support and learning experiences.

6) What surprised you if anything?

I was surprised to see the amount of work a teacher does. Within the first day of my field experience, I observed that the teacher was constantly moving, constantly teaching, and constantly aware. Society tends to label a teacher’s job as “easy” or “laid back”. In reality, teachers have an important job to complete. There is no such thing as having a “bad day” or simply “calling in sick”. The teacher has an influence that extends far beyond himself or herself. By the end of the first day I felt exhausted, and I’m just an intern. I didn’t do nearly as much work as the lead teacher.

7) How do you find time to prepare for student teaching, develop lesson plans, reflect on your experiences, and at the same time write this blog?

Time that was previously spent napping is now spent on schoolwork. It’s simply a matter of disciplined time management and reprioritizing my responsibilities. It’s time to grow up. This is the transition period between my college life and my professional life.

8) Where is it being posted?

My blog can be viewed here: http://educationviews.org/author/sonam/

 

9) Anything you would like to share?

Please feel free to post comments or questions directly to my entries or send them to my email address: sonam.shahani@bba07.mccombs.utexas.edu. I am new to the education field and want to learn from others who are more experienced.

 

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