“Today is my first day of student teaching. I have to say I am a little nervous. What will they expect from me today?”
“Just be yourself and do what you know is best. You know what you are doing, ” said my husband.
Dropping my daughter off at my parent’s house, I continued my drive to the school. I was reporting to first grade in an open classroom setting. My assigned teacher was incredible, and our class was full. I would have the opportunity to co-teach with Title I teachers as more than half of our class qualified for support.
I loved the staff and students. It was an excellent experience for me. I asked if I could take the lead in organizing the Unit for Three Little Pigs. I wanted to plan some activities for the other groups to do with us. This is when things fell apart.
My sister made us matching patterned pig vests for the day. We read stories of The Three Little Pigs and The Fourth Little Pig. I had one of my farmer friends bring some real little pigs to the school for the kids to see, touch and experience. When they saw them, they were so excited! We told the pigs and farmer goodbye. Then we prepared our snacks. Ham sandwiches. What? I just had the kids play with baby pigs, and now we are eating their parents. Oh my! I have just failed student teaching and caused all of these children trauma.
Really, who would do something like this in their purposeful planning? The expectations for me to know this was not a good idea was a given. However, I did not make a connection until that very moment.
The kids did not think anything about it. The adults were all laughing at my face of horror. The day ended, and it was a lesson learned!
The expectation we have for professionals is that they will do their jobs thoughtfully and with a level of expertise. As a student teacher, I was learning with supervision, but this was an impactful lesson learned. We need to plan our lessons with expertise, focus on students’ needs and learning. Most importantly, not cover content but connect it to real-world experience. However, make sure you don’t connect it in a manner over the top with the potential for trauma.
Let’s fast forward to today. Looking back to my student teaching days, I have learned a great deal. Now I have the opportunity to pass on lessons learned to new teachers in the district I student taught in through mentoring.
I student taught in first grade. What are the chances I would meet one of these students again? You would think teaching them once was enough, but I found myself with one of them in front of me as a new teacher in our district mentoring program. How do I know? She remembered The Three Little Pigs Unit.
Expectations are a big topic I plan to explore more, but I will leave you with this thought as you are in the middle of your week. As educators, a great deal rests on our shoulders. The expectations may appear to be unattainable to us during a frustrating day. My story is true, and it makes me laugh whenever I think about The Three Little Pigs. Still, some expectations behind it are something others don’t always list as priorities—fun, creative, innovation, and silly. Kids learn and remember when we include expectations people don’t expect.
Thank you for being part of the solution daily. Enjoy the day with unexpected positive things!