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Tales of a student teacher: My practicum experience

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By Colleen McLaughlin

To Stonehill students who are not education majors, the concept of student teaching
is slightly confusing, if not completely elusive. To education majors, student teaching is quite literally the light at the end of the tunnel, the pinnacle of our work at Stone- hill. As a student teacher this semester, I have found that my non-education friends are bewildered at my everyday life.

Let me break it down for those of you that are not fortunate enough to have an education major in your life. Student teachers are full-time teachers who spend all day, every day in a single classroom (some student teachers actually change classrooms mid-semester, but I will keep it simple for the time being). I plan lessons, create materials and grade tests/quizzes/worksheets. I attend professional development days, schedule parent-teacher meetings and conferences and complete student progress reports and report cards. From my departure from Stonehill at 7:30 a.m. until I arrive back on Stonehill’s campus around 5:00 p.m., I am a teacher.

Without a doubt, the most challenging aspect of being a student teacher is the conflict between being a student and being a teacher. During the day, I am Miss Colleen. I am a teacher, with all of those responsibilities. But unlike adult teachers, I come back to Stonehill after school and need to be a college student again. For me, being a student comes with being a Resident Staff Assistant, the President of the Stonehill Musical Theatre Club and the Vice-President of Kappa Delta Pi (education honors society).

As I am sure many Summit readers recognize from their own schedules, I am often in meetings or other extracurricular activities until late into the evening. The teachers I work with are both puzzled and dismayed by how late into the evening my commitments last. There are also requirements of me as a student that typical teachers do not have – I have to complete an extensive portfolio to be licensed by the state, I must write all of my lesson plans out (typically three pages per plan), and I must attend a two-hour class every Monday afternoon, which comes with its own homework assignments.

This clash between student and teacher also affects my social life. Owen’s/Brother Mike’s? Absolutely not. I have to be a functioning adult in front of 23 second graders on Friday morning. Halloween dance? I will pass, the Halloween parade at my school was quite possibly the most exhausting event I have ever experienced. Winesday Wednesday? Not happening; I need to be at school late prepping materials for the following week.

Next semester will be my last at Stonehill. I am taking a full course load of 16 credits, mostly classes that finish off my liberal arts major, which is Political Science. Most of the seniors I have talked to have recently expressed how relieved I must be to go back to a college schedule, one that allows me to sleep until 9:00 a.m. and participate in Thirsty Thursday. But, in reality, it is quite the opposite.

Now that I’ve gotten a glimpse into my future, I’m ready to dive right in. All I want is to spend my life in a second-grade classroom. This semester has actually been the best semester of my college career, despite its challenges, and I am dreading Dec. 11, the day I leave my classroom, more than I have anything in a long time.

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