Thursday, April 21, 2011

My Contribution as a Cooperating Teacher

Endings are always bittersweet for me.  I love the feeling of completing a task or a process but it's always just a tiny bit sad to see things come to an end at the same time.  Today was definitely a bittersweet ending for me because I had to say goodbye (for now) to the senior practicum student who has been working with me for the last 6 weeks.

Last year, when I was working on National Boards certification, I had to complete an entry that asked me to talk about myself as a leader, learner, and collaborator.  I used my work with university students and new teachers as one example of how I make an impact as a leader, learner and collaborator.  National Boards is all about looking at how we make an impact on student learning.  The work I do in talking with university students or new teachers about their teaching directly impacts those students that these teachers teach.  I can help the practicum students impact my students and then hopefully take what they have learned as they advance into student teaching and then teaching.

Jaclyn read and shared Fantastic Mr. Fox with students!
Today, I'm swelling with triumph in knowing that I made an impact on Jaclyn who completed her 6-week senior practicum experience with me today.  I feel like she grew so much throughout the experience and it was great to talk to her about my philosophy of teaching and to hear how her beliefs about teaching have developed after working with me.  I truly feel like she gets it when it comes to having a passion for literacy and for sharing the enthusiasm with the students while still working on developing their skills as a reader.

I hope she is able to continue to share a love of reading with students as she continues on to student teaching and that her enthusiasm for reading and teaching continues to grow.  It's an amazing feeling to know I could model how to be a teaching of the will and the skill of reading and even more awesome to know that my modeling did carry over and she understands what I believe teaching reading is all about.

Jaclyn is the 5th senior practicum student I have hosted and I look forward to welcoming more students from the university into my "classroom".  Most of my experiences with practicum students have been positive.  Only once have I felt like it was a lot of work and energy that I put into making a tiny fraction of an impact.  I have to honestly say that was hard and sometimes exhausting but even that one time when I felt like the student still had a lot of growing to do, I felt like I made a difference no matter how miniscule.
Jaclyn with Eric Rohmann and Lois Lowry

And that's why I continue to offer to be a cooperating teacher.  It's not easy, it does take extra work, and sometimes patience but I know that I can make some kind of a difference - big or small.  The bonus is working with an amazing practicum student because it makes me feel like I made a massive impact.  I'm sad that I won't have my sidekick with me on Monday who I can talk to and brainstorm with but I'm elated knowing that her experience was so positive and that I had the opportunity to work with someone who will be a great addition to the field of teaching.

I recommend hosting a practicum student or a student teacher.  Have you hosted a practicum student of a student teacher?  How was the experience for you?  What was the highlight of the experience for you?  Do you have any advice for someone who is thinking about being a cooperating teacher?  I'd love to hear about your experience or your thoughts!


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