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Thanks to Student Teachers

If you have never had the pleasure of opening up your classroom to a student teacher, I highly recommend that you consider doing so. I just finished my tenth year in the same first grade classroom and I had never had a student teacher until last year. I had considered opening my classroom doors to a college student many times before but I worried that I wasn't good enough, I didn't know if what I had to share would be helpful to someone, if I could give up control of my students, if I could dole out constructive criticism without feeling like a jerk, if I could relax and still be my goofy self with someone in the room? I still wonder if I would have ever made the choice to ask for a student teacher- so lucky for me, I had my first one sort of end up in my doorway without even having to make that decision for myself. 

Since Layne was with me back in the Fall of 2007, I worked with Molly in the Fall of 2009 and just recently taught with Jennifer as a student intern this semester. I have thoroughly enjoyed each one of them and have felt so blessed to have had three wonderful ladies in a row. They have all been naturals educators and each one of them has brought something different to my classroom. Layne's love of science and careful execution of her lessons allowed me the first opportunity to let my students go and know they were in excellent hands. Molly's sense of humor and  elegant ease with our students showed me that I am not the only "crazy teacher" out there. And Jennifer's quiet confidence and willingness to jump right in demonstrated to me the possibility of excellent learning for students when two people are teaching as a team. Being with all of these wonderful young professionals has helped me to reflect on my own teaching practices, work on my weaknesses and grow and learn as a mentor and as a classroom teacher.


Recently I had to write an essay about advice I would give to a new teacher. I will share an excerpt of it here.   

"-This is a difficult career path, but often times, you will get more satisfaction out of your job in one day then most feel over a lifetime.

-Your classroom is yours to own with your students that year.  It is a home away from home for you all.  Make it so. Learn to peacefully and respectfully coexist, make it a place of joy and laughter, of discovery and learning.

-Lean on other teachers for support and to exchange knowledge, or it will be easy to feel isolated and become stagnant.  Don’t be afraid to make mistakes or ask for help. Discuss you worries and fears.  You will find that even seasoned teachers do the same.  This helps to keep us in our classrooms for so long and still be productive.

-Forgive yourself the times when you are grumpy or short tempered.  We are only human and as long as you treat your students with respect on a daily basis and apologize, they will forgive you.  These kinds of days will teach you humility.

-You will feel physically and emotionally exhausted and empty more times then not.  But one hug, one small triumph, that to most people would seem insignificant, will fill you right back up again.

-You will have to deal with tears, runny noses, bathroom accidents and the occasional vomiting, but the hugs, smiles, giggles, oooh’s, aah’s and squeals of delight happen with far more frequency.

-Stand up, speak out, and be heard.  Remember, you bring new and fresh ideas to your school community- let them be heard!

-Some of your students’ parents will disappoint you beyond belief, but most will try to do better for their children then they had for themselves.  Remember, you never know where someone has been, or where they are, until you have walked in their shoes. 

-You will not automatically be overwhelmed with love for every child that walks through your classroom door.  It might take some time, but you will learn to find something about each child that is special.

-You will have kids that will haunt your memory.  You will wonder, even as years have passed, “Did I do enough… are they ok… are they still struggling?”  These are the children that will challenge you to do your very best each day. They will also help your heart grow to accommodate even more patience, strength and love.

-You will have days when nothing goes right with your students. When the paperwork and other responsibilities make you feel overworked and disillusioned.  You will wonder if you are making a difference.  I promise you that you are. 



Teaching is a calling. If you are a good teacher, you are vulnerable when you teach.  You bring things that you care about and enjoy to your class.  You speak with honesty and openness.  You are not afraid to admit when you are wrong.  You laugh and you cry.  You are human. What is this calling to teach, if not the growing of humans?  Educated, caring humans full of self worth, wonder, imagination, creativity and belief they can make a difference in this world." 

Thank you to Layne, Molly and Jennifer and to all of us who gave that time in the classroom before walking down the aisle to graduate. I am proud to be a teacher and proud to work with and learn from the newest educators in our profession.

“There will come a time when you believe everything is finished- that will be the beginning.” - Louis L’Amour 

Elena, Kristen & Layne
The student teaching crew from Fall of 2007! They all have their own classrooms now and are doing an amazing job with their students!

Layne Opening Gifts
Layne's last day party! The kids were so excited to give her the bag full of gifts. They each put their hand print and signed their name on the bag.
Layne w: kids  
Final photos with the kids!
Molly Teaching
Molly working with the kids.

Molly Halloween
Goofing around as 50's girls at Halloween!
Molly Goodbye
Big hugs and well wishes!
Decker
Jennifer and I doused in confetti from Easter cascarones! See you in August Jen~ I am looking forward to a fabulous beginning of the 2009-10 school year. 

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in Inside Jennifer's 1st Grade Classroom are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.