Eight weeks can go by quickly. I have had an absolutely incredible student teacher named Heather Wells for the past two months, and today is her last day. It has been a great experience for me, my students, and (hopefully) for her. I wish I had the full sixteen weeks with her, but those pesky K-12th grade certification requirements took away that time so Heather could hang out with little kids for a while. Nevertheless, I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to have her in my classroom.
When I look back on that, and think about why, it comes back to the fact that Heather was just about everything you could ask for with a student teacher.
Let’s face it: I’m not the easiest person in the world to work with. I’m cranky. I’m demanding. I hate delegating. Heather, however, handled these things with grace and aplomb. And more importantly, she wasn’t afraid to yell at me when I needed it. She fit herself seamlessly into my classroom and did everything I asked and more. She ingrained herself into the classroom routine without altering it, yet still was able to make the classes her own. That’s something both the students and I see and appreciate.
Dedication and Passion
I don’t miss the first couple years of teaching, when (at least for me) it was a ridiculous amount of hours spent every single day, every day of the week. I think that in order to do something special–I mean to be a really, really good high school teacher–you need to dedicate yourself to that amount of time. And you can’t have that dedication without being passionate about what you do.
Heather embraced this–she spent so much time learning my curriculum, then on top of it creating her own lessons that were spectacular. She was creating meaningful lessons, she was conversing and interacting with students, she was making examples, she was creating her own work. She was doing everything a good teacher does, and she was loving it. When you love what you do, those extra hours and extra effort don’t matter at all. When I see a teacher put everything they have into their teaching, I can’t help but respect that.
I’ve had some practicum students and student teachers whose biggest questions revolve around “Do I have enough watercolor paper?” or “Can I give the kids an extra day on this?”. I was really impressed, then, when Heather’s first questions dealt with building an art program, the sequencing of our curriculum, and the best ways to motivate students. We spent a considerable amount of time talking about ideas–our conversations dealt very little with logistics, but instead focused on the big picture when it comes to teaching art. That has been very beneficial to both of us, maybe even more for me than her.
I hate giving over my classroom, but I really couldn’t ask for anyone better to take it for a couple of months. I was able to relax, knowing my kids were in good hands when she was running the show. She added a lot to my classroom and the education of my students over the past two months, and I appreciate it. I owe Heather a lot for allowing me the time to do some new things I wouldn’t have the time to do otherwise (you’re reading the biggest one right now). But I wrote her what may be the greatest letter of recommendation in the history of letters of recommendation, so we should be even.