top of page
  • Theresa Wampler

Dependent Clauses

Dear ICTE,

While the last year and a half have taught me a lot about technology and how to teach amidst a global pandemic, I worry about how much different my undergrad experience looks like compared to teachers who graduated prior to COVID-19. Many of my in-person college classes that included opportunities for me to observe and work with students and teachers in classrooms were cancelled and turned into online classes when the pandemic started. As a preservice teacher who has spent very little time in classrooms putting theory into practice and observing teachers due to restrictions with the pandemic, how can I better prepare myself for student teaching and my first teaching position?

-Whitney Shelton

ICTE Undergraduate Representative

Ball State University

Hi, Whitney!

First, find a nice big table that you fit under and have a good cry... I'm kidding, kind of.

As far as student teaching goes, get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Student teaching is awkward, you don't know who you are as a teacher yet. You won't know this until somewhere around year three but definitely by year five. You have who you think you are as a teacher, and you have who you really are as a teacher. I find myself even in my ninth year of teaching saying yes or no to things I never thought I would give those answers to. "What? You work best if you can lie down in the back of the room? Fine, prove it. I'll give you one chance." That is not the teacher I thought I would be. But I digress. Student teaching is all about learning as much as you can from a mentor teacher- even if it's what you won't do in your own classroom and making what you would do fit within someone else's classroom. You will feel weird about taking up thier space, they may initially feel weird about you taking up their space. Steal as many ideas as you can because you will need a very deep bench when you leave their classroom and take on your own. Ask questions. If you don't know what the heck they are talking about (SO MANY ACRONYMS) stop them and ask them to explain.

Once you land that first job in your very own classroom, find a mentor teacher... even if the school you teach at assigns you one, find another one. The more the better. No, seriously. You don't just need to know the ins and outs of the students (find a mentor teacher that had your students in years past, they can help unravel so many mysteries about the students) but also you need to know where the copy machine is, where to go when there is any type of safety drill, where the staff bathroom is and how to get into said bathroom, and where you can store your lunch. Also find the teacher with the hidden snack drawer and become their best friend. Trust me on this one. In every school there is the one teacher that is like everyone's parent, they will keep you from quitting your job more times in your first year than you have fingers and toes. Be prepared to cry at least once. You will tell yourself that you will not take student behavior personally, but you will inevitably take it personally at least once and then you will cry. I suggest doing it under your desk after school while you stuff mini peanut butter cups in your face. This is called survival. Every first year teacher does it. After you're done crying, find your teacher bestie and vent to them. You will feel much better.

In this COVID world that will hopefully be a post COVID world soon, just know that right now most students are happy to be back in the classrooms. That's where their friends are. Be honest with them. Tell them you are learning alongside them and if they give you a chance, they may help you become the teacher students like them need in the future. Keep an open mind. I never thought I would love my eighth graders as much as I do. That grade is my jam. They are my kids. I will fight for them every single time. My very first class in my very own classroom will always hold a special place in my heart. I grew up as a teacher with them. I made mistakes with them, but they showed me they didn't hold grudges. So I stopped holding grudges when they made mistakes... and they were eighth graders, they made oodles of mistakes daily. Give yourself grace because you will be your toughest critic.

There is no preparing to be a teacher. Sure you go through your teacher classes and you get the theory down. Nothing, and I do literally mean nothing, will prepare you for the very first day when it is you on your own with the students. Smile at them, they don't bite... hard... often.

Also DO NOT spend all of your money on your classroom before you are getting a regular paycheck. I know setting up a classroom year one is daunting and look at all of the cute things... Figure out a way to make some of the decorations yourself, ask former teachers if they have things they could donate to your classroom. Don't go for the Pinterest perfect classroom if it means you won't be able to buy groceries for a month. It's not worth it. Know your limitations with your money. Don't let teacher guilt (it's a real thing, and it's dangerous) tell you that you have to buy all of the supplies. No one ever warns you of that. You have to set boundaries. I know we all want to be that teacher that always has the supplies for the students no matter what but you also need to be able to take care of your needs as a person as well.

-Theresa Wampler

ICTE Secretary

Super School 19, Indianapolis

21 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page