Updated: Mar 4, 2020
Welcome to episode 44! Today in this solo episode I am sharing some tips to help you make the most out of your class with a field component or observation. What I mean by this is focusing on classes where you go out into classrooms and work with students. These courses are critical when it comes to teacher training. Go to www.sfecich.com/44 for this episode's freebie!
Ashlyn Hunker, a preservice teacher shares, “the best way to approach your college career is to put not only your whole mind but your whole heart into your learning. The same goes for field courses. Make the most of this experience. Take every opportunity to interact with the students and learn from your mentors.” It is easy to find the direct benefits of these courses because we can easily apply our knowledge to the classroom. Sometimes these courses are later in our development as a teacher - but here is a secret - you don’t have to wait to get involved in a classroom!
Friends don’t wait until you have a course with a field component to get out there and work with children to do it now (as long as you have all of your clearances). During your freshman year get out and observe in classes related to your area of concentration. Having these early experiences of observation and teaching mini-lessons can really help you to decide if teaching is right for you. Often times these learning experiences can confirm within your heart, yes I want to be an educator of excellence, or hmm maybe teaching isn’t for me - I need to explore this more.
You may also want to explore summer job opportunities that have elements of teaching embedded within them such as:
Sunday school teacher
Vacation bible school teacher
Camp counselor (day camp / overnight camp)
Classroom aide or personal care aide for a student during the extended school year
Volunteer at your local library
The list goes on but you get the picture, think about ways you can try out teaching in low-risk environments to see if it is the right fit for you.
Some tips to be successful in a course with a field experience:
Set up the experience early. You don’t want to be waiting until the last few weeks of class to line up a field experience.
Go outside of your comfort zone. Meaning don’t choose a field experience for the sake of convenience for you. Try something that is really going to stretch you as an educator. If I were to go back and do it all again I would document each field experience and try to have at least one experience in different grade levels in which I was certified.
Go in with a plan. Meaning doesn’t just go into the classroom without an idea of what you need to accomplish. Most professors will include reflection questions or features to be looking for during a field experience. Make sure you have a list of those available to you. You may want to include a list of questions on a sheet of paper or on your computer that you can be documenting throughout the experience. Document your learning as much as you can.
Get involved with students if you can. Ask the cooperating teacher first and see what you can do to work with students. Jordyn Pistili adds, “Capitalize on this opportunity. capitalize on any opportunity you have to engage with learners. Obviously discuss this with your co-op first.”
Engage with different teachers. If you can get in and observe different teachers by doing so you will be exposed to different teaching methods and pedagogies. You will see different classroom management techniques and how teachers interact with students. In sum, you will add to your repertoire of knowledge.
In the same vein, try to observe a specialist. If you can get time to interview or sit in on a session with a speech therapist, special education teacher, co-teacher, art teacher, reading specialist, etc. You get the idea. By doing so you can see how a school comes together as a team to support ALL students. Jesse Belitz adds, “Make an effort to look for things you have never seen before to gain wider perspectives. It can be easy to passively observe in the back while not getting much out of it, but we have to make a conscious effort to make these experiences valuable!”
Ask all the questions! Don’t be afraid to ask the cooperating teacher questions that you have about the content, methods, technology, strategies used in the lesson. Ask about procedures and techniques. I suggest making a spot on your notes for you to write down the questions that you have throughout the experience so you don’t forget anything.
Find a space where you can document all of your field experiences. So you can keep track of the number of hours you have had in the field and experiences you have had in them. Here is an example of information that you can document all of your field experiences: Date, Time in and out, School district and location, School name, Teacher name, Classroom Description, and Top 3 takeaways from the field experience
Include a description of the experience, what you learned from it, and if you can take a picture or two of you doing your thing- which is teaching. 💡Fecich tip: Make sure you have appropriate permissions to take pictures of students.
Trust me, friends you don’t want to get all the way to your senior year and go through student teaching and decide that teaching is not your jam. So do yourself a favor, get into the classroom early and often. A course with a field component allows you to see theory in practice, you can connect and directly apply your learning in your coursework to what you are observing in the classroom. So go all in and make the time you have with children valuable and meaningful for them and you!
Shout outs in this episode go to:
💡AAEE Education Candidate portal - Create a free educator candidate account and you can find resources for resumes, job fair calendar, interview tips, and more!
💡GET YOUR FREE GUIDE TO EDUMAGIC IN STUDENT TEACHING- Learn how to crush it before, during and after student teaching with these helpful tips!