Experiences in the Classroom Term Paper

Pages: 5 (1565 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 2  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Teaching

¶ … Teaching

I think I always wanted to be a teacher. I remember thinking in kindergarten that it would be great to be the teacher because you could say it was finger-painting time any time you wanted.

By second grade it dawned on me that teachers seem to know a great deal. I really didn't have any idea where they learned it all. It just seemed to me that if you were a teacher, you knew an awful lot, and I liked learning. My second grade teacher could talk about anything. No matter what people brought in for show and tell, she seemed to know something about it. If someone brought in a pretty rock, by the end of the day there was a book about rocks in the room. I didn't know at the time that the librarian helped her with this. She probably sent a student to the library with a list of topics she needed books on. I know that when it was my turn to be the "messenger" for the day, sometimes the message I took was to the library.

By the end of third grade I knew that there was a tremendous amount of knowledge in books, but I didn't want to just read books. I wanted to talk about what was in them, too, and that's what teachers did. They talked about what was in the books. The good ones made it more interesting. So even though a lot of information came from books, I didn't want to be a librarian. The library could find a book or other information on just about anything, but it was the teacher who talked about it with us.Download full Download Microsoft Word File
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Term Paper on Experiences in the Classroom Assignment

By fifth grade I had a broader view of teachers. I was more perceptive about people, and I realized that I liked some teachers a lot more than others. Some teachers didn't seem to elaborate much on what we were supposed to learn, while others did a lot of that. But I also noticed that some teachers played favorites with students, and some openly disliked some students. Those students were usually boys who tended to be troublemakers, but my picture of a teacher had been more like a mother, someone who will value you no matter what you do. By fifth grade I knew that wasn't always true. This was when I began forming an opinion about what kind of teacher I wanted to be. I may not have been the typical high-achieving student who wanted to be a teacher. I made good grades in most subjects, but I struggled some in math. Because of this, in high school I learned first-hand what it was like to be the student teachers weren't so wild about as well as the one teachers loved to have.

I think that experience has served me well as a teacher, because I knew that some of my students would have to work harder in some subjects than others, and that just because a student is smart doesn't mean that he or she does everything with equal ease.

My college education as a future teacher was very good in some ways. I was working in a classroom by my sophomore year, and each year I had more contact with schools and students. I think I was as well prepared as anyone could be for student teaching. Student teaching was a lot of work, but that didn't surprise me because of the way college set up programs that gradually increased the responsibilities of future teachers when they were in a classroom.

However, student teaching is really very different than actually being hired as a teacher and being responsible for your students' progress for an entire year. In fact, as a student teacher I was responsible for all of the instruction for the last two weeks. That was a tremendous amount of work. At the time, I really didn't appreciate that even with this level of responsibility, a lot of work had been done for me. The cooperating teacher had already planned the year out. I only had to fit two weeks' worth of lessons into her master plan. She was a good teacher, and this really wasn't very hard. She had some years' experience with that curriculum, and had all kinds of materials available for me to draw upon. The school was a strong school overall with a good library and a good librarian. The librarian also had collected resources over the years that fit with the school's curriculum.

A actually had it very, very easy as a student teacher, even though I worked very, very hard. Daugherty (2003) described a good-first year teacher as someone who has "a desire to reach each individual student -- to challenge the 'high achiever' while encouraging and nurturing the student who may be struggling." I certainly held that desire -- and still do -- but student teaching did not prepare me for just how challenging that might be over the course of a year. The reality is that a fourth grade may contain, in 25 students, two who are nearly non-readers and two whose reading skills are off the chart. it's not hard to prepare two weeks of social studies for such a group; the poor readers, for instance, can make a three-dimensional display of how deltas form, while the gifted students might do research about what contributions wetlands make to world ecology, or try to predict what would happen to the environment if all the wetlands disappeared.

But I already had the larger structure of the curriculum put in place for me. I had a cooperating teacher who had taught delta development to all kinds of students for some years. I had a supervising professor virtually on call. I could call him with any problem and he would have good -- really good -- suggestions for me.

When I was hired as a first year teacher, I was assigned to a mentor, and the other teachers at my grade level were extremely helpful. However, as President Truman said, the buck stopped at my desk. I could gather all the information I wanted, talk with my mentor teacher, meet with my teammates, and even call my old supervising professor, but ultimately it was up to me to make a very complex situation -- a classroom -- work -- for the students, and for me. As Badie reported a first year teacher saying, "a big adjustment has been "realizing you are fully responsible for these children six hours a day."

This is something I knew intellectually when I graduated from college, but I didn't know it concretely. I didn't know what it meant on a day-to-day basis.

I was lucky, because I did my first year of teaching in a very supportive school. The principal understood that first year teachers will have great enthusiasm, but sometimes be lacking certain basic skills. I joke about it and call it "crowd control." Learning how to keep students engaged in learning is the best way to avoid behavior problems, but most first-year teachers have a lot to learn about keeping children's attention all day. In college, I would put two hours into a lesson plan that would result in 30 minutes of instruction. That got me great college grades and lots of praise as a developing future teacher, but it's just not realistic when you have to teach for most of the day.

Tied to that was the reality of what are called "planning periods." Very often I was not able to use that time for planning. I needed that time to call parents, talk to other grade level teachers, the nurse, the principal, or the counselor, or attend an IEP for one of my many students with IEP's. Five had IEP's… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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