My Guided Practice Experience
Erika currently lives in Burlington, Vermont and she attends the Master of Arts in Teaching program at USC as a credential-seeking, multi-subject candidate. Read about her experience in Guided Practice and how she developed her teaching skills. If you want to learn more about Erika read her student spotlight.
As I prepare to start Guided Practice B in a few days, I cannot help but reflect on how far I have come since the beginning of Guided Practice A. Multi-subject credential candidates in the USC Rossier Master of Arts in Teaching program are required to participate in two separate 10-week sessions of student teaching. I began my first session in March of 2013 at Champlain Elementary School in Burlington, Vermont. I worked in a third grade classroom with a Guiding Teacher who has 40 years of teaching experience! My ten weeks in that class were a wonderful adventure in practical learning.
On my first day, I was very excited to meet the students, but I definitely had a case of the jitters. As with any new job, everything was unfamiliar. However, slowly but surely, I began to put names with faces, and finally learned where the copiers, printers and bathrooms were. I also got to know the students better with each passing day, and began to feel like an integral part of the classroom, instead of simply an observer.
I was very nervous to teach my first lesson. In retrospect, I realized there was nothing to worry about. The lesson was not perfect, but it went relatively smoothly. As time passed, I realized that no lesson would ever be perfect. As teachers, we learn by reflecting and making changes for next time. At the end of my ten weeks, I had taken over the majority of the lessons and completed four solo days, which means I was responsible for a full day of instruction. It felt natural to me by that point, and it was a lot of fun!
I feel that my Guided Practice professor, along with USC Rossier’s curriculum, nurtured my development as a teacher and fully prepared me to feel confident in front of the students. I cannot pinpoint a specific moment or turning point for me, but a transformation definitely took place, and eventually the classroom felt like my second home. I woke up each day, eager to see the students and continue our journey of learning together.
Pre-planning meetings with my Guiding Teacher, feedback from my professor and debriefs were all very helpful throughout Guided Practice A. Although my professor lived in a different state and could not physically observe me in the classroom, she was able to observe my teaching through various videotaped lessons I submitted. Her commentary on the videos served as a very beneficial reflection tool for me. Our weekly class meetings were also great because I was able to discuss problems or questions with my classmates and get their advice. Although the logistics of each of our placements varied greatly, we were all going through the same process together. My colleagues became a great support system.
For Guided Practice B, I will be student teaching at the same school, but this time I will be with second graders and a new Guiding Teacher. I am really looking forward to experiencing the beginning of the school year in contrast to the latter part, which I saw during Guided Practice A. I believe the first few weeks of school are crucial, so I am excited to witness them first-hand. No jitters this time around, just enthusiastic anticipation for another round of learning and fun!