When I was approached last Spring about taking on a student teacher, many of my co-workers relayed horror stories of their experiences as a cooperating teacher. This, combined with my own observations of some student teachers, led me to reconsider my decision many times. Lucky for me, the student teacher I am working with is great. He knows his content, he knows how to teach, and he has the ability to shift gears on the fly – a skill that many veteran teachers sometimes lack.
For the past few weeks, he has been the main teacher in my social science class, which means I’m out of the classroom. I have two takeaways from this.
First, time is a gift. Being out of the classroom for 4 additional periods a day gives you time to get things done. I’ve been able to plan ahead, create new units of study, do curriculum work, and research new ideas to try (like Genius Hour). All teachers say, “I wish I had time to…” Right now, I have that time to do whatever my heart desires, and I am so grateful for that.
But the second takeaway is the one that I think I’m more surprised by. I find myself at times being completely jealous of my student teacher because he is with my students, and I am not. As I think about the lesson that we’ve planned together, I find myself wishing I was there to see this, or explain that. While I have moments of being completely annoyed that I’m not teaching a lesson, I couldn’t be happier about it. What if I found myself dreading coming back into the classroom? The fact that I’m so excited to be coming back to the classroom shows me that I still have the passion for this job that I had when I was 22. In fact, I think I have a greater passion for teaching now than I did in my first few years.
To all the teachers who think that taking on a student teacher is too big of a responsibility, all I can do is pass on my experience. When my wife and I were dating in college and separated by 750 miles, I used to hear people say, “absence makes the heart grow fonder.” That statement was true then, and it is true for me and the classroom.