For every college senior, there is a whirlpool of emotions to be expected upon graduation day in the spring. However, while most college seniors spend their last semester soaking up the perks of college life and battling symptoms of senioritis, education majors do not have this luxury.
Senior education majors spend their last semester of college student teaching. During this final semester, they are not only learning, but teaching a classroom of students full time.
Student teachers work with a cooperating teacher throughout their entire last semester. They are in charge of their cooperating teacher’s classroom. This includes not only disciplinary issues, lesson planning and grading, but also transitioning into the world of professionalism.
Instructor of education Shelley Doerschuk said the process of changing sides of the desk can be very overwhelming for the student teachers.
“It’s like having a full time job,” senior early childhood education major Baili Burdeshaw said.
Burdeshaw said student teachers have to be constantly focused for their classroom full of students.
Student teachers not only feel the stress from the workload of teaching full time, but also have to balance their social lives and other activities outside of student teaching.
Senior Spanish education major Ashley Depew said, “We’re not trying to avoid anyone, it just happens.”
Senior secondary math education major Jake Byrley agreed with Depew that balancing a social life on campus while student teaching can be challenging.
“I definitely feel disengaged from campus,” Byrley said. “I wish my friends knew [that] as much as I try and want to be around them, I can’t all the time because I have so much other stuff going on. The workload is just an insurmountable amount.”
Burdeshaw said she tries to remain present in every other aspect of her life and has learned how to blend student teaching into it.
“Student teaching is not something you can segment,” Burdeshaw said.
Although transitioning into the professional world may be overwhelming and at times intimidating, the benefits are worth the significant change for the education majors’ final semester.
“I feel a part of the community and have been welcomed in,” Burdeshaw said about her current student teaching experience in the Jackson Local School District.
“The parents have written me cards about how well I am doing,” Burdeshaw said. “I didn’t expect it to be so easy to form these relationships with not only the kids but the parents.”
Depew also said it has been very rewarding to build relationships with the students.
Byrley said he appreciates the reassurance factor that has come with student teaching.
“I am surprised at how much I love it even though I am not getting paid. I know I am doing what I am meant to do,” Byrley said.
Burdeshaw said student teaching is what you make of it.
“You must reach a student’s heart before you can reach their mind,” Burdeshaw said.
Although student teachers may not experience a normal college life during their last semester, they gain a professional hands-on experience and have the opportunity to influence the lives of their students.
Erin Montgomery is a contributing writer for The Aviso AVW.