From the Perspective of Chicago Semester Student Teachers

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

End of Semester Thoughts...

Blair, Krissa, Rita, Erin & Drew
Imagine that an education major from your college is considering student teaching at Chicago Semester.  Consider what you would tell that person in order to encourage him/her to apply to Chicago Semester. 

Blair Berhow-Goll, Central College, Secondary Education

The most enjoyable part about Chicago Semester was the kids. Honestly, I look at the student’s I have gotten to work with, and I praise the Lord that He placed me with them. I loved loving them. I loved teaching them. I loved joking with them. I loved learning how to interact with students from different backgrounds and lifestyles than my own. Teaching in small-town Midwest, simply wouldn’t have given me the same experiences and joys.

I have learned so much about myself while teaching here. I know I can handle inner-city students. I know that I can teach. Walking into this experience, I felt like a child. I remember saying, there is absolutely no way I am ready for this, no way I know enough, no way I am strong enough, no way I am prepared enough. Well, I was pleasantly surprised. Nearly 4 years of a college education will prepare you for teaching. I learned the strength and power I have inside of a classroom. I have the power to put students at ease or to stress them out.

Chicago is one of the most sublime experiences you will have, if you choose to teach here. It is all that sublime implies; beautifully inspiring. With the people, buildings, lifestyle, culture, neighborhoods, and students I can imagine it to be very hard to be disappointed with a decision to be here.

Rita Clousing, Calvin College, Elementary Education

Student teaching through the Chicago Semester is a GREAT experience. It’s not easy, but it gives you an honest perspective as to what it is like to teach full time in an urban setting. I found that this semester is a great transition between college and “real life”, which has been nice. Living in the city is so fun, as there is always so much to do in culturally diverse settings that aren’t available elsewhere. This semester will challenge you and push you to grow as an individual and as a teacher. My experience in CPS left me confident of my teaching abilities, and the kind of teacher I want to be. Come to Chicago. Experience the city, meet some incredible children, and make some new friends. I’m so grateful for my experience here in Chicago!

Krissa Hetletvedt, Northwestern College, Elementary Education

What I enjoyed most about my student teaching experience through Chicago Semester were the kids. Kids are kids no matter where you are, but the kids at this school were extra special to me. I loved working with these kids because they came from backgrounds and cultures that are so different from my own. They taught me something new everyday! What I have learned about myself for my future career as a teacher is that I have the desire to teach kids that really need that support, stability, and love that they might not be getting at home. I would definitely recommend participating in the student teaching program through Chicago Semester. I believe that I will be a better teacher because of my teaching experience in Chicago.

Erin Schrupp, Bethel University, Elementary Education

When coming to Chicago Semester, I was nervous about being in a big city with a whole bunch of people I didn’t know. My family wasn’t here, I didn’t have any friends here, and I felt I was starting my life over in a way. But I never realized that the classroom I was placed in and the cooperating teacher I was placed with, would become my “family”.

My classroom becoming my family has been what I have enjoyed most about the Chicago Semester experience. Being a part of something greater than myself has always humbled me and filled me with joy. I enjoyed traveling on the “L” and taking the bus to my school MOST days. I enjoyed this overall experience of really delving into the city in a new light and daring to try new things I never would have back home. I have tried a whole bunch of different cuisines and have seen different sights that I never would have expected to see. I’ve been blessed with two of the greatest roommates I could have been placed with during this time who have comforted me and have also challenged me. I absolutely adored this whole experience and wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Student teaching in Chicago has taught me a lot about myself. I came here and had two options: I could remain the same old Erin I was back home, or I could be someone completely different if I really wanted to. I decided to just be myself and see where it took me. I realize that since coming here, I’m a lot stronger than I once was. I’m not talking physically strong (although walking everywhere every day has increased my cardio) I’m talking mentally and spiritually strong. When I came here, I hated being alone and I struggled with traveling by myself everywhere or every single day. No one was here to really hang out with me and I felt lonely a lot of times. I continued to struggle through this with the Lord as He always proved faithful and gave me peace. There was one day where I was over by Lake Michigan and I finally felt content exactly where I was. I felt OK with being alone and traveling alone. It has made me more independent and I am very thankful because of that.

In regards to my students, they have taught me more than I ever could have taught them. They’ve taught me what it’s like to say you’re sorry when you know you’ve wronged someone, that you should love the life you’re living even if you’re just making a paper airplane, and that hugs really can go a long way when someone needs one. They’ve taught me what it really means to love without judging someone and to not be afraid of who I am because who I am is perfect and exactly who I’m supposed to be. My students have made me a better-rounded individual and for that I am extremely grateful. If it wasn’t for them, my eyes wouldn’t have been opened to all the silliness and fun opportunities I’ve had in Chicago thus far. I whole-heartedly love my students and I honestly don’t know what I’ll do without them.

Drew LeGendre, University of Mount Union, Middle School

Personally, I understand all of the reasons that students choose not to student teach in Chicago.  Making my decision, I was giving up spending my senior year on campus with my friends; I was leaving an environment I was comfortable with, and leaving a school system I was familiar with.  I was going to live in a city I was unfamiliar with, a city classified as “dangerous”, and the third biggest city in the country.

After completing my student teaching in Chicago, I do not regret a single thing about my decision. With Chicago Semester, I have enjoyed most experience the transition between college and the real world.  Not only am I working a full time job, but I am living in the real world, which is not surrounded by a college campus or town.  I have learned so many things that will help prepare me for my future, and being on my own. 
From Chicago Semester, I have learned that I am ready for all that life past college will throw at me.  I learned how to react to students directing their anger and frustration towards me.  I learned how to write a unit lesson plan, and to teach it in a three week period. I have learned how to take a shower, drink two cups of coffee, eat breakfast, get dressed, and remember to bring everything for school in 45 minutes.   I have learned to take my family and friends to see the sights of Chicago, and experience all the city has to offer. I have learned how to prepare students for exams that will determine what high school they will attend and if they will have to stay for summer school.  

I have learned how to buy a homeless man a dinner, and shake his hand when he is crying out of happiness.   Living and teaching in Chicago has transitioned me from being a student to being a professional, and being a positive person, both inside and outside of the classroom.  I would encourage every student to step outside of their comfort zone, and experience living and teaching in Chicago.  Every person will learn and gain something different, but at the end of it, you are guaranteed to come out prepared for anything the future might throw at you.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Student Teaching - The End!

by Erin Schrupp - Ray Elementary

Saganaki at The Parthenon Restaurant

Well, the semester has finally come to a close and it’s very bittersweet. During my last week at Chicago Semester, we had a gathering at a Greek restaurant reminiscing on our experiences in the great city of Chicago. 

In regards to my own classroom, it was such a sad last day. My little kiddos made me a booklet titled, “The most important thing about Ms. Schrupp”. They each had  a page where they drew me pictures, wrote me sweet notes, and included their picture.  They choked me up with all their hugs and in that moment I couldn’t believe my time had to end. I got one of their school shirts and had them all sign it and write whatever they wanted. I will keep this shirt forever and I absolutely love it!

Blair, Krissa, Rita, Erin,and Drew

This picture is of my fellow student teachers who I was able to grow with during this semester. I wanted to also include a picture of my class while I was trying to get all of them to smile at the same time.  It’s hard to get that many second graders to smile at the same time! But because of privacy issues, I can't post it here.)  

My experience at Chicago Semester has definitely been one I will never forget. They definitely helped prepare me to have my own classroom one day. I plan on staying in this great city of Chicago to try and start my teaching career, and I have Chicago Semester to thank for that.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Student Teaching - Week #11

by Erin Schrupp - Ray Elementary

Hey all, sorry I haven’t been on top of my writing lately. I’ve been busy with my WONDERFUL STUDENTS! So this past week has been a pretty good week. I’m finally starting to get into my “groove” in regards to student teaching. The first week I started student teaching I was absolutely EXHAUSTED. I don’t think I was really prepared for it until I actually had to take over everything. Yes, I said everything. Every little thing that you can think of…I took over it. So the past couple of weeks have been a little rough, but I’m finally starting to feel comfortable remembering everything I have to do. I knew that life as a teacher would be hard, but I know that if you are well-organized and are very passionate about teaching, you’ll be just fine. It’s been cool for me to see my students continue learning, even though I’m the one who’s teaching them.

Some special moments that have happened this past week have dealt with my students. My students are now calling my cooperating teacher Ms. Schrupp (which is my name). This is super fun and hilarious because my students are calling my name so much that they accidentally call my teacher my name as well. It makes me feel like I’m doing something right, as my students continue to ask me questions and depend on me whole-heartedly for their learning. 

A verse that has really been on my heart this past week is: Philippians 4:6 "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God."  It is hard not to be anxious, nervous, or stressed-out when you have so many things to do.  But it is ALWAYS important to remember that we need to bring our stressors to the One who can handle them.  We can't go through life on our own.  We need a Savior, and He is holding me up throughout this whole experience.