From the Perspective of Chicago Semester Student Teachers

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

End of Semester Thoughts #2

by Carole's Group

Hannah, Carole, Colleen, Jennifer, Steven, and Laura
Steven Ansilio – Hope College
Student Taught at Byrne Elementary

Chicago Semester is a great opportunity to see real life beyond the area around your school.  I went to Hope and it was just a middle-sized city.  There are wonderful opportunities in the area, but it was just not for me.  It felt a lot like a little bubble.  Chicago provides countless opportunities to discover more about yourself and what you ultimately want.  I enjoyed traveling around the city, being in a more culturally diverse setting, and being able to do so many different activities.  I learned that I want to be in an urban setting and be a special education teacher.  Chicago Semester really helped me identify what I really want in my future career.  It helped me figure out exactly what I am looking for.
Laura Redebaugh - Hope College
Student Taught at Peterson Elementary

I would absolutely recommend student teaching at the Chicago Semester. What I loved most about the Chicago Semester experience was straying away from the norm of staying in the small town of Holland, MI. I was able to live in a beautiful, exciting city while teaching in an incredibly diverse classroom. This opportunity has made me grow both as an educator and as an individual in ways that I would not have if I had not come to Chicago. Facing the challenges of a Chicago Public School classroom has made me confident that I can handle any classroom. The joy of being with my students far outweighed any challenges that I faced. I am so incredibly thankful that I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and challenged myself to take advantage of this opportunity.

Hannah Laps – University of Mount Union
Student Taught at Mitchell Elementary

If you want to be challenged as a teacher, as a person, and improve yourself on a whole another level you didn’t think existed, apply. I have cried, laughed, and I’ve learned the importance of my future and grew passionate for my career in teaching. Being in the city is incredible, all the possibilities and experiences you could imagine. The unforgettable people, amazing food, outstanding schools, and beautiful environment remain in my heart. This experience will be unforgettable and challenged me in more ways possible. I have learned that I can overcome anything that comes my way. I have learned to stay positive when things don’t go as planned and to grow from the experiences that were not easy. I have benefitted greatly from this experience and now cannot wait until I have my own classroom! This experience has made me a better person and teacher.
Jennifer Muisenga - Hope College
Student Taught at Whitney Young Magnet H.S. & Franklin Fine Arts Center

Teaching in Chicago Public Schools really prepared me to have my own classroom in the near future. I learned things that you don’t learn sitting in lectures at college or from short placements. You are immediately able to jump in and start doing what you love. What I loved most was having cooperating teachers who invited me to help them with whatever. I learned a lot about the “behind the scenes” of being a dance teacher and that just made me more prepared to direct my own dance program. Student teaching is a time to fill your file box up with as many strategies and ideas as possible and I definitely think my file box is pretty full now. My biggest advice is to not be shy or timid coming in. Take initiative right away and offer to help with things. You want to make the most of your semester and your teacher wants to see that you are motivated to be the best teacher possible. It may be stressful at times, but it will just better prepare you for your first year of teaching.

Colleen Getz – Hope College
Student Taught at Peirce Elementary

The thing I enjoyed most about student teaching in the city was the diversity. Each part of the city is different and unique. I thoroughly enjoyed the ability to explore and get to know each different area. There are so many different characters in the city as well. I always felt like I was in the middle of the action and there was never a dull moment! Also, it was wonderful to live with fellow student teachers because we had the same schedule and we were able to bounce teaching ideas off of one another. Chicago semester helped me to realize that I am interested in working in a fast-pace environment, similar to this one.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

End of Semester Thoughts #1

by Lisa's Small Group

Lisa, Evan, Alex, Erik, and Kristin

Erik Grunder – Central College
Student Taught at Kelly High School

The thing that I enjoyed most about this semester was simply being in Chicago. Coming from a small town - what a shock. However, after a couple of weeks I was not only comfortable getting around the city, but I felt like I was part of it. I also enjoyed the people that I met while I was here. I was lucky enough to have great people at my school, which simply added to the great experience I was already having. I think student teaching here and having success only added to my level of confidence when I think about teaching anywhere else. If I can handle this situation and these students, I can handle just about anything. What a great resume builder and finish to my teaching education then to do it in a fun, challenging and new environment.  Talk about the epitome of teaching!  Continuing to learn, adapt, revise, and rethink the way that you teach to reach these students was so much more refreshing than teaching in small town Pleasantville where the students will do what you say when you ask. This is generalizing but you get the idea.

Kristin Trease – Northwestern College
Student Taught at Kelvyn Park High School

Being able to come from a small college campus to teach in a high school with  roughly the same size student population is an experience that truly is one of a kind. The semester I had teaching in Chicago has changed the way I look at education—when students in your classroom are more concerned about walking home after school safely than learning reading strategies, your teaching becomes so much more student centered. This kind of thinking, as well as a new look at classroom management, collaboration within a department, differentiation, and so much more, has made me grow into the kind of teaching I want to be. The kind of teacher that would have taken so much longer to become in a small, rural school system. It has shown me that an urban classroom is where I belong and that I have something to give to these students, even if it is something as simple as a smile and encouraging word.

Alex DiPietro – University of Mount Union
Student Taught at Kenwood Academy

Teaching out here in Chicago has been a life changing opportunity. I have never lived in community that had more than 20,000 people. Coming from that to a city of 3 million people, all from different cultures and backgrounds, was an amazing experience. I not only learned a lot about urban life and the many different cultures of Chicago, but I learned a lot about myself along the way and proved to myself that I could live in a big city pretty much on my own.

The most enjoyable thing that I got from my Chicago Semester experience was definitely the relationships I formed with so many different people. I grew to truly love and care for my students and I was so sad when my time teaching them was up. I really appreciated the help I got from not only my cooperating teachers, but the other teachers in my department at Kenwood who gave me great advice along the way. Dr. Hensey was a great supervisor who truly devoted so much time into helping all of us teachers out during this great,(but very stressful at times) experience. Lastly I greatly enjoyed the time I spent and the relationships I formed with my fellow student teachers at Chicago Semester. We all come from different schools and backgrounds, but it seems like we became one family in our three months here. I never thought that I could grow so emotionally attached all these people, but this experience proved me wrong.

I feel like this experience showed me that I can be a successful teacher. There are obviously going to be bumps in the road, and good days or bad days at the job, but this experience showed me that I can fight through the days that do not go so well. It has taught me to be reflective and always think about how I can be better, and I will take what I learned from this student teaching experience and apply it not only to my future teaching job, but life in general.

Overall I wouldn’t trade the experience I had in Chicago for anything. I got to teach some of the brightest young minds I have ever met. I formed bonds with some great teachers and future teachers that I will remember forever. I got to live in the greatest city in America for 3+ months. I got to see my Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team blowout Miami in Soldier Field and I got to see Bruce Springsteen rock Wrigley Field. How many student teachers can say they did all of this for their experience? I am truly blessed to have this opportunity and I want to thank everyone who made an impact on me this semester and made me a better teacher and person.
Evan James – Carroll University
Student Taught at Kelvyn Park High School
Student teaching at Chicago Semester is a great opportunity in your professional development because you work in a culturally diverse classroom, school, and community. You will not only learn about the variety of backgrounds your students come from, but also who you are as a person and who you want to be as a professional educator. Personally, I experienced students coming to learn and succeed in the learning environment they are a part of, and it is the job of their teacher to create an environment where they feel welcomed, confident and respected to succeed in the classroom, community, and in life.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Student Teaching - End of Semester

by Kristin Trease - Kelvyn Park High School
Life in the City
As the weather has gotten colder, my activities outside of school have lessened. I become a sort of shut in when it’s cold out and the sky is dark at five. It doesn’t help that I’ve been swamped by a recent attack of grading and homework to do. I’ve also come down with a little bit of a bug that makes me want to do nothing but watch movies and sleep when I get home from school every day. Does not help productivity.
Now that Thanksgiving is over, I am officially okay with Christmas music and decorations that have been sneaking into the city since before Halloween. Besides watching the Macy’s Day Parade all the way through for the first time in my life (this is what happens when I can’t afford to go home for Thanksgiving), I have found other small ways to get into the holiday spirit. Last week I got to go see Charles Dicken’s “A Christmas Carol” performed at the Goodman Theatre. It was so good. If I stay in Chicago, it is going to become my new holiday tradition. Or maybe it will be my holiday tradition anyway; the show is mounted everywhere during the Christmas season. However, I’m not sure many theatres can beat the Goodman.
Life in the Classroom
Goodbye Kelvyn Park
I have begun to step down from teaching. This coming week will be my last, and I will be teaching two classes Monday and none by Thursday. It’s been hard letting go so far, for both me and the students. They will see me in the hall and ask why I wasn’t in their class period. One girl ran and hug attacked me. Makes me feel very, very loved. I have a feeling Friday is going to be the hardest day of the semester.
This will officially be my last blog post for Chicago Semester. What an adventure the past few months have been. I have learned so much, not only about teaching, but about myself. I have made some really amazing friends, been touched by some really fantastic students, and laughed so much. There is no way I could capture this semester in one paragraph, so I’m going to stop trying. It has been life changing. It has been eye opening.  It has been blessed.