From the Perspective of Chicago Semester Student Teachers

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

End of Semester Thoughts #2

Megan, Sarah, Lauren, Daniel, Alayna, Paige, and Carole

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
Sarah Boyer – Judson University
Student taught at Peterson Elementary
I enjoyed the people the most during my student teaching experience.  I met twenty or more new people and I have made lasting friendships with them. This program shows you people you may have never met, and that is great to see a new perspective in the world, yourself, and your teaching.
Additionally, I would add that on top of having great staff at Chicago Semester, great staff at your Chicago Public School, you are surrounded by the greatest city!  Living and teaching in Chicago allows you to have a new experience every day.  You can travel 10 minutes and be in a totally new environment, where the primary language could be very different from your native language. This exposes you to lots of new culture, food, shops, and people.  Chicago Semester has the best of both worlds; great placements in Illinois’ largest school district and living in Chicago which is the greatest city. 
I have learned that this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.  I want to teach in a big city with a lot of diversity.  I have learned so much about acceptance of others and acceptance of myself.  Chicago will always have a place in my heart because it is what exploded the passion inside for helping, inspiring, and teaching others.
 Lauren Hughes – University of Mount Union
Student taught at Farnsworth Elementary
The most enjoyable part about the Chicago Semester experience is living in the city and working with such a diverse group of students. I felt that by working in the city I was able to experience more here than I would have been able to by doing my student teaching back in Ohio. I truly enjoyed my teachers and teaching experience at Farnsworth, I have had two great cooperating teachers and lots of great students.
Another enjoyable aspect of the Chicago Semester experience was the city itself. I have had a blast exploring the city and seeing all that it has to offer. If you sign up for this experience you owe it to yourself to make sure you spend time getting out on the weekends and going to the different neighborhoods.
While being in Chicago, I learned more about myself than I expected to. I learned more about my own teaching style and how I handle different situations that may arise while teaching, along with how I handle being on my own in a city. I learned that I was able to find my way around the city and use the CTA without a problem, which was a big concern of mine before coming here. I learned a lot about myself by being here without my family and main support system. I learned about how I can be extremely independent, which was good for me to grow as a person and as a professional.
I had an amazing Chicago Semester experience and would encourage anyone who is thinking about taking this opportunity to do it because it was the best semester of college for me.
Paige Myers - Central College                                           
Student taught at O.A. Thorp Scholastic Academy
I truly enjoyed my experience here at Chicago Semester. I loved being in a big city with all the entertainment you could want at your fingertips. Weekends were a great time to explore the city and hang out with the other students in the program. Now that it is close to the end of the semester, I have a feeling of great accomplishment. Student teaching is hard no matter where you are. Chicago Semester added to that for me because this is the first time I have been this far, for this long from my family and friends. There are other contributing factors like the commute that make it harder than other placements. The commute for me was close to an hour and fifteen minutes each way. That wears you down. The class sizes are bigger and the resources are limited. Knowing that I can teach under these circumstances makes me feel like I can take on any job thrown at me. I would say do it for your personal growth and to have that feeling of accomplishment at the end of the semester!
Alayna Mucci – University of Mount Union
Student taught at Jamieson Elementary
Chicago Semester is a wonderfully diverse and challenging experience. I have learned so much about the profession of teaching, the city of Chicago, and most of all myself. Through my student teaching placement I have learned how to best accommodate diverse students and their families. I have also learned what I would like my classroom t environment to be and the role I can play in students’ lives. I have also learned that the city is where I meant to be and that is here in the fabulous city of Chicago. Student teaching through Chicago Semester has been one of the greatest learning experiences of my life.  Challenging? Of course, but worth it? Absolutely.
 Megan Rensink – Central College
Student taught at O.A. Thorp Scholastic Academy
In this fourth grade placement, I was very fortunate to be working with the teacher I was given. With my first placement not working out right away, she was able to take me in and gave me the exact encouragement that I needed to see that this is what I really am supposed to do with my life and I shouldn’t let anyone discourage me. Your cooperating teacher is the person you spend most of your time with each day and my experience was that much more wholesome because of our relationship.
In more ways than one, I have learned that I prefer working in an elementary school placed in a small-town setting rather than the big city like Chicago. I feel like since that is just what I have always known, that is where my heart is and that is what I’ll always love. Student-teaching in Chicago has been a huge learning experience, but I feel that I have seen the great benefits of teaching in a small public school and that is where I’ll always prefer to teach.
 Daniel Schreiber – Judson University
Student taught at Peterson Elementary
While the Chicago Semester program provided a great number of positive experiences over the semester, the experience I enjoyed the most was the opportunity to teach an incredibly diverse student population in an urban setting.  This experience was quite different from the previous practicum experiences I had in suburban Chicago schools, which did not have anywhere near the diversity at the school I was placed at by Chicago Semester.  As a K-12 physical education teacher, I debated which grades I enjoy teaching the most before I entered my student teaching placement.  Through this experience, I learned that I truly enjoy working with Elementary students.  While I enjoy teaching middle and high school students, I discovered that I work especially well with younger students.  Since I plan to teach in an international school after graduation, Chicago Semester's placement in a diverse school was a perfect fit to help me in my pursuit towards an international teaching career.