From the Perspective of Chicago Semester Student Teachers

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Student Teaching - Week #12

by Rogelia Pena - Cooper Dual Language Academy

Mrs. V as Frida Kahlo
I am the "Weeping Woman"
I cannot begin to express how blessed I am for working with my cooperating teacher! We have many things in common. She learned English growing up, so she knows about the challenges and rewards of being bilingual and bicultural. She also likes to salsa dance, and she wants to go to Brazil one day (since she’s married to a Brazilian). But most importantly, she is passionate about her students. I have learned many classroom management strategies from her, as well as other lifelong lessons.

Classroom management is not something one can learn through a college course. It comes with practice and by being immersed in the classroom. My cooperating teacher has supported me along the way to refine my time management and classroom management skills. More than preventing and addressing bad behavior, I have learned that classroom management is about staying connected with the students. When this happens, lessons are smooth and students’ learning can be maximized. For example, my teacher taught me how to “read” my students and follow the natural flow of the classroom. One day, students were working on a science experiment and they were so engaged that they were getting louder and louder. I tried different things to quiet them down but nothing was working. I could tell that they just wanted to share their findings, and they could not hold their excitement. My teacher told me that in times like that I should just let them talk with their “elbow partner” about their discoveries. They just need to get it out of their system!

At first, I thought that by doing so I would be yielding to my students’ will. But in reality, I was not losing control… I was just adjusting my decisions based on my students’ needs. Students like options, choices, and to be heard; so why stop natural curiosity? I would say that is one of the most valuable things I have learned from my cooperating teacher.

Humbolt Park neighborhood
Talking about curiosity, I finally tried Puerto Rican food in Humboldt Park, one of Chicago’s Hispanic neighborhoods. Even though I live in Pilsen and I get to enjoy awesome Mexican food, I was longing for something more similar to home (Caribbean food). So, on Veterans Day one of my roommates and I went to a place called La Bomba (The Bomb). Indeed, flavors were explosive! Before that, we also went to the Shedd Aquarium, which was free on that day. I got very excited when I saw a section on the Amazon. It reminded me of Venezuela (I don’t live in the jungle but I have visited it before). There were piranhas, electric eels, and even an anaconda. My students were excited to see the pictures I had taken! Some of them have never been to a museum before, which is a shame since they live in Chicago. Hopefully, I will accompany them to the Museum of Science and Industry in the Spring.