Don’t Be Afraid to Change: Advice from a Teacher Intern


This post is part of a series on #summerPD.

For the final interview in this series of “Advice from Teacher Interns,” I interview Mariah Busch, who will start her new career teaching high school this fall.


What was the best thing about student teaching?

The best thing about student teaching was finally interacting with students and building REAL relationships with them, the faculty, and myself as a professional.
What was the most challenging thing?
 The most challenging thing was decided where to start and what to teach. Student-teaching is much more than merely walking into the classroom and teaching pre-determined material. I was given free reign with material. This meant that for the first few weeks I struggled with determining what to teach, how to teach it, the duration of the material, and how to assess students. It was a challenge but I feel so much more prepared than if I would have simply “taken over” provided lesson plans.
What surprised you least about student teaching?
 What surprised me least was the complete exhaustion I felt during the student teaching process. I went into student teaching knowing that my schedule was going to drastically change; no more sleeping in,  no more afternoon cat naps, and no late nights. I’m thankful I didn’t underestimate this change because I know I wouldn’t have kept my sanity if I didn’t mentally prepare myself. Honestly, as the weeks passed, my exhaustion lessened, and now that I have so much free time….I’m practically going insane. GET ME BACK IN THE CLASSROOM!
What surprised you most?
What surprised me most was how receptive the students were to a new teaching “crashing” their room and taking over. For the most part, all of my students were welcoming and demonstrated positive behavior throughout the transition. I was also surprised with how much love I felt for these kids I had only been with for 8 weeks. When I left the High School, I had to choke back every tear possible until I got into my car. The relationships I built during each 8 weeks were ones that will remain with me for a lifetime; they also reinforced as to why I love to teach.
What do you wish you had known about yourself, your students, your content, or teaching in general before you started?
Before I started student teaching I wish I would’ve known that I could’ve applied for a temporary substitute certificate. There were many occasions when my cooperating teachers were absent and a substitute will fill the room with their presence while I taught. I found this frustrating because two of the substitutes wanted to play “friends” with students rather than be a professional; basically they were paid distractions. I would have much rather had my license, taught the students as usual, and received a small check to help alleviate the “BROKE-NESS” you experience during student teaching.
If you could get pre-service English teachers to read just one book, blog, or article before they start teaching, what would it be?
“You Gotta BE the Book” byJeffrey D. Wilhelm
“The Book Whisperer” by Donalyn Miller
What piece of advice would you give to student teachers?
My piece of advice to student teachers is to remember why you chose this profession. The next 16 weeks are going to test your patience, your ability to communicate, and how quickly you adapt.  In the classroom, you need to have a pre-determined classroom management style. If your students aren’t responding to you or to the material, change it-simple as that. As a student teacher, understand that you have an advantage in relating to your students-use it-relate anything and everything to their daily lives. Also, understand that you are going to be tired, very tired, but you will survive (coffee helps). Outside of the classroom, I would suggest you build as many relationships as possible with the staff and faculty. The relationships I created kept me afloat during my experience, they also helped me nail the job I wanted. Finally, don’t be afraid to make mistakes, to ask for help, and to take advice when it’s given.
What do you wish cooperating teachers would know, understand, or do?
I had great cooperating teachers. What I wish they knew, is that I was looking for guidance, I wanted to jump up in front of the classroom and teach but I knew I needed some prepping first. We are basically “adult” students who need to be introduced to material, guided along in the process, and then dropped into the deep end.


One response to “Don’t Be Afraid to Change: Advice from a Teacher Intern”

  1. […] interview with Kelsey Empfield about her student teaching […]

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