Those of us interested in becoming future educators have a multitude of reasons why we have decided we never want to leave school; many of us truly enjoy being around young people, most of believe we will make a difference in a younger person’s life, and some might even believe they’ll have an entire summer open for leisure time (though you will soon learn this will not be the case). Besides knowing why you want to teach, at some point you will have to start thinking about where you want to teach. Many prospective teachers have an interest in returning to their high school they graduated from, many others want to teach in a wealthy public suburban school or even a private school, all places where you are likely to join a successful system and become successful yourself.
With most teachers striving to teach in predominantly wealthy districts, what does that mean for places that need good teachers the most? I doubt many of us enter college with the ultimate goal of teaching in inner city conditions because we’ve either heard stories or have had an experience that made us uncomfortable. What I want to debunk is the notion that urban schools are generally bad places to teach. I’ve had the lovely opportunity to observe and student teach in a series of unique circumstances in rural Whitehall NY, urban James Monroe, East High, and Northwestern College Prep in the city of Rochester, and Greece Athena in a Rochester suburb.
Nazareth College has a tendency to sending their student teachers to two different six week placements in an urban and suburban school setting. This is highly beneficial for Nazareth students since we get an initial understanding of the numerous differences and similarities between urban and suburban teaching. Two stark differences I noticed nearly immediately when comparing the two school settings was the challenge with dealing with parents in a suburban school and handling classroom management in an urban setting. These may sound qutie scary at first but I devised a few rules that might help relax a student teacher and turn their anxiety into confidence:
- The first rule to student teaching is to approach any school you’ve been assigned to with an open mind; everywhere you teach will have strengths and difficulties.
- If you believe the challenges you will face while student teaching will develop your vital teaching skills for once you land a teaching job, than you can have a greater appreciation for what you are doing.
- You need to always remember that you were once a kid in school too, and when students act up it’s rarely to target the teacher but for the attention of their classmates, so don’t take it personally.
- It’s natural to feel nervous the first time you step in front of a room full of students, the best and fastest way to earn student respect is to act confidently even if you’re not feeling confident, this will have many benefits.
- When you have a day where you feel like a complete failure as a teacher, just remember you can always press the reset button and make tomorrow a new day.
- And most importantly, remember the profession you are entering. You are performing one of the most rewarding jobs on the planet with developing our youth into adults.
Best of luck with wherever your student teaching lands you!