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Making Learning Even Harder

, , , , , | Learning | August 26, 2021

When I started student teaching, I had this site supervisor from the district who would frequently come in to observe and give feedback to student teachers from the school. She had a philosophy that if she told someone that they were doing a good job when they were not, it was not helpful. I completely agree that giving constructive feedback is crucial, but the supervisor took it to the extreme. Here are a few examples.

My students were doing a round-robin share among their tables.

Supervisor: “[My Name], you need to walk around with a purpose and ask these students questions during their share time. Engage with them; you are not doing it enough.”

During the next share time, I asked a table some questions to guide the conversation.

Supervisor: “Now you’re engaging with them too much.”

Another time, I was pulling a small group and needed the students to listen quietly to me for a minute so I could give directions. I told the students, “Shhh,” but I did not do so in a harsh tone at all, and that was a way my mentor teacher frequently got the students quiet.

After the group, my supervisor approached.

Supervisor: “You can’t say, ‘Shhh,’ to students. That’s very rude.”

And my absolute favorite incident happened during an individual meeting with the supervisor over lunch.

Supervisor: “You have to get over your anxiety and be more confident. Why aren’t you being more confident?”

Me: “I feel like I’m not doing a good job.”

Supervisor: “I’ll be honest; you’re not.”

She gave no explanation as to why she said what she did. No “You’re learning, so there is room to improve” or anything like that. I don’t remember the rest of the conversation, as I was furious at this point. However, she was yelling at me for my anxiety disorder and for struggling in the classroom.

In the end, among other reasons, I decided to withdraw from student teaching for that year. I completed it at a different district the following year, where the people giving me feedback were more constructive and weren’t constantly yelling at me. I ended up doing extremely well and received excellent recommendations from my university supervisor and mentor teacher.

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