That Should Teach Them A Lesson

| Learning | May 3, 2013

(I am a student teacher in a sixth grade classroom. My host teacher, while outwardly very nice, has been unable to give me proper guidance that will allow me to pass the course and become a certified teacher. After talking it over with an official from my college, I decide that the best course of action is to leave the placement and start over somewhere else. My host teacher is unhappy to hear this news and insists that I stay longer. Unfortunately, I get the feeling that she wants me to stay for her benefit and not for mine. After telling her of my final decision to leave, the following exchange occurs.)

Host Teacher: “So you’re leaving for sure?”

Me: “Yes. Monday will be my last day.”

Host Teacher: “Alright. Well, do you think you can tell me what to look for in future student teaching candidates so I know what kinds of red flags to look for before taking in a student teacher for next time?”

Me: *taken aback* “No, I really couldn’t say.”

Host Teacher: “Well, when you leave on Monday, before you go I want you to tell the class exactly why you’re leaving: that you’ve been having trouble adjusting to becoming a teacher at this level, and I want you to ask the students for ‘feedback’ as to how you can do better for next time. Because honestly, your teaching has caused some laughter amongst the students, and I’ve had to intervene with them more than once.”

(A coworker of hers, who has been privy to the conversation, decides to interject.)

Co-Worker: “You know, not everyone is cut out to be a teacher. I’ve seen a lot of teachers and I can tell you don’t have what it takes. You should become a parapro instead.”

Me: *stunned* “Thanks. I’ll look into it.”

(I manage to hold back my tears and get out of the school as quickly as possible. Monday rolls around and it comes time for me to say goodbye to the children.)

Me: “I have something very important that I need to say. Today will be my last day as your student teacher. They need me to move to another school. It has been a pleasure getting to know all of you and I wish you all the best.”

(The children are surprised at the news and seem sad to see me go. My teacher is shocked that I did not scorn myself in front of them, and proceeds to verbally berate me after the class lets out to go to art, music, and gym.)

Host Teacher: “I can’t believe you did this! You didn’t do like we talked about at all! How dare you blame the college for your behavior! You need to take ownership for your mistakes! These children are my life and I am going to clean up the mess you made after they come back! YOU NEED TO TAKE OWNERSHIP!”

(She then writes a nasty email to the head of the university about how I need to think of the children and that I need to put their needs before mine. Fortunately, after hearing my side of the story, the head of the department agrees that facing 28 sixth graders and asking them to critique my teaching style would have been difficult, and places me in another school. Six months later, I am now in a kindergarten classroom with a teacher I love, children I adore and am about to graduate with a degree in elementary education, with honors. Not cut out to be a teacher, indeed.)

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