Three BIG questions about field experience and the role of teacher education:
1. What do you think is the purpose of field experience (i.e. pre-internship practicum, internship, etc.)?
I feel that field experiences serve many purposes that are all important. The first is that the field experience allows us a chance to take what we have learned in our classes and actually apply that information into the classroom. Throughout the past three years, there has been a tremendous amount of information that we, as teachers, need to know. We can memorize and try to understand this material as much as we can but the best way for us to actually learn and understand this material is by experiencing it in the classroom and putting it into practice. I can say that this is true for a fact because I’ve been through this. One specific example was ECS 200 and 210. There was a lot of information that, sure I thought was important, but I didn’t fully grasp the idea of what this might look like and how it would affect my teaching. It wasn’t until ECS 300 when I got to teach is where I saw a lot of this information coming back to me and finally being able to see how it impacts the classroom and teacher.
The second purpose is that it’s a chance for us to practice teaching and work towards becoming the teacher that we imagine ourselves to be. Also, it gives us a chance to try new things (ex. teaching styles/methods, classroom management, etc.), see what works and what doesn’t, and make mistakes while we still can and have someone to help us out if things get rough.
Another purpose includes being able to observe others and expand our ideas of and knowledge about teaching. Sometimes, you don’t get to experience a wide variety of classrooms and teaching styles, especially for those in small schools. Thus, being able to experience different classrooms and different teachers expands our knowledge of more current teaching practices and the different methods and practices that occur that differ from our own schooling experiences.
Being able to increase PLN (personal learning network) and get our names out in the schools is another purpose of field experiences. Being in a school, there are many teachers and staff that you can become acquainted with and add to your PLN. PLN’s are very important as the people in this group share information with one another and help each other out if needed. Also, getting your name out and around to different teachers and administrators can increase your chances of getting a job. Listening to many stories from interns and new teachers, their field experiences (mainly internship) got their name out to different people and many have been given high recommendations and some even got hired at their internship school immediate after graduation!
Lastly, then field experience allows us to gradually get used to the idea of teaching and makes us aware of some of the things to expect when we begin teaching. Gradually get us used to the idea of teaching is important because that way it doesn’t feel like we are being thrown into teaching and become overwhelmed. Being aware of what to expect and have few surprises will help increase the likeliness that we actually become great teachers and that teaching is something that we make a career of. Statistics say that the first 5 years of teaching is the most difficult and this is when many teachers quit their jobs and move on to other professions. A huge factor of this loss is because of the stress and complications that teachers had not foreseen and then become greatly overwhelmed and stressed. Field experiences allows us to practice, observe, and become aware of and prepare for some of the complications, stress, and any other troubles that they may face in the future.
2. What roles does (or should) a teacher education program play in the process of becoming a teacher?
Just like the field experience, the teacher education program provides us with the opportunity to prepare for and work towards becoming the teacher that we want to be. It also provides us with the information that will help us succeed as teachers, to be the best we can be for our students, information about students and their learning so that we can prepare to educate our students and help them to maximize their chances of success in school, and in life.
The teacher education program also allows us the opportunity to put this information to the test by applying it to actual teaching experiences. Through these experiences, we are also provided with the opportunity build our own teaching philosophies and theories, to put these into context, and make changes and amendments to work towards perfecting these philosophies and theories.
Also, the teacher education program challenges our current views of teaching and education. Teaching and education is rapidly evolving and changing; thus, it is important that we constantly challenge our ways of thinking and think of new ways to better ourselves and make our teaching more effective and efficient so that students can maximize their learning experience at school and make it more enjoyable.
3. What do you already know now about being a mathematics teacher that is unlikely to change through your upcoming field experiences (i.e. fundamental beliefs, values, commitments, etc.)?
There are a few things that I can be certain about being a mathematics teacher that is unlikely to change through my upcoming field experiences. This includes:
1. As a mathematics teacher, I need to help my students understand math, rather than memorize it.
2. Rather than just the answer, it is more important to teach and assess the thought process and steps of a solution.
3. As a mathematics teacher, I need to be 100% committed to teaching my students, be there if they need help, and provide them with everything they need to help the succeed.
4. In mathematics, not every lesson has to be inquiry-based. There are many factors that can affect this such as timing and the type of class.