Education Majors: What to Know Before Student Teaching
For education majors, the final semester of senior year can be daunting. Every Spring, they take on student teaching, which requires them to attend an elementary, middle, or high school for the entire semester, working with the instructor. The on-campus requirement for this class is the “student teaching seminar,” which meets once a week in the evening. This semester includes creating lesson plans, teaching, reflecting, and creating the EdTPA. The EdTPA is an undisclosed licensure assessment that professors reveal to students once they begin student teaching. How are these seniors coping with the heavy stress this course entails? Current senior Lillian Lindberg has weighed in on her own experience.
She has attended NCU four years and chose to go into teaching because she has “always wanted to be a teacher.” Teaching has been her passion since she was in second grade, she got to see behind the curtain of a good intentioned teacher which thoroughly inspired her to follow in their footsteps. Lindberg recalls seeing the “hours and intention and thought and love go into that job,” which she wants to share with her own students. Her main encouragement to follow education was the thought of, “How awesome would it be to be a teacher and teach stories just like Jesus did?”
Lindberg is teaching seventh and eighth grade at Maranatha Christian Academy (MCA) in Brooklyn Park. Lindberg stated that her experience has been challenging, similar to a pressure cooker, difficult, but most importantly refining. Similar to how Malachi 3:2 explains, she says that student teaching is being “refined through fire,” much like the process of refining silver or gold. Each day is a new learning experience that can quickly wear down a teacher, but each day also brings more skill and knowledge about the craft.
Her experience within the major is relatively unique since she could not join the school of education until her junior year. All of her content-specific courses were crammed into three semesters just before taking on student teaching, which made her feel, “How did I get here?” Lindberg reports that she did not feel prepared for student teaching, especially since the education professors purposefully do not tell the students much about the EdTPA. Everyone around her was telling her that she had been taught and prepared for this, but she simply thought, “I need to have faith that I am ready.”
The thing she has found most encouraging is her students. Sometimes she has a bad day or is really tired, but her students come alongside her. “Just seeing their smiles and successes in what I’ve planned and taught has been really encouraging.”
Other times, she has to remind them that she’s in charge. One time that she recalls, she was met with a sassy chorus of “That’s not how Mr. Harrison does it.” Lindberg simply responded with, “Do I look like Mr. Harrison? Do I sound like Mr. Harrison? I’m not Mr. Harrison. He’s not your teacher right now, I am.” It is never possible to make everyone like the teacher, but it is important that the students at least respect her.
Looking back on the semester, Lindberg regrets not making habits. She says that, “specifically for me I wish I had built and maintained discipline in spending time with the Lord every day… I know that my identity would be more firm in ‘it’s not what you do or how you do it it’s how I [God] see you.’” One thing that she says would really help the incoming seniors is to read the student handbook.