By Dr. Sharon Lewis
I thought that I would give you all the lofty reasons from research that show the positive impact of field experiences in teacher preparation programs, since Houston Baptist University has one of the strongest field-based preparation programs. I know this from having been a district administrator who had to make sure all new teachers in the district had the tools they needed to teach the district curriculum.
As I went through several drafts, I decided it is better if you hear from the students who participate in the field-based courses. They say it better that I can. Here are quotes from their field journals.
Student 1: “Wednesday I administered a DRA with a new student to find out what her reading level was. I didn’t get the full grasp on DRA’s when we did them in class, but after doing this one with the teacher’s help, I now have a much better understanding.
Overall, I am really starting to feel more comfortable working with the students in small group and asking them questions. At first I was a bit nervous to make a mistake, but now that I am having more experiences with them, I have become more confident in my teaching.”
Student 2: “Overall, my experience in field has been amazing. I love my placement and I cannot thank God enough for placing me where I am. At the end of last semester I was seriously doubting my decision to become a teacher, and I almost convinced myself that this was not my calling. After these last couple of weeks of teaching, Ms. Wheatley has helped me regain my passion for teaching and I am extremely thankful for that.”
Student 3: “Fieldwork is a learning experience and it is evident that I am learning so much. I am definitely learning from my mistakes and by being in Mrs. Rincon’s classroom, I am learning how to become an effective teacher.
Overall, the week was great. I really like how much hands-on teaching I am able to do. I am feeling more and more comfortable about being a teacher.”
Student 4: “Overall, my week went very well and I can’t wait to go back next week!”
Student 5: “The teacher really wanted her students to learn how important the pre- writing step was and that you can write down anything that comes to mind. She really talked a lot about the same things the video we watched in class talked about.
So far I have seen a lot of things in her classroom that I notice from the videos that we watched in class and from the readings. I love it when I notice something that she is doing from the videos or from the talks we had in your class.”
Student 6: “One of the students I worked with only drew pictures for their kernel essay with a few words. The teacher told me that this is the way that some students begin to get ideas to write an essay, since they are not on the same level as the other students. From doing this activity with this student I learned that students have to go through different steps to get the same result. Some students have to take more steps than others.
I administered a DRA to a student at level 34. I learned that a lot goes into administering a DRA and that it shows a lot about the reading abilities of the student.”
Student 7: “I noticed one thing that I need to work on is dealing with children that are misbehaving in the classroom. Today there was an incident between two boys, and one of them came up to me to tell me about it. I did not know what to say at the time. Fortunately, the teacher was sitting right next to me, and she handled the situation; she knew exactly what to say. I know that she knew how to handle the situation because she has so much experience with these types of situations. I realized that I need to learn how to deal with these types of child behaviors; otherwise, the children are going to do whatever they want. I know that in my future classroom I will always have children that will misbehave. That is why it is extremely necessary for me to know how to handle situations such as this one. A teacher that handles behavior effectively will have the classroom running smoothly.
In my third week of field work, I have also learned that I did not go wrong when choosing to pursue a career in education. It never ceases to amaze me how much I can learn about myself each time I go to field. Teaching is definitely the job for me.”
Student 8: “I did learn a couple of things about myself this week. I realized that I have to be more prepared to re-teach if students still don’t understand the lesson. A couple of my students still had trouble with the author’s perspective and imagery by the time my lesson was over. I can’t expect that all my students will understand by the end, I understand that some might need more time.”
Student 9: “The teacher has a way of reading books in which the students are just eager to hear her read. I have noticed that the teacher uses a great amount of intonation and voice which makes the text come alive. Most people think that reading a story is just reading words off of a page, but it is much more than that.
This week I have managed to complete the interactive read aloud assignment. I think that watching the teacher do this on a daily basis has really helped me improve. This time, I was not as nervous as I was in the beginning of my field experience. I had already done a read aloud assignment for fun; that is why I was already familiar with the process. On this interactive read aloud I introduced the students to a non-fiction text. The students were actively participating in the reading, and I overall I think it went great.”
Student 10: “It’s amazing to watch the teacher have a reading group and at the same time be aware of what the other students are doing; teachers really do have eyes in the back of their heads.”
Student 11: “This week I learned a lot about myself. I have realized that I’m at a point where I am confident in my success as a future teacher. I used to feel a bit nervous due to the immense responsibilities I knew I would have once I became a teacher. However, now I feel like I have all the ability to help ALL my students succeed. This week I definitely saw myself step up and become the teacher I want to be. I took leadership and kept the classroom under control, I led guided reading groups, and I taught the students how to write a personal narrative.”
Student 12: “Overall, this week was an eye opener. I really got to see the different levels the students were at on their writing.”
Student 13: “I love working with small groups in the classroom. It allows me to get to know the students better and to see how they are doing academically.
The last day of this week was spent making a new seating chart and re-arranging the desks in the classroom. The teacher showed me why certain arrangements would and wouldn’t work based on the students and how they behave with one another. All in all, this week was a great one!”
Student 14: “What I learned from doing the read aloud, was that you have to read stories in such a way that makes students interested. I made sure to read in a very dramatic way, which fit the story very well since it was about a slave family. I noticed that students were all paying attention and they were all taken aback by the story and the drama
The interview I did with the teacher this week helped me think about how I want to structure writing and reading time for my own future classroom. I agree with her that students should have a lot of exposure to books and writing pieces.”
Student 15: “My favorite part this week has to be the students go to the library. I hadn’t realized how much it has changed since I have been there. The librarian did an interactive reading with the students first and then had them check out books. My favorite part has to be the program that the library has. This program works like a Facebook, only it’s for books. Students sign on and can add friend or have friends add them. Then the students can share the books they have read and post their review on the book. Students can also send book requests to other friends. It is really cool to see students really get into writing reviews and looking at what other friends have read, they really take it seriously.”
Student 17: “I’ve learned this week that effective reading and writing in my future classroom will come from clear expectations and management. With these aspects in combination, my future students will know exactly what I am looking for which will able them to complete tasks with clarity at their best.”
Teachers touch the lives of their students and the future as they prepare students for that future. How excellent it is that these future teachers have had a taste of teaching, reaffirmed their choice to teach, and are excited to move forward in their drive to be the best teachers once they have their own classrooms. This is why field experiences make an impact.