Seventeen years ago at this time, I was a student teacher in a first grade classroom. Seventeen years. Where has the time gone? There’s no way that it’s been seventeen years since I walked into that first grade classroom, ready to test my wings. I cannot believe that the precious first graders in that class are now in their early twenties.
I started thinking about my time as a student teacher because we currently have two student teachers in my school. I had a great student teaching experience with a wonderful cooperating teacher and a sweet group of kids. My cooperating teacher was actually my second grade teacher and I’ll admit that at first, it was strange walking into that school as a teacher. From kindergarten through fifth grade, I attended that school and many of the same teachers were still there. For the longest time, I couldn’t call them by their first name, no matter how often they told me that it was okay. It just didn’t seem right.
One memory that sticks out in my mind involves the school talent show. My cooperating teacher was an amazing woman and teacher. One of her favorite things to do was to have a time each day where the kids got out of their seats and danced. She taught them dances like the Macarena, the electric slide, and the Chicken dance. It was routine to stop and push the desks out of the way and just dance. The year that I did my student teaching in her classroom, my cooperating teacher decided to enter the class in the school talent show.
There was one problem, though. I am not a dancer. I am uncoordinated and klutzy. I am also a quiet introvert. I don’t get on stage and dance and the thought of doing so filled me with horror. It was one thing to dance in front of twenty first graders, but it was something completely different to dance in front of the whole school. However, I knew that this was something that I had to do. I couldn’t skip being up on the stage with them.
The day of the talent show, not only did I have to contend with dancing in front of an audience, but I was so incredibly sick. I think I had a fever well over 100 degrees, I was hot one minute and cold the next, and I ached all over. But I made it up on that stage and we did our dance and it was cute (because of the kids and my cooperating teacher, not because of me). Somewhere, I have the dance on videotape, although I haven’t watched it in years. But I did something that I never would have even considered doing had it not been for those kids and that teacher.
I know that the two student teachers at my school are building memories like this. One day, they’ll look back at this time and they’ll remember all of the things that made their time student teaching special and they’ll realize that was just the beginning.