In Professor Barbara Elvecrog‘s Teaching in the Secondary School at Hamline University, students have been assigned to plan their first week of class in a 5-12 setting. The exercise aims to assess the teaching students’ knowledge of tasks such as building community among the class and strategies for getting to know students. It also measures how effective the aspiring teachers will be at developing class procedures and starting to incorporate content from day one.
While Prof. Elvecrog allowed the university students pick their ideal classrooms, many have a practical approach to what those classes will look like, especially in the next year or two. Many of these teaching students are already paraprofessionals or volunteer in schools, many want to teach in an urban setting, and they’re under no false impressions about what to expect.
Most of the future teachers anticipated having at least 30-35 students in a class, having several English Language Learners and students with learning disabilities, plus little help from support staff because of budget cutbacks. The teaching students who anticipated these issues also seemed most excited to tackle them. They felt Hamline provided the tools necessary to start the job well.
For them, it’s insulting when critics of public education blame teachers for failing schools or poor test scores. These teachers are heading into a tough profession with the right attitude. Hopefully, Minnesota policymakers provide them with the support they need to stay positive and serve our children well.
I know there are a lot of teachers reading Hindsight. What’s your advice for surviving the first week of school?