Tag Archives: teaching

Student Teaching

Mariah Miller wrote an article about her experiences student teaching. Read more below to learn what to expect!

Mariah Miller with her team during Halloween

I never thought I’d be someone who would get excited to be awake at 5:30am. Student teaching has done that for me. Every morning I get up, get ready, and head off to teach 7th grade English Language Arts at Conestoga Valley Middle School. As an English education major, this is the capstone of my entire college career. Everything that I’ve done has led up to this experience. It’s almost surreal to think about, in a sense.

I didn’t always want to be a teacher. I went back and forth between multiple majors for some time. For a semester, I majored in Biology, then switched to undecided, and then went back to English Education. Why did I choose to become a teacher? Mainly, I just want to teach students how to be good people. If I can teach one student how to be a genuinely good person, I’ll know I’ve succeeded. The thing about being an educator is that you are teaching the students so much more than just your subject area entails. You’re there to help them grow not just as as learners, but as productive people in society. Teaching is not an easy job to have, despite what some people think. Here are some of the things I’ve learned so far during my Student Teaching semester:

  1. There is so much more to teaching than you think. You’re constantly thinking, changing plans, and adapting. You have to manage the classroom while simultaneously thinking on your feet. Kids will ask you questions that you did not even think would be on their radar. In order to counteract the everyday spontaneity of being a teacher, over prepare and organize. You can never prepare too many activities, or think of too many ways that students could misunderstand. Put yourself in your students’ shoes. What questions would you have about this activity/assignment if you were this student? Outside of the classroom, keep an agenda and calendar with all of the important assignments/lessons you will have to do. You’ll thank yourself later.
  2. Learning in college classes what teaching is and actually teaching are two entirely different ball games. Of course, the theories and methods are important, but remembering that these are actual individuals with their own unique backgrounds is more important. I can’t stress it enough – get to know your students first and foremost. If you don’t establish rapport with students, it’s almost impossible to get them to want to learn. Your classroom environment is so much stronger when learners know that you care about them and want them to succeed. They’re not afraid to fail when they know you are there to catch them when they do.
  3. You can’t predict what is going to happen on a daily basis. You may have a plan, but that plan may fall flat and you will have to improvise on the spot. Don’t be afraid to try new things, because your mentor will be there to help you! It’s ok for things to not work out because it’s a learning experience. Failure = growth!
  4. Don’t be afraid to reach out for support. If you find yourself struggling, ask for help. You have so many people around who want you to succeed.
  5. It’s not as scary as you probably think it is. Throughout your professional bloc, you will pick up on the ins and outs of your school/classroom (using the printer, taking attendance, organizing student work, grading, disciplining, managing the classroom, etc.). When you start your student teaching semester, your first main focus is integrating yourself back into the classroom. Your mentor won’t just throw you to the sharks without any support. You gradually ease into taking over the classroom.

Lastly, I’ve learned to just have fun and enjoy this valuable time of my developing professional career. It may seem like a semester is a long time, but it flies by when you’re the one teaching. Student teaching has made me more excited than ever to have a classroom of my own one day. I’ve never been so sure of a career in my life. As you take the next step into student teaching, remember these words. I promise they will help to guide you and make student teaching one of the best experiences of your life.

-Mariah Miller

Do you have any advice for student teachers or any experiences other students could benefit from about student teaching? If so, contact Rachel Hicks with your story.

Alumna Profile: Sherri Weaver

Sherri Weaver
Sherri Weaver

Sherri Weaver graduated from Millersville University in 2009 with a Bachelors of Science in Education (BSE) in English. While at Millersville, Sherri took every opportunity to make sure she was getting the kind of education she wanted.  As a BSE student, teaching placements began sophomore year, something Sherri was very thankful for; she now sees the value in getting into the classroom as soon as possible. She first student taught at Lincoln Middle School working with 6th graders. While in her own classroom at Millersville, the classes were theory heavy, so from her schoolwork alone it would be hard to determine if teaching was the right career path; the sophomore placements eased much of that anxiety. Sherri also student taught at Lampeter-Strasburg, working with seniors in AP English and then taught 8th grade at Hand Middle School.

After receiving her undergrad degree, Sherri earned her first teaching job working with AP seniors at a charter school in York. Unfortunately, after Sherri worked there for 5 years, the school lost its charter. This taught Sherri about educational finance and handling of money in a charter; she eventually wrote her master’s thesis on charter school reform. After moving from that school, Sherri worked at Wheatland Middle School for eight months teaching 7th graders before moving to McCaskey East High School where she currently teaches.

To Sherri, the college experience is about getting the education you want. That might mean taking the more challenging classes on purpose and putting in the time and energy to succeed. Sherri found the upper-level college classes imperative to teach any upper level high school classes successfully. Similarly, because Sherri knew where she wanted to teach, in an urban environment, she fought for the placements and jobs that would fit her ideal working environment. That meant changing placements when she was assigned to non-urban areas and working with the university to make her plans possible.

One thing Sherri knows from being a student teacher herself and working with Professional Development Schools (PDS) and new student teachers is that it is important to have self-awareness and the ability to reflect on the people you will be working with. It’s okay to be picky to get the best experience out of student teaching.

Alumna Profile: Nina Theofiles

Nina Theofiles
Nina Theofiles

I graduated in 2010 from Millersville University with my Bachelors of Science in English Education. While at Millersville, I was the News, Opinion, and Lifestyle editor for The Snapper. I switched majors my freshman year from Special Education to English Education after taking a Comparative Literature class with Dr. Carballo. After reading and discussing “Othello,” by William Shakespeare, I realized my love of English could not be contained and that teaching English was my true calling. Growing up, I was extremely dyslexic and struggled with reading during my elementary school days. After finding a love of writing in high school, I fostered my love of reading during my undergraduate program at Millersville.

Following graduation, I went on to be an English Teacher at Crispus Attucks YouthBuild Charter School in York City, PA for three years; I taught grades 10-12. I worked my way up to Department Head and helped students gain college scholarships and be ready for a career or continuing education. This experience helped me with my Masters of Education in English and Communications where my thesis focused on Narrative Writing and Urban Education; I graduated with this in the winter of 2014 from the University of Pittsburgh. While at CAYBCS, I presented at the Pennsylvania Council of Teachers of English and Language Arts Conference in 2010 with my Millersville professor, Dr. Timothy Shea. Also while at CAYBCS, my previous Millersville professor Dr. Aaron Porter came to present to my students. Millersville stayed with me wherever I went, and I promoted the school as much as I could because of the connections and experiences I had there. While at CAYBCS, I also held a position facilitating an after school/drug and alcohol prevention program through the Children’s Home of York called the Strengthening Families Program. I did this for 6 years and was a lead youth facilitator by the end of my term – I assisted my supervisor in training new staff and running new programs around York County.

Nina TheofilesI purchased my first home in 2014 and moved to the southern end of the state. During this move, I got a position teaching English and coordinating the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program in Baltimore County. I am in my fifth year at St. James Academy, and I enjoy teaching at this Episcopal Parish day school; I teach 7th and 8th grade English and I am a 6th-grade homeroom advisor. I am also approaching my fifth summer working at Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth. I am a Senior Administrator here and have worked at residential sites in Haverford, PA, and Baltimore, MD, during the summer. I assist in running the sites, training staff, and overseeing summer classes. Most importantly, I use my English degree when reading 250+ student evaluations and editing them for content, spelling, etc. After I graduated from Millersville I began running a small, private tutoring operation assisting students in grades K-12 in reading, writing, math and SAT prep. Since before my time at Millersville and still today, I enjoy riding horses, reading, and exercising.

None of the experiences I have had in the eight years following my graduation from Millersville would have been possible without my degree in English. The English department challenged and pushed me to be a more critical thinker and learner; this helps me with students and helps me with staff. It also has made me more persistent and resilient; from the times I had the ever-challenging Shakespeare class to the experiences I had in linguistics, each class taught me something new while pushing me to the next level of inquiry. I teach my students the items I learned the best with the same passion my professors at Millersville taught them to me. My time with The Snapper makes creating my own newsletters in 7th grade English a fun goal for the students and an enjoyable experience for them to be involved in as a group.