By Samuel Carignan – Contributing Writer
The end of the semester has Education majors rushing to prepare for their student teaching placements that may start as early as this coming January.
The final and largest hurdle of the program, students have a lot to do before they can start student teaching. Despite the challenges, Education majors are eager to take what they have learned at UMF into the classroom.
Excitement and nervousness filled the Student Center in late November as Education majors learned their student teaching placements after months of waiting. These students now must start working on their responsibilities before the placement even starts, including setting up meetings with the mentor, preparing for interviews, and starting their large Contextual Factors Assignment.
Although it is a lot of work, Education majors are ready for the challenge. Senior Elementary Education major Ashley Hinkley recently learned about her placement. “I know that it is going to be hard, but I feel prepared and am ready to start teaching,” said Hinkley.
Student teaching may seem daunting, but it is one of the highlights of the Education program. On top of the benefit of it looking great on a resume when applying for jobs, it also makes UMF students some of the most prepared teachers when they graduate.
Shawna Oliver, a 2017 UMF graduate, is currently teaching fourth grade at Belgrade Central School. Her student teaching placement was in a fifth-grade classroom in the same district. Oliver gave some advice for anyone getting ready for student teaching. “Advocate for yourself,” said Oliver. “If you have wishes, communicate them to your supervisors.”
For many Education majors, student teaching is a way to test what they have learned over their time at UMF. Student teaching can only be done after all methods classes have been finished, so many are eager to take the knowledge they have learned out into the field.
Leah Boucher, a senior Elementary Education major, was excited about her placement in a third-grade classroom. She is one of many students who has been waiting for years for this experience. “UMF has made me feel ready to start student teaching,” said Boucher. “I can’t wait to start this next adventure.”
Much like a capstone, student teaching is the final test of a person’s skill in their field of study. It is a sixteen-credit course, meaning this one class has an entire semester worth of work involved with it.
For any students who are uneasy about student teaching, Oliver has some experienced advice. “As long as you are meant to be a teacher, you will love it,” said Oliver. “The praise that you have heard about the teachers that UMF prepares is true. UMF does prepare its pre-service teachers as best they can.”