1. What, do you think, are the main purposes of (reasons for) field experience (i.e. pre-internship practicum, internship, etc.)?
I see the field experiences as a necessity for the education program. There is such a vast difference between theory and practice when it comes to education and without the experience of going into the classroom, I think many teachers would quit their first year of teaching, wasting a lot of money on a career they don’t even like. I know that when I first entered the program I started to question whether or not teaching was the right career for me, but as soon as I set foot in an actual classroom and started interacting with the students, I knew I had made the right decision. Another main focus of the field experience I think is getting to know yourself as an educator, rather than a student. I know that from my own experience, teaching at the university in my classes changes from who I am when I am teaching in the classroom. I find myself to be very cautious of what I am saying when I am teaching high school students as compared to when I am teaching my fellow classmates. I also notice that I can take control of a classroom if I need to, rather than quietly telling the students to focus— this was something I thought I’d be terrible at. Without having the field experience apart of my experience in becoming a teacher, I don’t think I would have made it this far because I wouldn’t have been able to witness first hand that I can be a good teacher and I want to do everything I can to be a great teacher!
2. What role does (or, should) a university teacher education program play in the process of becoming a teacher?
When I first entered the program I expected it to be a lot different. I thought I was going to be taught how to teach. I expected to make piles of lesson and unit plans, learn how to teach mathematics inside and out, and interact with students. Though some of my expectations have been met, I still feel as though the program could have helped me in other areas more. For example, I think the program should have put a stronger emphasis on how to teach in each persons subject area. I feel as though I still feel unprepared in how to teach the mathematics curriculum. It would have been nice to have a course that refreshed new teachers memories in their specialty areas. Right now I am feeling as if I do not know how to even do some of the mathematics because it has been 3 years or more since I have taken a high school mathematics course. I think if there would have been at least one class where you learned what you would be teaching rather than left to figure it out on your own, I’d feel more prepared.
3. What do you already know now about being a mathematics teacher that is unlikely to change through your upcoming field experiences (i.e. fundamental beliefs, values, commitments, etc.)?
As I enter the classroom for my three week block I know that I have to keep in the back of mind that I was once where these students were. I was questioning the relevance of mathematics (though I still enjoyed it) and wondering where I would use it. I know that my students will be thinking similar things, so I know that it is my job as a teacher to make mathematics connected to their daily lives— that won’t change after my experience. Another thing that I know won’t change once I am finished my pre-internship is the fact that not all students learn the same way I did, or even learn similar to their classmates. I will constantly have to adapt and come up with solutions so that all my students understand my lessons, rather than just a select few. Even though I know these things won’t change after my experience, I am looking forward to the changes that I will see, both in myself as a teacher and in the way I choose to teach.