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Student Teaching

My life has been a little hectic as I have moved to Montana and began student teaching. My experience has also been hard to put into words, which is why this blog post has been so delayed. I've just finished my 4th week of student teaching (roughly 1/3 of the way done) and figure it's time to attempt to describe my experience thus far. I am teaching junior high and high school agricultural courses, as well as assisting with the FFA chapter.

Many might wonder why I would want to move to a new state where I knew no one, live in a completely different culture, and enter a school system that is somewhat less than ideal in the terms of academic and student behavior. Very quickly into my degree I was fairly sure that the classroom was not the right fit for me. As I’m looking to prepare for the future, I wanted all of the benefits that come from student teaching and a cultural experience. Since I will not be transitioning what I am learning in managing and planning the classes into my future career, this unique environment is beneficial for me. It’s allowing me to not only learn about a wonderful culture, but how to adapt to other cultures. The teaching setting itself probably would not prepare me to teach in any school in Indiana, things are a lot different here. However, for my specific case this is a good different. I’m building the skills for my future that I would have in a normal school, but additional skills as well. While I may be losing out on some of the aspects my classmates are, like content preparation that would be useful in an Indiana school, this is a good fit for me.

When I first got here I could tell I was in for a new adventure. As I drove down the road to my house, I saw the makeshift dump. When I entered the town it was also very obvious I was an outsider. The school itself has amazing shop facilities, but unfortunately for me animal science, plant science, and agricultural business are my strong suits.

The students have been very challenging. Many have also been extremely welcoming and respectful. It really is a mixed bag. Breaking up fights is a daily occurrence. The hallways often smell like weed, but the cameras either don't work or they don't try to find the culprits, and attendance for many students is spotty at best. Like I said earlier it is a mixed bag though, many of the students are eager to learn, extremely bright, and very well behaved. Most of the students love working in the shop and tend to get cranky if they have to do classwork.

The students are really engaged in FFA. Several students practice at least once a day, and they all want to know how to get better. Getting to go to competitions and the chance at state convention is something they all are eager to work for.

Student teaching provides challenges no matter where you are. However, I think my experience is quite different from many of my peers. A lot of my classmates have very few (if any) shop classes. ALL of my classes spend the bulk of their time in the shop. I also have many periods where I have multiple classes (one class has freshman, sophomores, juniors, and seniors). The challenges I face are different as well. Attendance is a major issue at the school I am at, there are other academic challenges due to the lack of attendance as well. I’m also the minority in the school, where none of my classmates are. The teacher also holds less power because many students don’t care about their grades and not all of the parents stress the importance of school. While the environment is challenging, I am learning more than I ever hoped to during student teaching. 

The country is beautiful and everyone has been very welcoming here. I look forward to get more involved and to see how the students do, as contests are about to begin. I am going to try to update this blog more often from now on, as I am finally starting to settle in!


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