I've had some time to decompress and start to think about my student teaching experience. First off, I think I want to make sure it's clear that I had a great time and learned alot from my mentor teacher who I really got along with. That being said, I saw and experienced many things that have made me try to formulate my own ideas and philosophies.
I think that the most concerning attitude I experienced was the "us VS them" thought pattern. It seemed that some of the other teachers and their student teachers focused on waging a war against their students. It became a challenge to pick the right day to give a quiz to make sure that the kids hadn't done their homework and did badly on the quiz so that they'd "learn" to do their work. Or taking the tricky question off an assignment, changing it slightly and putting it on the test just so that they could say "it was on the homework!!!!".... Neither giving quizzes or putting modified homework questions on a test are really questionable. But the reasoning behind it seemed so adversarial to me. It was hard to work through. Especially because my mentor teacher really bought into the "we're all on the same side" mentality. He believes that he is there for the students and we're supposed to work together. That seems so much more reasonable.
I was also slightly bothered by the low expectations. Some of the teachers seemed to have low expectations of the students. They placed the "few" who they thought would be able to go on to post secondary on a pedestal and then kind of smiled at the rest. I know that this is born out in reality, but there was a well stated belief that most of them didn't have a chance. They expected students not to do their homework or study. They expected students to behave poorly. Other teachers had much higher expectations. One big place where teachers seemed to differ was on how students behaved while doing individual work. Some classes were LOUD and others were much more orderly and quiet.
I also really enjoyed seeing the various places where students found homes. Some students ate lunch regularly in my mentor teacher's classroom. Even if they weren't working on chem or physics, they'd meet there and eat. Other students found those homes in the art room, or film and media studies. It was nice to see that there were places for these kids to go where they could interact with an adult and feel connected to their environment.
I'm excited for my next semester. It will be more relaxed than this last one. But, it will also be challenging as I take my first math class in 8 years and go back to writing papers and exams. Mainly, I can't wait for next fall when I get to do my long placements. That has promise and I hope I enjoy it as much.