Becoming More Independent in the Classroom

By Nashville Teacher Residency Team on March 15, 2017

becoming more independent

In his first interview last September, JD Skipworth shared how he went from working in a cubicle to applying to become a teacher resident. This career change led JD to not only enjoy and thrive in his work but also join a profession of which he is proud.

After shadowing his mentor teacher and working with small groups throughout the fall semester, JD has completed his first two weeks of independent student teaching. To get a deeper understanding of JD’s last few weeks and months, we met back up to talk again.

Since we last spoke, in what area do you think that you have made the biggest gains?

I have really improved in lesson design, and it feels great. From a section of content to daily unit assessments, I can now clearly see how the content of one lesson connects to another and how over time it leads to students mastering a skill.

Throughout the year, you have become more independent in your mentor teacher’s classroom. Can you tell me about a challenge that has come with independence? A success?

Previously if a student was confused about lesson, my students relied on my mentor teacher to speak up and address the confusion. More and more, I find myself able to address these small confusions and help my students work them out.

On the same hand, I am still learning, and there are areas in which I lack experience. Meaning, sometimes I do not know how to respond or address an issue. With more experience and guidance from NTR staff and my colleagues at Valor, I am sure that I will continue to learn and develop as a teacher.

You just completed another week of solo student teaching! How did you prepare for student teaching?

I wanted to make sure that my students were 1. Engaged in the lesson and 2. Learning the skills presented in the lesson.

To prepare, I broke down the content piece by piece. I looked at the specific skills my students needed to master by the end of the lesson. Then I thought about the best ways to communicate and practices these skills with my students. With this information, I wrote and reviewed my lesson plans. I received feedback on my lesson plans from my mentor teacher, modified them and then put them into action.

What are you proud of from your first couple of weeks of student teaching?

I taught entire classes. I executed a beginning, a middle and an end. I put together a combination of all the skills we have learned throughout the residency. I got my feet wet by leading a class of 30 students. I now have a clearer picture of my strengths and the areas in which I still need to grow.

What lessons have you learned and/or will do differently in your upcoming weeks of student teaching?

Practicing high expectations for all students is important to me. During some of my lessons, there were some students who got distracted. After I had time to reflect on it, I realized that I wasn’t as quick as I needed to be to get them back on track and engaged in the lesson. I want to hold my students to high expectations in all areas and that includes being engaged in the class with their classmates.

What have other teacher residents said about their student teaching experiences? Visit our blog for more perspectives from NTR residents.