Student Teaching with Donnie McCord

By Nashville Teacher Residency Team on February 21, 2017

student teaching

Throughout the residency year, NTR teacher residents become more and more independent in their classrooms. They begin to take on more daily lesson planning and classroom duties. Their skills learned from bi-weekly resident classes are put into action as the residents begin to get a stronger grasp on who they are as a teacher and how they are going to ensure all kids are engaged and learning throughout the school day.

When NTR first launched its blog last August, we highlighted the background and experiences of Donnie McCord. We learned who she is, what she was excited about and how she hoped to inspire her students.

Let’s circle back with Donnie to see how she is feeling after four more months of teacher training and her first week of student teaching under her belt.

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

Mastering the content. I have taken the initiative to learn and understand the content that I am teaching on a deeper level. When students make a mistake or have a question, I want to be able to 1. Back track and understand where that mistake came from 2. Answer any questions that they may have. In order to meet these two goals, I need to know the content in and out. I feel like I have come a long way since the beginning of the year, and I am feeling more confident each day.

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?

I used to be nervous leading the class. Sometimes I felt like I was having an out of body experience in front of my students. I ask myself questions in my head: “Do they [the students] understand? Am I rambling?” Also, I would twirl my necklace and rings.

One day, I realized that I am not twirling my rings anymore. I now find myself in front of my class standing up straight with more confidence.

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

I was nervous about my first week of student teaching. I knew that school staff and NTR staff would stop by to observe my class. BUT, I found that the previous practice and work that I had done with my mentor teacher had helped to prepare me to have a successful first week of student teaching.

What is one lesson that you learned that you will keep in mind during your upcoming weeks of student teaching?

Every class has a classroom culture, and since I am teaching in someone else’s classroom it can be challenging to create my own classroom culture within his. I learned to implement the established classroom rules while still being myself. It is a work in progress.

Do you have any breakthrough stories with a student that you would like to share?

Yes! Previously, one of my students had a difficult time with staying on task in class. When she got distracted, others got distracted as well, and it was affecting the classroom culture. One day after school, I had the opportunity to have a conversation with this student about herself outside of school. By showing interest in who she is outside of school, I was able to better gain her respect. Now in class, I can more easily get her back on track when she is distracted, and I feel like our classroom culture has grown stronger.