Practicing UNusual Teaching: SMSU Elementary Clinical Style

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Our SMSU teacher candidates have oodles and oodles of field experience hours during their teacher preparation program.

It begins with their freshman year in Introduction to Education where they are expected to complete 15 hours in a classroom of their desired grade level. Fast forward to their junior methods year and they find themselves completing 90+ hours in the classroom.

During these numerous hours, the teacher candidates are asked to do the usual tasks…observe, keep a journal, teach one lesson, interview a student, interview their mentor teacher, and assist the teacher in any way possible.

And then along comes the elementary clinical in the spring of their junior year. Dare I say there is nothing usual about this field experience. Our SMSU teacher candidates are in total control of a classroom for two full days, team teaching every lesson and every subject based on one chosen theme. When our teacher candidates have successfully completed their two days of clinical, a gratifying exhaustion sets in…

Well, our 2017 two-day elementary clinical concluded last week and is now written in the book of success. It is an experience that our teacher candidates will always remember (I still remember mine and that was 32 years ago). Read on for a few of their clinical perspectives:

Alli: This was an experience that will never be forgotten. Organizing the lesson plans and all of the classroom theme decorations was a good insight into what it will be like having my own classroom. This is truly the only college experience that allows an education student to be fully immersed and in control of an entire classroom for TWO whole days! Definitely a great experience and one that helped me build upon my teaching skills.

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Mady: Clinical was a very fun, hectic, scary, most worthwhile experience I’ve done for teaching. A memorable activity we used was a life-size whale that students got to climb inside of and explore around.

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Taylor: I thoroughly enjoyed making all the decorations and planning for our theme. The first day was a whirlwind. We had a girl projectile vomit in the classroom and a boy hit his head in PE. Clinical was stressful, but what made it all worth it was when we had a little girl come up to us and say, “This is the most fun I have ever had in school.”

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Madison: During partner work time, one student looked at me and said, “I need a break.” I followed him out, talked to him for a bit, and after a few seconds of silence he rejoined the class. Sometimes everybody needs a little hallway thinking time.

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Janaye: At the end of the second day, a student I had been working with gave me a high five and said bye to me. This was only the third time I heard him talk in the two days so it meant a lot to me that he wanted to say bye.

Niki: Students absolutely loved the pirate theme classroom. Shout out to Dave Burgess and Dr. Wendy Schoolmeester. “Teach like a Pirate.”

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Mariah: Clinical was a blast and it was a glimpse into our futures as teachers because we did everything from planning to reflecting.

Laura: We ate lunch with our class and they LOVED it. They were begging us to eat with them again on Friday. One girl told me my hair looked like a tiger with stripes and that I should be their school mascot.

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Morgan: My group and I worked really hard. I kept thinking to myself, “I have three partners. How in the world does a teacher do all of this by him/herself?” There was no sitting or down time. We were always on the move.

Sarah: Our group worked really well together. When one person was getting stuck on explaining something we jumped in to help. Make sure you know where you are supposed to be and what time you’re supposed to be there. Whoops.

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Taylor: At the end of the second day, a young girl came up to me and said “I just want you to know this is the first time I’ve ever had fun in school. I mean, I’ve had fun on field trips, but not in actual school.” Made all of the work/hours/time SO worth it.

Annie: As a Special Education major, I found a lot of value having this experience. It helped me understand the supports the students are receiving in the classroom. I worked closely with a student who was struggling with attention. I thought he would be ready to get back to his usual routine. When I asked him Friday, “Can you believe we’re done?” His response was, “I wish we weren’t.”

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Congrats, teacher candidates! You all certainly practiced UN-usual teaching…clinical style! 🙂

As Shelley and Dave Burgess say in their book P is for PIRATE, “U is for UN. We need a lot more of this kind of “UN” in education.”

Teacher candidates…to quote the Burgesses, you were “unwavering in your commitment, unleashed in your creativity, uncommon in your methods, unbroken in your spirit, unmatched in your effort, uninhibited in your passion, unabashed in your enthusiasm, and uncompromising in your pursuit of excellence (Burgess, 2014).

Continue to excel!

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Stay Calm & Stay Unusual!
Profs Dr. Wendy & Dr. V.

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