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Reflections of a Student Teacher

May 15, 2023

My student teaching experience was transformative. The ten weeks were filled with moments of joy and growth. I learned many lessons, and I wanted to share a few.

My focus during student teaching was to connect with students and build a partnership with them. I felt that a truly student-centered classroom honors who students are and incorporates student voice and choice. My mentor teachers inspired this focus. They connected with students in different but meaningful ways. From weekend updates to asking how clubs and sports were going, they made sure to know what was going on in their students’ lives. I started doing the same. By doing so, I learned so much about who students are and what they care about. It also created space to ask students what their preferences for learning are. I was then able to incorporate their voice in the lessons I planned and give them choice in activities they completed. When I asked students what they thought about including student voice and choice in the classroom, they shared that “having a choice makes me feel heard and is helpful to customize my learning experience to my preferences to help me succeed”, and “I love having a choice in class because it makes me feel more important”. My students taught me that including student voice and choice in the classroom creates rich learning experiences for them and me. The classroom becomes our classroom.

My students created door decorations for Black History Month.

I also learned that reflection is key. Teachers are reflective practitioners; lessons and teaching practices can always improve. Self-reflection and conversations with others, like my mentor teachers, created space for me to consider how I can improve. I liked reflecting immediately after lessons because my thoughts and feelings about how the lesson went were the freshest then. I also saw teachers reflecting with one another. Members from the Human Geography team would meet often and discuss how the lessons they created went. The discussion was surrounded around what went well and what could be improved. Here, collaboration was not only rooted in creating ideas as a team but also creating space to grow as a collective of teachers. They knew that they can always get better at their craft.

I learned one last and arguably the most important lesson. My last day of student teaching was very bittersweet. On the one hand, the end of student teaching meant I was that much closer to getting my own classroom. On the other hand, it meant saying goodbye to everyone. I loved the school community, from the teachers to the students. I thought to myself, how can I say goodbye to individuals who have made such an impact on me? I then realized that the people you meet is the best part of the job. Teaching means meeting individuals who will forever change your life. I am so grateful for the people I met at Elk Grove High School, and I am so excited to meet more wonderful people next year. I can’t wait to start my teaching career!

Dhruvi Soni and mentors
My mentor teachers, Kristen Gierman and Julio Fernandez-Ibarra, were two of the amazing educators I met at Elk Grove High School.