With the school year coming to an end, the resident student teachers are leaving our high school community and returning back to their college lives. For many of them, that means college graduation and making steps toward their future careers.
At OHS, there were nine student observation placements and seven student teacher placements during the 2022-23 school year. These college students have helped out in many of the departments of the school, including English, Social Studies, Science, Kinetic Wellness, Fine Arts-Band, and Special Education.
Prior to student teaching, college students pursuing majors in education go through observation placements, often referred to as field experience. This consists mostly of observing classroom dynamics and teaching styles, giving them the opportunity to become comfortable and familiar with a teaching setting before taking on the leading teaching role.
“For a lot of my peers, they were placed at one high school or middle school or elementary school for their field experience, then they were reassigned to a new location for their student teaching,” Ms. Gabrielle Tozier, a student teacher for the English department, said.
Tozier was lucky enough to have both her field experience and her in-class teaching experience at OHS. She is currently a senior at North Central College, majoring in both English and education. For the first semester of the school year, she observed a variety of classes through the English department.
In the process of student teaching, college students are paired with a school then paired with a teacher or two, known as cooperating teachers, that allow the student teacher to take the lead in their classroom. During this time, they are then able to apply what they have learned through field experience as they develop their own teaching style.
“I was very familiar with my students and my two cooperating teachers,” Tozier said. “I have freshmen and sophomores, and so I think that that was really nice getting to pick up from there.”
Many of the student teachers at OH, including Tozier, teach for multiple cooperating teachers across a variety of subjects and grade levels.
“I have been teaching English 4…and English 1,” Ms. Molly Quinn said. “It’s been a lot of fun.”
Quinn worked in the English department as a student teacher during the second semester. She graduated from Illinois State University with double majors in Media and English, and now attends Aurora University to get her Master’s in teaching.
Teaching across various grade levels and curriculums has helped these college students gain experience working with different types of students and learning styles, giving them the greatest opportunity to gain educational experience that will help them for their future careers.
In addition to becoming more familiar with students and learning styles, many of our student teachers have been able to make large impacts in the curriculum and classrooms of their cooperating teachers.
“With my freshmen, we started a new book to the curriculum: ‘Everything Sad is Untrue.’ I got to build some of those lessons from scratch, which is really cool,” Quinn said.
OHS gave these college students, like Quinn, the chance to use the knowledge from their college courses to leave their mark on the school community, while also encouraging them to push themselves to try new things.
“I completely took over, so I am doing the assignments; I’m doing the grading; I’m doing the tests; I’m doing absolutely everything, and up until now, that’s not an experience I’ve had before,” Mr. Griffith Inskeep, a student teacher in the social studies department, said.
Inskeep has been with Mrs. Jacqueline Wojtyszyn since the beginning of the school year. For the first semester, he was at OHS to gain field experience, sitting in on classes and mostly observing. Then, after gaining familiarity with the school and community, Inskeep took on a leading teaching role when classes returned for the second semester.
Student teaching is an opportunity for these new members of the school community to leave a lasting impact on the students. Coming from different backgrounds, they bring their own unique ideas and perspectives that, combined with their passion for teaching, make them active members of the learning environment in their cooperating classroom.
“Student teachers coming in bring in the new things that they learn in their education courses to help the students learn more and better learn the material,” Inskeep said.
In comparison to the teaching styles of current teachers, these student teachers bring new ideas and new energy to OHS. For students that may not have been as responsive to their teachers’ style, the new styles that student teachers bring have helped them become more comfortable and successful in the classroom.
In addition to this, the student teachers are not far in age from many of the OHS students, making building connections with the students much easier. Their proximity in age helps them have a larger margin of relatability with their students.
“It’s good for the kids to see someone around their age in an occupation so they can see that they can do that too and they can become a teacher if they want to,” Inskeep said.
Because of this age proximity, the student teachers serve as strong role models and help show OHS students that they are capable of great success in pursuing their post-secondary goals.
“The most chosen major is undecided, so it’s okay to go in not knowing what you want to do, and you can use that time to explore,” Mr. Joseph Koenig, a student teacher for the science department, said.
Koenig has helped as a student teacher for both semesters, and has been able to work with students in all grade levels in a wide range of science classes. He is currently a senior at Louis University pursuing a double major in a bachelor of arts and secondary education and bachelor of science in physics.
Koenig, like many of the other student teachers, has persevered through many challenges. Being both college students and high school teachers, the student teachers face the struggles associated with both of their roles. The process of becoming a teacher is not easy, and coupling that with the stresses of leading classes demonstrates the resilience of these college students.
“One of the biggest things is overcoming your self doubt and just trying relentlessly,” Koenig said.
The student teachers have overcome many challenges, and have developed into successful, ambitious members of the OH community. Many of the student teachers will graduate from their universities this semester. They hope to become teachers themselves and make a difference in the lives of their next students.
“I really hope to change some kids’ lives or help them to enjoy school more,” Inskeep said.
We wish them luck and success in their future endeavors!
My name is Natalie Raabe and I am a senior at Oswego High School. This is my second year as a member of the 42fifty team and I serve as a Managing Editor and the Features Section Leader. Additionally, I am a member of the BIONIC board, NHS, Best Buddies, SNHS, NEHS, Rho Kappa, and Mu Alpha Theta.