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Student Teachers Prepare for Careers

By Charlotte J. Muenzenberger
UW-RF News Bureau

FEB. 18, 2005--Business suits of all colors filled the River Room in Rodli Commons at UW-River Falls on Feb. 11. Dressed appropriately for the occasion, some 122 student teachers created an air of professionalism as they attended the event designed to give them a head start on the season of interviews they'll face as graduates or as they apply for fall internships and student teaching positions.

A panel of experts provided the inside angle on teaching in the professional world. The panel included Ellie Richards, fourth-grade student teaching supervisor at Greenwood Elementary in River Falls, Elaine Baumann, River Falls High School principal, Leon Rogella, Highland Junior High seventh-grade teacher in St. Paul, and Fred Andrist, executive director of the West Central Education Association.

Career counselor Sally Berkholder conducted the seminar, which was organized by UW-RF Career Services, because career development of student teachers is so much different than that for other UW-RF graduates.

The entire career services staff was involved in this event, including presenting seminars, moderating the panel, conducting mock interviews and offering individual assistance on résumés and cover letters.

Berkholder kicked off the panel with several frequently asked, such as what student teachers should be most aware of, what qualifications employers are seeking, and issues such as applying for and maintaining certification and licensure.
Each panelist provided a unique perspective.

"Student teachers need to be prepared and respect students with some degree of discipline," said Richards, who said it is critical to respond honestly to work instead of worrying about appearing "nice" to students. She also said that lesson plan variety is good, but that student teachers should not overlook the fact that students thrive on routine.

Students should make the most out of working with their cooperative teachers during the student teaching or internship process. "The teacher takes a large risk by opening up the classroom to student teachers," said Richards. "Fortunately, this allows for the development of a great team. By utilizing the presence of a student teacher, the cooperating teacher can focus on the students who need more attention."

Rogella agrees that beginning teachers need to learn a lot in order to succeed, especially about teacher-student relationships. He explained the importance of establishing respect in the classroom and realizing that the students are the teacher’s responsibility, even when the teacher doesn't have control over all of the things that happens in the classroom.

Baumann stressed that an impeccable cover letter and résumé is an indicator of professionalism as well as leadership experience and organizational skills. She also spoke about flexibility, explaining that employers desire someone who utilizes a variety of skills by teaching in many different areas or demonstrating multiple activities.

Baumann said that student teachers should know their limits and overcome the fear of asking for help. "It is important for beginning teachers to be familiar with different areas, but at the same time not to take on too much," advised Baumann. Sometimes beginning teachers lack a realization of how much work it takes to operate an efficient classroom.

Andrist closed the seminar by explaining the benefits of joining the West Central Education Association. An organization comprised of school districts in the region, WCEA provides practical solutions for workplace issues. Andrist said that WCEA assesses the school climate and gives insight to a productive working atmosphere. "WCEA will help new teachers through their first day," says Andrist.

Career Services adviser and recruitment coordinator June Schubert said the Career Development Day was a success. "The student teachers are very appreciative of this event as evidenced by their comments on the 70 evaluation forms turned in at the end of the day," she said.

Whether adding finishing touches to résumés or learning an inside tip from real-world educators, Career Services Professional Development Day will help UW-RF student teachers become well "suited" to teach in their own classrooms.

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Last updated: Tuesday, 22-Jun-2010 16:21:19 Central Daylight Time

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