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I agree that learning how to deal with the kids is the most important
thing. Anything that helps with that before you are on your own is great
and should be commonplace and not an exception. However, I'm not sure that
such artificial situations truly prepare you for those moments when it's
just you and 20-40 kids waiting to be impressed, inspired, etc. Some of
those skills can only come with time and trial and error.
A good college program will prepare you in as many ways as possible for
dealing with the entire job of teaching. Teaching, especially at first is
overwhelming. There is so much to do in addition to dealing with the
students that it is easy to focus on planning, paperwork and materials
rather than the students. I think a good program would find ways to help
with this as well. After eleven plus years of teaching at all three
levels, there are still things that I wish I had. Many of which could
have been done in college, but I've had to make on my own time or have done
without. Trying to find or prepare the following items has taken time away
from my students and/or my personal life. I can't imagine how much easier
my job would have been if I'd had...
1. three sets of definitions (one for each level) for the elements and
principles of design, the basic vocabulary associated with drawing,
painting, printmaking, ceramics, sculpture, and weaving, and general art
concepts. (This definitions would need to be ones I had written,
understood and with which I felt comfortable, not ones borrowed from a
text. Having these typed in a generic file format and on a disk would
have been nice. Getting really carried away, wouldn't it be great to have
sample test questions (also for each level) already made up so all I had to
do would be to cut, paste and print to create a test for any lesson.)
2. Visuals associated with each of the areas listed above---large enough
for display on the bulletin board
3. sample rubrics and other grading methods, suggestions for how to set up
a gradebook and keep attendance, and sample sets of classroom rules--again
for all grade levels
4. suggestions and samples for classroom management and supplies--which
items do you need one for every student, which do you need one for every
table, which ones do you need classroom sets of, how do you store work that
needs to dry when there is no place to store it, etc.
5. sample projects with all necessary materials already prepared, samples
of identical projects altered for each of the grade levels, information on
famous artists and visual, etc. (We were give copies of sample projects in
my art education classes, but they only listed things such as teach
ceramics vocabulary and display examples, they didn't include these items.
As a result, the samples were nothing more than ideas that represented
quite a lot of work to prepare.)
Many of the items are things that are discussed on the list as things we
are all still looking for. Imagine what the first year of teaching would
be like if we didn't have to create anything to start the first few
projects or to manage the classroom. What if all we had to do was choose
from the samples and examples we already had. We could focus on the kids,
getting to know them, calling parents, adjusting to the school routine and
finding our rhythm as teachers. When the items that we had chosen didn't
work for our situation, we could choose others or adjust them( much easier
than creating from scratch.) When time passed and we changed to a level we
never imagined ourselves teaching, we could pull out that stuff we made in
college and have a much easier transition.
Dealing with the students takes a lot of time to learn. ANYTHING that
helps give us that time should be applauded.