A day in the life of a student teacher

13 years ago Matthew Crutchfield 0

by Matt Crutchfield, Senior Staff Writer

I wake up at six every morning and arrive at the middle school in Decatur, Tenn. before the sun makes it up over the horizon.

I stand in the teacher’s lounge, watching the paper pile up on the copier. I take a moment of silence for the forest in Wyoming that was leveled so my students could learn about alliteration. I assist in bus duty, explaining to students why they can’t go to the bathroom in groups of six. I am everyone’s favorite target in dodge ball. I am a student teacher at Meigs Middle School.

Senior Matt Crutchfield teaches a lesson on alliteration
Senior Matt Crutchfield teaches a lesson on alliteration

As a student teacher, the days are rarely uneventful, and some even border on chaos.

Last Friday, the entire school was locked down due to an emergency, “Code 2”. Police cars raced past the window, drug dogs sniffed the lockers. I managed to quell my students’ paranoia for a half hour with a quick review of figurative language, while disaster scenarios played out in my head. It was only after our classroom was evacuated that I learned it was a routine search for illegal substances.

A less-exhilarating distraction from the normal routine was the seventh grade spelling bee, in which I was deemed the ‘official’ pronouncer. The students were released into the gymnasium, where a lone podium faced a table with three chairs. I was convinced I had just walked onto the set of American Idol. As I read the words aloud to the contestants I prayed my voice would not crack and ruin any amount of authority I had accumulated. Two hundred words later, a champion emerged and I walked away from the table with my respectability intact.

I joined five teachers and 80 students on a field trip to the Murder Mystery Dinner Theater in downtown Chattanooga, Tenn. Crowd control was priority one, and I was given the task of escorting the students across the busy streets. Midday Chattanooga traffic combined with a horde of energetic students resembled a twisted game of Frogger, but thankfully everyone reached the bus. The return trip was spent singing traditional travel songs, most of which were designed to kill brain cells.

“I’ve got a song that will get on your nerves.”

“This is the song that never ends.”

“Ninety-nine bottles of coke on the wall.”

The students shouted the lyrics while I tried my best to mimic their enthusiasm.

When I used to picture my final semester of college, I never imagined my schedule would be so unpredictable. I never imagined I would be teaching poetry to 140 seventh-grade students. Waking up early and coming home late were characteristics of an “adult schedule”, not my own. However, I have traded the quiet halls and ordered sanity of Bryan College for the adventures of a middle school education.

Another major symptom of student teaching is an absence from campus life, a fact made even more profound because I live off campus. On the occasions that I am on the Hill, there are always those who greet me like a lost comrade back from the frontlines.

“I thought you graduated!”

“Do you still go here?”

The only response is a drive-thru explanation of my hectic schedule that places social interaction just below sleeping and eating. The look on their faces when I mention my 9 p.m. bedtime is priceless.

Despite the changes in sleeping patterns, social life and a constant state of fatigue, I believe student teaching is essential to preparing college students for the structured chaos of the classroom. It is a bridge that connects information and reality—a unique vantage point that allows us to incorporate our knowledge and strategies in a working school environment.

Student teaching is also a time of great relationships. Becoming a small part of the school community has been extremely rewarding. Learning new games at recess, showing school spirit at basketball games, and keeping up with the students lives on a daily basis, have also become part of my routine.

So at six in the morning, when the alarm clock crashes to the floor and I am questioning my resolve to become a teacher, I am reminded of the relationships I have made with teachers and students alike. I am reminded of the bizarre experiences that make each day unique, and I am reminded of the importance of a teacher.