Saturday, April 23, 2016

Student Teaching Blog

Student Teaching Blog
Jeff Seabaugh 

When I first began my journey in the CCNY Educational Theatre Department I remember hearing other students further along in the process talking about their student teaching experiences.  I hung on their every word and relished hearing about the highs and lows of teaching.  I entered this program at a pivotal time in my life.  I was beginning a new chapter as theatre artist, a father, and an educator.   I often wondered if I really had it in me to make this transition and to see this dream come true.  The past two and a half years have raced by and I can’t believe that my dream of actually teaching real live students has become a reality.
Student teaching is an amazing experience and it calls on me to seize every moment of every day.  In a concentrated amount of time I have been immersed in the nitty gritty, day-to-day world of teaching.  Student teaching is the ultimate immersive theatre experience and I accept my role as teacher proudly.   Over the past two and a half years I have rehearsed being a classroom teacher in front of my colleagues and professors.  I’ve written lesson plans.  I’ve read about Piaget, Gardner, and Greene.  I’ve learned about creating an inclusive classroom.  I’ve taught residencies in schools to prepare me for the role of classroom teacher.  I’ve written more lesson plans.  I’ve revised lesson plans.  I’ve observed and reflected more than I thought humanly possible.  All of these tasks and lessons have been in preparation for the day when I would step through a classroom door and begin this new life as a teacher.  As a student teacher the crystal ball starts to become clearer. The teacher I want to be is coming into focus.  I had always assumed I would only want to teach high school students and if it wasn’t for my exposure to middle school students and elementary students during my student teaching experience I wouldn’t have had my mind opened to new possibilities. 

I am currently doing both my student teaching placements simultaneously and have the unique opportunity to be experiencing life in both public and private schools.   I couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity to peek inside two very different schools as I prepare to hit the job market and search for a school that is a great fit for me and the talents I can bring to my drama students. 
I am currently working with middle and high school students in suburban Dobbs Ferry, New York and I’m working at the lower school of the Riverdale Country Day School in the Bronx.  I spend the mornings at one school and the afternoons at the other.  I use the twenty minute commute time between schools to decompress, switch hats, and yes, reflect.   Over the past two months I have seen with my own eyes the magic of what we learn at CCNY come true.  I know now that 5th graders can devise original theatre pieces based on their social studies curriculum.  I’ve seen 2nd graders learn how to improv and use physicality to create characters. 

I’ve learned that high school students can participate in really thought provoking conversations when they put down their phones.  I have developed compassion for middle school students who are full of attitude and angst as they are just beginning to figure out who they are.  I have seen how valuable teacher collaboration across disciplines can be.  I’ve also seen how the community that a school can create is important to the happiness of teachers and students.  I’ve learned that being nimble and flexible with a schedule can help keep me sane.  I’ve learned that a smile can help a bad day get better.  In short, I am using EVERYTHING I ever learned over these last two years.  I have lost count of how many times I’ve gone back over my notes, searched for lesson plans I wrote two years ago, looked for a handout I received in a class, or consulted my book of curriculum maps!

In one month I will end my student teaching experience and I am eager to see what new door will open for me.  My best advice for my colleagues who have yet to begin student teaching is don’t throw away anything and always be a source of positive energy even if you are surrounded by negativity.  You’d be surprised how far that will take you.  Immerse yourself in the experience and remain open to possibilities it will offer.     

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