Every year, there are student teachers from nearby universities who continue their teacher training here in the district paired with one or two cooperating teachers (CTs). This semester there are eight in the building.
Student teachers are here to gain experience so that when they get a job as a teacher they already have an idea of what to do and what not do when they teach.
“Not only will they learn the high school experience again, since they were already in high school, they will also learn all the technology and how things have changed,” senior Zugey Olvera said.
Both students and cooperating teachers reveal to the student teacher the reality of teaching. Student teachers begin observing their CTs then slowly start taking over the classroom with their CT mentoring them all the way through. According to English teacher and current cooperating teacher Kimberley Gach, students may give a student teacher a hard time because they recognize they are new at this.
“I expect, at the very least, that they will test the student teacher,” Gach said.
Teachers can become cooperating teachers by volunteering and filling out an interest form with the district. Student teacher candidates are then vetted and potential CTs can look over resumes to see if they might be a good fit as a mentor. Gach currently hosts Emma Dazzo, a student teacher from the University of Illinois.
“I think just being a student myself not being in high school that long ago, it’s easier to relate to students,” Dazzo said. “I get what you guys are going through.”
According to Dazzo, she will stay at BG for 16 weeks to complete her training. She will then earn her bachelor’s degree and teaching license in May.
Additionally, as a part of Dazzo’s training, she has to record a video of her teaching in front of the classroom. It is part of something called the edTPA evaluation, which is an evaluation that all student teachers must do in the state of Illinois. Dazzo attended Prospect High School and was excited to have the opportunity to come back to the district.
CTs mentor student teachers in terms of classroom management, pacing, lesson planning, and more. Many also try to give words of wisdom and advice to help them on their journey.
“I hope to inspire Ms. Dazzo to develop relationships with her students, to know them as individuals,” Gach said.
Student teaching provides a hands-on experience that allows prospective teachers to truly know what the job will be like. This is similar to an internship in the business world.
“They can learn new skills to improve since they’re actually working with students,” Olvera said.
According to Dazzo, there is a lot of pressure, a lot of learning in terms of how to handle classroom management and overall figuring out who she really is as a teacher.
“I really hope to hone my skills and determine more of what kind of teacher I want to be,” Dazzo said. “I just need to take it all in and learn from as many people as possible.”