Archive for the 'Student Teaching' Category

Meet Jessica Brown


Ms. Brown

Hometown: Bartlett, TN is where I resided until I was 23 years-old. It was a great place to grow up and I will always consider it home.  In 2007, I moved to Hortonville, Wis., which I’ve come to embrace as a second home.

Major: Elementary Education (Middle Childhood Early Adolescence)
Minor: Mathematics Education
Student Teaching Placement: Hortonville Elementary School, 4th grade, 9 weeks and Greenville Middle School, 7th grade math, 9 weeks.

Why education?  Teachers have a unique opportunity to really make a difference in the lives of children.

I have come to believe that a great teacher is a great artist and that there are as few as there are any other great artists. Teaching might even be the greatest of the arts since the medium is the human mind and spirit. -John Steinbeck

Teaching is both an art and a science. I believe that too often we ask teachers to focus too heavily on one aspect while completely ignoring the other. Also, math is not what most of us have done in math classes in school. It is so much more than following the prescribed steps to solve an equation. I recently read an article by Paul  Lockhart titled “The Mathematician’s Lament.” In the article, an art teacher and a music teacher have nightmares where there subjects have been reduced to memorization of language, terms, and notation. The student’s don’t actually create or partake in art or music until high school. And even then it’s a lesser form like paint by numbers or music for dummies. Somehow the students are expected to be challenged, engaged, and persevere until college when they get the big payoff in their chosen discipline. In the article Lockhart writes, “Sadly, our present system of mathematics education is precisely this kind of nightmare. In fact, if I had to design a mechanism for the express purpose of destroying a child’s natural curiosity and love of pattern making, I couldn’t possibly do as good a job as is currently being done I simply wouldn’t have the imagination to come up with that type of senseless, soul crushing ideas that constitute on temporary mathematics education… The only people who understand what is going on are the ones most often blamed and least often heard: the students. ‘They say math class is stupid and boring’ and they are right.”

Before I incite a riot, please allow me to explain. When students memorize facts simply because we tell them to or to get a good grade on the test this results in wasted time and energy on behalf of the teacher and the student. The fact is, there are few real world applications where it is beneficial to be able to regurgitate large amounts of memorized information. When a student asks, “Why does multiplying two negative numbers together result in a positive product?” and the teacher responds, “that is just the rule.” This is unacceptable! There is actually a legitimate mathematical explanation. Even if the teacher doesn’t know that answer, he/she should think about it and get back to the student. One of the big goals of education is to create critical consumers. Critical consumers think and ask questions. Also, when we teach math in the step-by-step prescribed method we lock students into one way of thinking and sever deep and meaningful mathematical connections.

I want to teach children that math makes sense and should be fun and that reading is an adventure and time well spent. Being an effective teacher requires a certain element of figuring out what students know, what misconceptions they have, and how to best help them learn what you want them to know. I enjoy this challenge and that it’s different every day with every child. I was blessed with some great teachers throughout my childhood and they made lasting impacts on my life. These are a few of the reasons that I chose education. Thoughts and feelings: I am feeling excited and ready for this experience to start. I have three key things I’m concentrating on throughout this experience.

  1. Step up, step out, and shine! I grew up with a brother who lived, breathed, ate and slept baseball, so stepping up is a baseball analogy. This is my time to step up to the plate. Without an at bat, you cannot hit a home run. I am going to continue stepping out of my comfort zone and trying new things last year I studied abroad in China, this year I’m headed to Wyoming in March to spend a week on an Indian Reservation. This is my time to put the final touches into my teaching and really shine as a teacher candidate.
  2. Equal is not fair. This is something that I didn’t understand prior to pursuing a degree in education. Every child does not have the same needs, so every child doesn’t need the same instruction. I have come to believe this with all my heart.
  3. Is it good enough for my child? If it’s not good enough for my child, it’s not good enough for the students in my class either!

I believe that if I keep these three things in mind, my students will have fun and learn a lot. I also believe this will make me a successful teacher candidate and a great representative of the University of Wisconsin College of Education and Human Services.

Meet Matt Wolfert

MattCabinGreetings!  My name is Matthew Wolfert, and I am an Elementary Education major (PreK- 8th grade) with minors in English as a Second Language (ESL) and Music. Although I grew up surrounded by fields of corn and soybeans in the city of Sheboygan Falls, Wisconsin, I have decided to leave the country roads behind me and student teach in an urban setting. I will begin student teaching in Milwaukee, WI at the end of January with the UW System’s Institute of Urban Education (IUE)!

Besides being a lifelong learner, I am drawn to education because I am drawn to empowering youth. I believe that there is at least one thing everyone is good and passionate at doing- whether it’s making music, writing stories, performing dance, cooking, and so on. As an educator, I want to help my students discover their passions, and use that to support their growth. I want to build solid relationships with students, co-teachers, and people in my community as an educator and use my networks and connections to open possibilities for my students and school, in general. While researching the Institute for Urban Education, Milwaukee Public Schools, and reading about the city of Milwaukee’s demographics online, I really felt a connection. I feel like I can benefit many students’ and their families’ lives while teaching in MPS and vice versa.

Since my teaching licensure will involve all students ages birth through 8th grade, as well as ESL, I will have two placements while I student teach. I am so thankful for Sandy Ivers, who has worked hard to find me two placements that meet all my licensure requirements. Both of my placements are in the MPS school district. My first placement is in a 4th grade classroom at Gwen T. Jackson Early Childhood and Elementary School. The school is located on the north side and has a mission of “providing the necessary skills for students to become thinking, productive, and responsible citizens.” Prior to student teaching, I observed and volunteered at a school near Gwen T. Jackson. The students and staff were very energetic and welcoming, and I was able to make great connections with everyone. This is one reason why I have applied to teach in Milwaukee, and I am excited to gain more experiences like the ones I have already had in an area I am familiar.

My second placement is at Escuela Vieau School. At Vieau, I will be teaching middle school ESL. Vieau is on the south side of Milwaukee and is a bilingual Spanish/English school. On Vieau’s website, I read “41% of the students are learning English as a second language.” I have not had experiences teaching in a bilingual school before, and I am very excited to see the impact I will make on students as an ESL teacher at Vieau. I have found out that the school is very rich in Mexican and Puerto Rican cultures and has great recognition for family and community involvement.

I am so excited to begin my student teaching experiences. I am thrilled to share my experiences with you, as well!

Lots of laughter,

Matthew Wolfert

Meet Traci Wiess



  • Hometown: Waterford, Wisconsin
  • Major:  Elementary Education – Early Childhood through Middle Childhood
  • Minor: Spanish (non licensable)
  • Student Teaching Placement: Oaklawn Elementary, 4th grade
  • Length:18 weeks


Why I decided to become a teacher: 

I’ve always loved working with children and learning as a whole.  However, I didn’t decide to become a teacher until about half way through my freshman year of college.  At the time, I was planning on pursuing a degree in political science – until I had the realization that I just would not be happy at a desk job.  I love to be moving, talking, creating, and learning – so teaching was the obvious choice.

Thoughts and feelings about student teaching:

At first I was super nervous about student teaching, but now I’m just excited!  It’s going to be a challenge, one that is going to prepare me to find a job and pursue this career for the rest of my life.  The classroom that I’m teaching in is a 4th/5th grade multi-age classroom that is team taught, and I’ve never been in that type of classroom.  I cannot wait to see how the teachers collaborate and meet the needs of the students in a multi-age classroom.  What is even more daunting than teaching in a style of classroom that I’ve never seen before is the fact that each class has 28 students – that’s a grand total of 56 students!  I definitely have a lot of learning ahead of me – and I’m okay with that.  After all, I am teacher!

Starting online student teaching

uwosh picMike Wilbert, a non-traditional student from Black Creek, Wisc. is a Special Education major. He is completing a nine-week placement with the Wisconsin Virtual Academy, based in McFarland, Wisc.

I chose special education as my major because I wanted to teach a population of students who sometimes aren’t given opportunities to succeed.  Also, special education students have an honesty and realness about them that is difficult to find in a regular education setting.

As a non-traditional student it is difficult to find time to be involved on campus, most of my time is spent with my wife and our new baby girl.  I am excited to be in the last leg of my college journey. My wife is definitely ready for me to finish student teaching and get into the field.

My first student teaching placement is with the Wisconsin Virtual Academy.  This placement is almost 100% online. While most of the instruction is done via online classrooms, there will be times I will have to travel.  Times of travel will be for WKCE Testing as well as formal testing for placement into special education.  I am really excited to use some web 2.0 tools to create novel and engaging lessons.

I think this is not only a great platform for students who do not do well in the tradition brick and mortar setting, but also for students within a traditional school who may need something different to succeed. I look forward to learning the curriculum and thinking of ways to incorporate this media into my future classroom.  I am not particularly tech savvy and teaching in an online format will give me the ability to dive in, try new tools and techniques and be better for it.

Watching Students Grow

Suspenders1Paul Franzowiak, Menomonee Falls, Wi., is a Secondary Education Major with an emphasis in Mathematics. After tutoring friends in math, he was inspired to become a teacher. He will have a full 18 week placement at Maplewood Middle School in Menasha.

I feel like it’s been several weeks since I last blogged for the COEHS and my time at Maplewood is still flying by. Next weekend at this time I will be an alumni of the  University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. I look back and still can remember my first day of college classes and soon enough it will all end. I feel this exact same way with my student teaching placement. I remember walking in my first day and I’m now only a few short weeks of completing my student teaching.

I’ve started to observe other teachers and see how their teaching styles differ from mine. I’ve taken away many different tips, tricks, and words of wisdom from those who know their students and curriculum very well. I know that when I become a full-time teacher I won’t be given many of these opportunities to see other teachers, so I’m trying to get into as many classrooms as possible. I was also able to attend the Green Lake Math Conference this past week and experience many different techniques other teachers around the state are using. This was a good experience to help me stay current with different teaching practices and the ability to see how well these new techniques are working. I took away a lot from this conference and hope to attend it for many years to come.

A couple weekends ago, I ran in the Oshkosh Half Marathon. The next day I shared with the students that I took part in this event and wore a specialty made shirt that I wore during the race. I shared with the students the importance and meaning behind the things on the shirt. After this day, I feel that many of the students started to look at me differently. We were able to relate on a different level and they were able to see a different side of me. I haven’t shared many stories about my life outside of the classroom and being able to share these kinds of stories and sharing parts of my life have gone a long way. This story impacted a few of the students so much that they actually made me a giant card and gave me a balloon that congratulated me on finishing the race and going through this time in my life. I was not expecting anything like this and it really opened my eyes to how much the students and I have grown over the past semester.

Rewarding Experiences

0Samantha Hessel, from Maribel WI. She will be licensed Special Education Cross Categorical Middle Childhood through Adolescence with an emphasis in learning disabilities, Autism Spectrum Disorders Certificate, and a Spanish minor. Her 18-week placement is taking place at Shattuck Middle School.

Student teaching is flying by! I can’t believe I am over half way through this experience! It is super exciting, but terrifying and sad at the same time. I realize my time at my school is coming to a close and I love my placement and kids so much. I do not want to let them go! I have truly enjoyed my 18 week placement and am so thankful that I have been able to spend an extended amount of time with my kiddos. I feel the last couple weeks have allowed me to truly get to know my kids and to continue building relationships with them. Some of them it has taken me at least half of the semester to build a trusting relationship with them, others it clicked much sooner. Along with trying to lesson plan, complete my assignments, and get the most out of this experience I have been applying for jobs. That in and of itself is stressful. When I attended my first “real” job interview I was terrified. That is an emotional experience no one can prepare you for until you are in the throes of it. At times I feel my “to-do” list is never ending.

Student teaching is by the far the most influential, exciting, terrifying, and rewarding experience of my educational career. I feel I finally have had a true taste of what teaching will be like and know I am in the right profession.

Middle School Transition

jenniferbackesJennifer Backes,  from South Milwaukee, is majoring in Music Education with an emphasis on Instrumental and General Education. Her inspiration to become a teacher comes from long line of educators and a desire to spread her passion of music to others  Her 18-week placement is broken down by the first 9-weeks at Rosenow Elementary in Fond du Lac, and the second at Merrill and Webster-Stanley Middle Schools in Oshkosh.
I am finishing up my fourth week at my middle school placement and it is certainly a huge change from my elementary placement.  Instead of walking into a classroom filled with happy children who instantly love you, these kids are a bit more guarded.  They take awhile to warm-up to you and regard you as some weird stranger who couldn’t possibly have a clue as to what to do.  I could tell from the first week that it was going to take a much longer time for them to accept me than it did for my elementary kids.
So it was a bit of a rough transition.  Not only was I someone new but I am also the very first female student teacher that has been with this cooperating teacher.  He has always had male clinical students and student teachers.  So all of his classes have been used to college men rather than women coming in and assisting.  While some of them were very excited to finally have a woman, others were a bit more guarded.  It has taken these four weeks for many of them to accept me and some are still a bit wary.  But it is certainly a lot more fun now than it was during the first couple of weeks.
Middle schoolers in general are a bunch of fidgety kids so put an instrument in their hands and it can be downright crazy!  I have picked up many good techniques from my cooperating teacher on getting them to quiet down without have to shout over all the noise.  My cooperating teacher is fantastic and works really well with this age group.  I’m not entirely sure if I’m cut out to work with this age level but it has certainly been an interesting experience and I am excited to see where else this will take me!

A Bittersweet Break

MelissaMelissa Waltersfrom Milwaukee, is graduating with a dual major in special education and general education for first through eighth grade. She has had a life long dream of becoming a teacher. Her 18-week session is broken into two 9-week programs. Oliver Wendell Holmes Elementary  for the first 9-weeks, and Bethune Academy for the second both in the Milwaukee Public School System.
My placement at OW Holmes was a whirlwind experience.  I can’t believe that my first nine week placement has come to an end.  It is bittersweet because although I was ready for a little break from the daily grind, it will be very difficult not going back to my students come Monday morning. They were very sad on my last day but I know that each of them know that they are special to me and that I will always remember them. I could not have imagined a better classroom or a better group of students for my first student teaching placement.

Reflecting on my first placement, I realized just how happy I am with my decision to pursue student teaching in the city of Milwaukee through the Institute of Urban Education.  While it hasn’t been without some difficulties, this urban setting truly feels like home.  Having lived my whole life in the metropolitan area before going to school in Oshkosh, I’ve always had a connection to the city. The experiences are very different than those I had in the Fox Valley, but the students are still great kids and the school are still doing all they can to be the best. For those who are interested in jobs in the Milwaukee area after graduation, I would implore you to seriously consider the IUE for your student teaching opportunity.

Some of the best experiences I’ve had while student teaching came through getting to know my students.  I had the opportunity to write many of their IEPs and attend those meetings.  In working to write an effective IEP, I completed different formal and informal assessments to write reasonable goals and and accurate Present Level of Academic and Functional Performance page.  I was also sure to make connections with each student to understand the best way to reach out to them throughout the school day.  Each student has a different background, different likes and different attributes that they bring to the classroom.  The best part about being their student teacher was finding those little unique qualities and targeting instruction to each child.

It was difficult to walk out the doors of Holmes on the last day of my placement, but if my next placement is anything like my first, I very much look forward to beginning my next placement at Bethune Academy.

Trying Out Teaching Styles


Paul Franzowiak, Menomonee Falls, Wi., is a Secondary Education Major with an emphasis in Mathematics. After tutoring friends in math, he was inspired to become a teacher. He will have a full 18 week placement at Maplewood Middle School in Menasha.

Spring break has come and gone, I can’t believe that it’s already April 5th. The time and the days seem to be going faster and faster as the semester goes on. Many other student teachers have started their new placements and I’m still continuing mine. I’m very interested to see how these next nine or so weeks go. I’m so excited to be graduating in the next couple weeks and move onto having a full-time job.

Some days I wish I had the opportunity to student teach in a high school setting to compare the differences in the age groups. I often find myself repeating many of the directions I give the students and having to discipline students more than I would like to. I feel that having to deal with some of these issues hold us back from moving forward in our material. However, we keep pushing through the material and moving forward to try and get through everything by the end of the year. This week we tried out a few new teaching ideas and got the kids moving around in the classroom. Many of the students were very enthusiastic about this opportunity and willing to participate more. Not only does this help create an authentic learning experience, but makes teaching that much easier and enjoyable. It was also nice to have this experience to relate back to in later lessons. Creating these types of experiences aren’t easy for teachers, but are well worth the time and effort when a teacher sees how much knowledge the students have learned.

Since I have done a lot of full-time teaching over the past few weeks, my co-operating teacher and I have started to try out co-teaching with each other. Since neither of us has had many opportunities to do this, we thought it would be a good time to try it out. We know how each other teacher and play off each other very well. It may be a different way of thinking or saying something out loud that gives he students a different view point throughout the lesson. The more we do it, the more we find the positives and negatives about this teaching style. If given the opportunity, I would definitely recommend trying out this type of teaching style. It’s something new and different and this may be the only time I ever get to do this.

Spring Break Fever is in the Air!

0Samantha Hessel, from Maribel WI. She will be licensed Special Education Cross Categorical Middle Childhood through Adolescence with an emphasis in learning disabilities, Autism Spectrum Disorders Certificate, and a Spanish minor. Her 18-week placement is taking place at Shattuck Middle School.

The kids are ready for a break and so am I! Being a full time teacher is exhausting! There are not enough hours in the day to get all of my materials prepared. Many times I feel two steps behind or I just make my deadline. Not only are there not enough hours in the day to get prepared, but there aren’t enough hours in the school day to teach my kids everything they need to be taught. I often feel like I need to teach 24 hours a day, 365 days a week, which is impossible. This sometimes leaves me feeling like I am failing my kids, but I have to know I am doing the best I can for them. When I look at how long the students are in school and how intense it is, no wonder they are tired!

On a positive note my kids just finished up their short story unit in my co-taught language arts class. At the culmination of this unit they had to compile a portfolio of elements project. There were fifteen possible items they could choose to complete based on the short story unit vocabulary. To accompany this project we read short stories as a class that they could use to complete this project or they could use their choice book. The students really struggled with the idea of this project and how to get started. At the first check point a week after we had assigned the portfolio many of the students were not on track. If they did have some started many times they weren’t right. We thought we were going to have to revamp the project because it was not going well. This caused me a lot of stress. I offered a lot of extra assistance to my students during my reading mediation class. The projects were due last Friday so my co-teacher and I graded them over the last week. I can’t speak for the both of us, but I was pleasantly surprised on how well the students did with the project. Two students that really struggled in the beginning did phenomenal jobs on the project. One of the students even did extra credit! Also at the end of the unit the students had to take a test. I am so proud to say that one of my students aced the test! It is these moments that make all the stressful, pull your hair out, crash in your bed at the end of the day moments worth it! To see them succeed and help them know how smart and successful they are brings so much joy to this job!

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