Student Teaching: The Transition From Behind the Desk to in Front of It

By Jennifer Hill

At 5:45 a.m. the alarm clock rings. Although most college seniors would cringe at the sound, Tim Wall gets out of bed, ready to start his day. After a general morning routine, Wall begins his 25 minute drive to Rhinebeck High School. Seven hours of work lay ahead as Wall enters the classroom and starts to do what he loves, teach.

“Being a student teacher is definitely an important experience,” Wall said. “It’s not easy and you need to weed out the people who can’t do it. You couldn’t teach without doing this first.”

Wall first was placed at Marlboro Middle School, where his first day was far from easy.

“I was teaching an 8th grade class and turned my head to help a student,” Wall said. “Within about 10 seconds a fight broke out. Desks were pushed, punches were thrown and blood was all over the floor. One student had his nose broken and both were suspended. It was then I realized how easy it is to lose control.”

Tim Wall is ready to start his career as a teacher. Image courtesy of

Tim Wall is ready to start his career as a teacher. Image courtesy of

At 7:30 a.m. school starts. Wall observes a class and has a free period, which is used a planning time. After making sure that everything is copied and ready, Wall begins to teach his third period 11th grade honors class.

“They’re very intelligent,” Wall said of the 11th graders. “It’s only a five year difference between us but they treat me with respect.”

After observing another class, it’s about 10:30 a.m. and Wall eats lunch. He then observes an advanced placement class. Finally, he gets to teach again to his ninth grade class.

“The experience is very rewarding,” Wall said. “It’s all about how you teach it, how you sell the information. There definitely will be things that you don’t know but the most important thing is to follow through. If you tell a student you’re going to do something you have to do it, otherwise you’ll lose respect and show your weakness.”

Wall emphasized the importance of not making mistakes.

“Awhile ago I created a quiz and on one of the questions I didn’t have the right answer,” Wall said. “My mistake was quickly pointed out. I think after I teach for some time it will become easier but right now it’s important for me to stay organized and try to avoid all the mistakes I can.”

Later, Wall ends the day with two free periods. Instead of leaving early, Wall stays and continues to plan for the next day. He talks with his teacher about how he did that day and any improvements that can be made.

Greg Buggisch, Wall’s roommate, admits that at first it was hard for Wall to get used to the routine, but he sees a tremendous amount of dedication in him.

“He loves his teaching,” Buggisch said. “He’s become used to the routine and I can see him being a great teacher.”

When he gets home, after napping and eating dinner, Wall has about two more hours of preparation for the next day.

“Naps become your best friend,” Wall said. “Your entire social life changes and you don’t to see some of your friends.  But, it’s definitely worth it; it’s absolutely necessary and an awesome experience.”

When thinking of the future, Wall is happy about being a teacher.

“It’s a good job with benefits and steady hours,” Wall said. “More importantly, I can have family. My kids will be in school at the same time I am and I won’t have to travel away from them.”

Wall taught at a middle school and a high school and said he isn’t sure of which he prefers.

“I’m more concerned with getting a job than where I’m going to teach,” Wall said.

When asked if he was sad about leaving, Wall admits that he has formed an attachment to the students but he’s ready for the next step.

“I’m ready to go,” Wall said. “It gets frustrating to be in someone else’s classroom. It has nothing to do with the teacher, the kids or the material. I just want my own classroom to have my own rules and routine. The whole experience feels bittersweet.”


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