‘The most rewarding 10 weeks of my life’: A graduate’s farewell to student teaching

‘The most rewarding 10 weeks of my life’: A graduate’s farewell to student teaching

Written by Suzanna Moberg, senior teacher education student at DSU 

Since I began studying here four years ago, every moment of my time at Dickinson State University has been pretty memorable. From singing Spice Girls karaoke with two strangers who would soon become my BFFs at Welcome Weekend freshman year, to traveling across the country for various conferences and club activities, I am so grateful for all the opportunities being a student at Dickinson State University has provided me. But by far one of the most exciting and most rewarding opportunities that DSU gave me was my student teaching experience.

Student teaching is genuinely one of the hardest, weirdest, and craziest things I’ve ever experienced. No one really ever taught me how to respond when a student told me they don’t have to read Frankenstein because they already know it’s about a guy who hates fire and “just wants to vibe,” or what to do when my whole class started making dolphin noises as loud as they could, or how to react when two students started licking each other’s fingers in class. And no one really prepared me for how much I’d learn from my cooperating teacher, how quickly I’d fall in love with my students, and how difficult it would be to say goodbye to it all. Student teaching might have been weird and difficult, but it was also the most rewarding 10 weeks of my life.

I loved watching a student’s frustration turn into joy when they finally understood a new concept. I loved asking “so what?” questions to make students dig deeper into a text to think about the meaning behind the words. I loved watching shy students stand up in front of their speech class and deliver an entire speech without almost passing out! Every day, one of my students would remind me just why I chose the amazing profession that is being an educator.

Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, my time as a student teacher was cut short. I, like thousands of student teachers and teachers all across the nation, didn’t get a last day with my class. I didn’t get to thank my students for all that they taught me. I didn’t get to say goodbye.

It was pretty surreal when I got the notification from DSU’s Department of Teacher Education that my time at South Heart Public School was coming to a close. I didn’t want my experience to end after 15 weeks, and I sure wasn’t ready for it to be done after 10! Thankfully, I had an amazing cooperating teacher who made sure that my last day at South Heart Public School was still special. The teachers from the school hosted a “socially distanced” graduation ceremony for me and for another student teacher at the school. All of the faculty and staff gathered in the gymnasium (a safe 6 feet apart!) and sang “Pomp and Circumstance” as I got an air handshake from both the Principal and Superintendent and an air diploma from my cooperating teacher. I even got to move my air tassel!

I’m so grateful for a department and faculty at DSU who make tough decisions and look out for the safety of the students. While we haven’t had anything near a pandemic before, I have always known that the faculty and staff in my department are available and willing to assist me with anything I need. The teachers are always willing to be a listening ear, a mentor, or a counselor (even if that meant they were responding to emails until all hours of the night). As our school, our state, and our country navigates uncharted territory, the faculty in the Department of Teacher Education work tirelessly to create a plan for all of the students effected by school closures and a transition to online learning. They are in constant contact with the students in our department modifying assignments, extending deadlines, and ensuring that all of our needs are met and our concerns are addressed.

They also work incredibly hard to ensure some semblance of normalcy. Instead of canceling events that are important milestones in a student teacher’s time at Dickinson State University, they found a way to make online events so we’d still be able to present our final portfolios and participate in our pinning ceremony. Dickinson State University has even found a way to host a virtual Commencement ceremony for all graduates to attend remotely!

Senior year is supposed to be memorable, and, in true DSU fashion, mine sure was! I learned so much from my professors, from my cooperating teacher, and from my peers in the program. I truly believe that attending a small school allowed me to develop those close connections with the faculty and staff in my department, in the school as a whole, and with faculty at various area schools. There was never a time that my professors weren’t there to offer guidance or to be a listening ear when I needed someone to talk to. I feel more prepared than ever to enter a classroom of my own thanks to the wisdom and advice of my amazing cooperating teacher, my patient and encouraging University supervisor, and all of the other faculty and staff in my department.

I am so proud to be a Dickinson State University Blue Hawk and to be part of the legacy that this place has created. As I prepare to move to Nashville, Tennessee, to begin my teaching career at Hunters Lane High School, I know that Dickinson State has provided me with all the tools I need to be successful. No matter where this exciting journey called life takes me, I’ll never forget these people, this place, and that “Hawks are up!”