Student teaching struggles

Raeann Walquist ’20, assistant editor  

Education majors make up a large portion of the undergraduate population at LVC; education majors face a number of specialized degree requirements frequently in conjunction with an additional major such as English or history. The most rigorous of these requirements is the student teaching portion.  

Each education major must complete a total of 12 weeks of student teaching in a local school to fulfill their graduation requirements. However, with the recent shutdown of local schools and of LVC, many education majors find themselves wondering if they will be able to graduate with their class in the spring.  

Lauren Sigmon, a senior English and secondary education major, has completed nearly all of her graduation requirements with flying colors and was excited to complete her student teaching experience at Cedar Crest High School, teaching six different 12th grade English classes.  

“I am there every day from 7:30-2:45,” Sigmon said. “My responsibilities include teaching 6 different classes of senior high school students. My courses include Modern Literature 2, Honors Classical Studies, and Modern Literature. The average day includes 5 different preparations for courses based around books including Russian Literature stories, Crime and Punishment, Columbine, Violent Ends and We Were Liars.” 

So far, Sigmon’s experience has provided her with a variety of unique challenges that will prepare her for her real-life teaching experience after graduation.  

“I have found it incredibly challenging to teach 18-year-old high school seniors while I am only 21,” Sigmon said. “I also have had some strange experiences that many of the teachers in the school have told me are not typical. So far this semester, I have had to handle issues such as fights, alcohol poisoning, power outages, abuse, and especially pushback on teaching controversial issues.” 

While Sigmon has worked hard to persevere and gain the respect of her students, she is now faced with an even larger challenge of her pending graduation status. She has completed nine out of 12 required weeks of teaching and is working on online seminars and meetings in order to reach her requirements.  

“As for my graduation status, nobody is quite sure right now,” Sigmon said. “I am being told to continue helping in my class online and tracking everything I am doing to prove to the Department of Education that I have completed everything.”  

Despite all of her extra efforts to complete the remaining three weeks, it might not be enough for her to graduate with an education certificate.  

“I will definitely graduate in May, but potentially with just an English major,” Sigmon said. “I could go back and make up the weeks at a different time, but for now it’s a waiting game, unfortunately.”  

Despite her pending graduation status, Sigmon feels confident that the experience she has had at Cedar Crest prepared her for a career in secondary education.  

 “To an extent, I feel that we are never fully prepared for teaching until we are thrust into student teaching,” Sigmon said. “This career is definitely a ‘learning on the job’ experience. I feel that student teaching has been the best way for me to get comfortable with teaching and learn how to navigate the classroom.” 

 Looking back at her time at LVC, there are many things that Sigmon wishes she would have learned before beginning her student teaching experience.  

“I would have really liked a class period to discuss talking about difficult topics in the classroom and navigating pushback,” Sigmon said.  “When this happened to me, I felt completely lost and was not expecting the amount of hate towards me afterward. Having a seminar to talk about navigating this situation would have been an incredible help throughout this process.” 

While the future is uncertain for Sigmon and her fellow education majors, Sigmon remains hopeful and plans to find a teaching position in the SouthEast Region and plans to substitute teach until she finds a permanent position. She offers this advice to future education students at LVC.  

“Always trust your gut and don’t be afraid to voice your concerns for a student,” Sigmon said. “Don’t be too tough, but be tough enough that they learn from you. As a pushover and a people pleaser, it has been my greatest struggle to crack down on my students when they are being disrespectful. Show them that you care and will always be there for them. Make them remember you.”  

For more information on the education program go to https://www.lvc.edu/academics/undergraduate-studies/education/. Updates on LVC’s response to COVID-19 can be found at https://www.lvc.edu/life-at-lvc/health-safety/coronavirus-preparedness/.