Walking into my classroom on the first day of school, I was a bundle of nerves. Would they like me? Am I smart enough? Can I really do this? My feelings on my first day of supervised fieldwork probably mirrored those of the first graders in my class. However, those doubts and fears soon faded away as I saw all of those bright, smiling faces enter the room.
Supervised fieldwork is a requirement of every program at Bank Street, though the setting and amount of placements may differ depending on your particular program. In the Museum Education – Childhood program, we are required to do one semester of supervised fieldwork in two classrooms and one semester of supervised fieldwork in a museum. Each supervised fieldwork setting requires you to make the commitment of being in the classroom and/or museum 3 days a week. During fieldwork, an advisor at Bank Street will be assigned to you and will observe you in your classroom a few times during your placement. Additionally, you will meet with your advisor and conference group (comprised of other students completing fieldwork) weekly to discuss your experiences during your placements and other topics of interest that come up. Having that guidance and support from your advisor and the shared experience with the conference group is extremely helpful when venturing into fieldwork.
I was placed in a first grade class in an independent school for my first student teaching placement and was surrounded by a group of educators that practiced what was preached in many of my Bank Street courses leading up to my first day in the classroom. My cooperating head teacher, with her 15 years of teaching experience, knew the first week of school is a transition period, especially for the classroom I was put in. The head teacher expressed that she wanted the first day of school to be about the students getting acclimated with their classroom, feeling comfortable and safe in the environment and with each other, and engaging in activities they were interested in (be it block building, cooking, or art). I enjoyed walking around the classroom and getting to know the children. I marveled at their creativity and self-expression and was transfixed listening to all of the information they were sharing about themselves with me.
For my second placement, I was moved to a fifth grade class in a public school. The enthusiasm the kids had for learning, similar to the children in my first placement, was contagious and reminded me once again why I chose to make the switch to a career in education and to pursue my degree at Bank Street College. The first day of any new endeavor is usually nerve-wracking, but setting those feelings aside and bringing your energy to the classroom will lead to a more enjoyable and engaging experience, which is what the students will remember long after the first day.