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Detroit Field Experience

Field Experience Reflective Summary

Pasteur Elementary School, Detroit, Michigan

Winter Semester, 1999


This semester I was placed at Pasteur Elementary School in Detroit. For my first two visits, I worked with Mrs. T. Smith, who teaches first grade math. For the remaining seven visits, I was in Ms. D. Thomasí classroom. Ms. Thomas is an Oakland University graduate and teaches first grade language arts.

Having never had a field in Detroit before, this semester was an interesting one for me. I must admit that on my first day, I was afraid. I have not spent much time in Detroit, especially driving there alone. But after I went a few times, I was as comfortable at Pasteur as at any other school. In fact, once inside the school, I was more comfortable. Everyone at Pasteur is extremely friendly. On my first day, I was given a guided tour of the school and introduced to every teacher. No school has ever done this for me before.

I was originally placed in Mrs. T. Smithís classroom. Mrs. Smith was a veteran teacher of about thirty years, and she intimidated me. She talked about other studentís abilities in front of the rest of the students, yelled a lot, and generally just scared her students into obeying. In fact, one experience comes to mind. I was helping a student who had just started at Pasteur the previous day. The child was extremely shy, not knowing anyone. Well, the students were working on a homework sheet, and she was just not getting it. So, I explained the concepts to her, and she understood just fine. Then, the social worker came to visit the classroom and was walking around observing students. She noticed that this new student was doing very well and pointed it out. Mrs. Smith responded by saying that the only reason the child even knew what was going on was because I had spent time helping her. She said this loudly in front of all the students. I feel this comment was extremely inappropriate, and it made the child feel stupid in front of her peers.

After two weeks, the school decided to move me to another classroom. I was told that it was because Mrs. Smith only taught math. However, I was then place in a classroom that taught only language arts, so I am still not entirely clear why they moved me. But, I am grateful that they did. My new cooperating teacher, Ms. Thomas, was a good teacher. She graduated from Oakland, so she was familiar with the requirements for my field. Also, she wanted the help, unlike Mrs. Smith. Ms. Thomas allowed me to run centers, to teach lessons to her class, to plan out activities, and to be active in her class. I feel that she taught me quite a bit in regards to teaching language arts and managing a classroom successfully.

I noticed that her students were wonderful for her, but when a substitute came in, their behavior changed drastically. I believe this is because she did not yell at her students, but talked to them in a calm voice. The substitutes generally just yelled at the kids and expected them to be silent the entire time. But, this classroom is not set up for the children to be silent all the time. They have free time that they can use in the centers, and they are allowed to talk quietly in these centers.

Overall, this was a good experience. I believe that I was suffering from culture shock during my first few visits. However, once I was put in Ms. Thomasí classroom, I quickly overcame this. I learned quite a bit during this field, and I feel that it was good for me to have been in Detroit. I do not think that I would like to teach there, but I was exposed to so many new things that I feel it was worthwhile.



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