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
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.