by Connie Cave

Connie Cave's Secondary Education Portfolio

Professional Growth and Development

Summary Reflection

Summary Reflection of Student Teaching

           By Connie Cave              



If, I were to generalize about my experience as a student teacher, I would suggest that the emphasis be placed on “the teacher as the student” aspect of the experience. Student teaching is a setting that provides meaningful lessons on a moment by moment basis. In my attempts to bring meaningful learning to the students entrusted to me, I found myself being taught by my students.

From my students, I learned that every student has his or her own story.  There will be some students who walk through the door with a negative bias and some who will bring a positive mindset with them. It was my task to provide an environment for each of them that was firm, fair, consistent, and at times, compassionate. In that climate, each of my students hopefully was able to learn and grow and walk away with an improved notion of what a classroom experience can be and their ability to negotiate the path.

I have learned from my students that the tone of the classroom is vital to the success of the class as a group, a community. This tone is fragile in the first weeks, but is strengthened with time and a history of positive experiences. Time builds trust. Eventually, the class can have an “off” day and it is not the end of the world.  Every experience whether slightly negative or slightly positive has instructional value and all contribute to the overall growth of the students, teacher, and the class as a community.  It is the task of the teacher to capitalize on all the collective “teachable moments.”

 I have grown to understand that the teacher’s most essential role in the classroom is not to disseminate facts or even ideas. The essential role is to provide an environment where students will desire to learn.  A teacher must examine her choices based on what will foster interest, promote creativity, and reward effort. The key is respect and the trust that grows out of respect. 

I have  learned that students do respond to your caring and your patience.  It is okay to take a personal interest in your students.  A student “lights up” when you remind him of something he did well in an earlier experience. To allow your students to see you as someone who genuinely wishes them well is not an expression of weakness, but of humanity.  I was told by several of the older teachers in my setting to view the teacher/student dynamic as basically an adversarial one. I found this to be not only sad, but invalid. A student who ultimately failed in my American history class when returning his textbook stopped into my office and appeared to want to talk. He was a very shy reserved student, so he took awhile to say what was on his mind. Eventually, he asked, “You really like us don’t you? I thought so, because you are so patient. Most teachers aren’t very patient. I think you should teach, because you like us.” He made my day by sharing a part of himself with me. How sad if I had seen him as my adversary.

My students, in general,  taught me the absolute power of serendipity. Time after time in the classroom, the “wow” moments came not through my careful planning, but as an unforeseen response by the class to something I was sharing on that day. Knowing when to stop and allow the experience to happen was to share in a “pure” moment. This happened during our unit on civil rights when listening to the story of Emmett Till and again, when we read the soldier’s account about what he did during the massacre at My Lai in Vietnam. I think the impact of those two moments was felt in large measure by the entire class. I believe that my students  will remember those lessons into their adult years. On those days I was able to go home knowing, not just hoping, that the earth was rich and good.

What I found surprising about the student teaching experience was just how demanding and difficult it is in a practical sense. I was not prepared for the sheer volume of work. I was asked to do all of my own preparations and assessments, so my creative best had to take a back seat at times just to get the tasks done. How sad it is when the next quiz, the next lesson activity is decided based on time available rather than what would be the most effective teaching tool. Mentoring seems to hold more promise for creating an environment wherein the maximum benefit to students is achieved. 

I shall always be grateful for this experience. From this experience, I walk away convinced that patience does win the day. Every day that you arrive in the classroom, prepared, willing to make the necessary decisions, and practicing a sense of kindness is a day that you will be able to strengthen your relationships with each of your students. If each day you can convey that you do listen, that you do care, that you have high expectations for your students, that is a day that will collectively add to the positive environment of learning. Added together those days will create a learning environment that just gets better and better with time. My students enriched my life and I hope I have helped in their journey.

I am grateful to the generosity of both my collaborative teacher and my cooperating teacher.  Their advice and guidance were appreciated. I feel prepared for the task ahead of me through the lessons learned during student teaching.  Many thanks to these two individuals who shared their wonderful students with me.  To my students, I applaud each and everyone!!  Mrs. Cave


Learning Agenda

Learning Agenda

By Connie Cave



I am anxiously contemplating the conclusion of my academic hours needed to reach my goal of certification in secondary education.   I am, at the same time, mindful of the need to establish goals and plan for my learning agenda with respect to the near future.


In the near future I am looking to complete the two Middle School Courses, MLE 500 and MLE 502 offered as an elective in the MAT program at National-Louis University which will bring me to 25 hours of the 31 hours required for my MAT Degree.


I will actively look for a full time/part time teaching position for the fall of 2006.  If I am successful in acquiring a placement I will delay my next round of classes until the summer of 2007.  If I am unable to find a fall placement, I will work aggressively to secure a mid-year replacement position.  I will be looking for a position in either the middle school or high school setting.  I hope to find a position teaching American History, but will certainly be open to teaching World History or Civics.


I would also like to add sociology classes to my current nine hours in order to become highly qualified in Sociology.  I find as I do more independent study of my own that my interest in sociology has grown over time.  I am especially interested in the subjects of race, ethnicity, culture, and gender and would like to be prepared to teach those topics.

I found my course in multicultural education to be especially interesting and exciting.  I would like to share that excitement with my own students.


Membership in professional groups and associations is also a priority for the near future.  I am looking at groups like the NCSS and want to explore other groups as well.  I realize the need to be associated with peers within my profession in order to stay current on standards and practices.  I am sure I could benefit greatly from subscriptions to current professional journals as well.


At home, I have sincere intentions of bringing my own teaching resources into their best instructional use and organization.  I have many valued resources and artifacts.  Some of them need to be manipulated in order to bring them into their best light, e.g. enlargements, converted to overhead transparencies, filed for easy retrieval by subject, chronology, or theme, etc.  I also hope to work diligently on acquiring my own video library.  I was able to add several during student teaching and am aware of others I would like to include.  I will also work to preview more video resources available to me through my public library.  I made frequent use of my public library during my student teaching, and I will look forward to exploring more of its vast resources in the future.






Annotated Bibliography

See Attachment Below for Copy of My Annotated Bibliography.