Student teacher feature: Matt DeJong

Rachel Mulder – Staff Writer

Where are you currently teaching? What grade or subject are you teaching?

Right now, I am finishing up my time at Unity Christian High School, where I am teaching AMattpplied Geometry, Geometry and Algebra 2. These classes consist primarily of sophomores and juniors, but I also have a few freshmen and seniors.

Where was your first placement and what grade/subject did you teach there?

My first placement was at Remsen Union High School, where I taught freshmen, sophomores and juniors Geometry, Algebra 2 and Precalculus.

Were your experiences anything like what you thought they’d be?

My experiences entailed a few things that I expected, but there were also a lot of aspects that I did not predict. For example, since I am unfamiliar with much of northwest Iowa, I had no clue that Remsen was such a small town. I was expecting my public school placement to have bigger class sizes and larger graduating classes, but I had smaller class sizes than I do at Unity, including a class of only three students. At Unity, I knew that they were a one-to-one school (all of their students have laptops in class), so I knew that there would be an emphasis on using technology in the classroom. However, I did not expect that finding productive things to do on the computers would be so difficult. There is a lot of educational stuff online for students to do, but finding things that are beneficial and motivating for students was not as easy as I expected.

How have your student teaching experiences reaffirmed your decision to be an education major?

My student teaching experiences definitely reaffirmed that I want to be a high school math teacher. I love getting to know students and teaching them along the way, and I especially like to challenge them to think in ways that they typically are not used to doing in math classes.

What has been the best or most memorable experience of student teaching? 

The most memorable event of my student teaching happened on the first day at Remsen. I spent the whole first day observing my cooperating teacher, and she introduced me to each class. After I said a few things about myself, I allowed the kids to ask me anything they wanted to. Almost every class asked one or two basic questions, but my second period class, which had a few more energetic students, got to know almost everything about me in under ten minutes of questioning. Right away I knew that class was not shy.

What is one piece of advice or something you’ve learned from your student teaching?

My piece of advice to other education majors who are going to student teach soon is to ask the teacher for a little bit of freedom. Once you start planning lessons on your own and no longer stick to what your cooperating teacher has always done, you will finally start to feel like a teacher. A little bit of hand-holding on their part is good for a while, but freedom is essential if you want to feel prepared for your first year of teaching.

Have you been looking for jobs?  What are your plans for after graduation?  

I have been looking for jobs all over the country, and my fiancée hopes to find a job wherever I land a teaching position. Right now I have a few leads, but nothing is set in place yet. I hope to spend the summer here in Sioux Center, get married in July, go on a honeymoon and get ready to move to wherever God calls us.

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