“I could not imagine being in an office just sitting in a corner job,” said Elliot Robles, a student teacher at Berkeley High School. He described the best aspect of his work being students’ energy. Robles has been working as a student teacher for Fatemeh Mizbani’s chemistry classes for a little over a semester.
“I wanted to be a teacher in high school, but my parents were very concerned about the pay, which is understandable,” Robles said. “After watching a lot of medical TV shows I thought (that) being a doctor would be alright.”
However, after he took his first biology class in college, Robles realized that being a doctor wasn’t for him. What did stick with him was the subject of chemistry. So, he enrolled in a teaching program that required taking related classes as well as his current position of working as a student teacher. Robles will continue being in this role until the end of this spring, which will put him on track to get a teaching certification. Next year, Robles plans on teaching chemistry at BHS.
Emma Zhao, another student teacher at BHS, experienced similar feelings from her parents about her becoming a teacher. Her grandmother, father, and mother all taught in some capacity when she was growing up, which was the initial reason Zhao wanted to start teaching. However, her parents still preferred her to move to a different profession. Nonetheless, along with influence from her family, Zhao found teaching to be fulfilling.
“When I first started student teaching, I was really scared of being in the classroom, because I was worried that I would make people uncomfortable, or the students wouldn’t really be able to understand me,” Zhao said. “But in every single student teaching experience that I’ve had, it’s been really wonderful in terms of how I’ve interacted with the students.”
Different from Robles’s program, after Zhao graduated college, she had to student teach for a while. From Oakland Technical High School, Washington Elementary School, East Bay Innovation Academy, to BHS, Zhao has been a student teacher for four years now, adding up to around 200 total hours of teaching. She plans to finally achieve a teaching credential by the end of the semester.
Kainoa Scott is grateful for his time as a student teacher at BHS because of the support he has received from fellow teachers. During the past five months, he’s been a student teacher for Lyndsey Schlax’s economics class, and has enjoyed the interactions with his students. Now, he’s focusing on using the support he has to learn how to become a better teacher.
“I (want) to just gain confidence in my teaching and get more comfortable with it (and) get more comfortable producing my own lessons and curriculum,” Scott said.
So far in the time he’s been a student teacher, Scott has found himself a lot busier than he used to be, due to the classes he is taking at St. Mary’s College along with student teaching. “I’ve never been this busy … There’s a lot of pressure,” Scott said.
Along with stress that comes from his busy schedule, dealing with student behavior is something Scott has come to dislike during his time as a student teacher. Robles shares these sentiments with Scott, saying, “I’m not about confrontation, so having to be stern is really tough work right now.”
For Jason Biloch, student teaching has allowed him to do two things he enjoys: teaching and music. Before working in Mr. Conn’s American Government class this semester, he worked at a nonprofit theater organization called Castro Valley Dramatic Arts Academy where he taught music lessons for about 10 years. Now Biloch finds himself wanting to either teach theater or world history.
“When I was in high school I wanted to be a history teacher,” Biloch reflected. “And then I was like, you know what’d be more fun, I want to be a musician … I got lucky and was able to teach things … like teaching theater or teaching music, but I also just really liked the teaching part of it,” Biloch said.
Student teaching is a required step for becoming a teacher, as it’s crucial to gain experience and learn how to teach. Although there are some struggles with being a student teacher, having the chance to interact with students and help learn has proven to outweigh the negatives for these student teachers.