Student Teaching Experience
For my student teaching experience, I was placed at Hopewell Valley Central High School in Pennington, NJ. The school is located in a suburban area with several homes and businesses nearby. The school contains approximately 1,300 students in grades 9 through 12. Central High School contains mostly Caucasian, middle to upper class students. In the 2006-2007 School Report Card, it was estimated that 96.3% of the students spoke English at home as their first language.
The length of the school day is 7 hours long, beginning at 7:45am and ending at 2:45pm. The school day is broken up into 9 periods, each approximately 42 minutes in length. Most students have the same classes for the entire year; however, there are some electives that only last half of the year. In 2006-2007, the average class size at Hopewell High School was 21 students. This has grown slightly over the past year. For my student teaching experience, I am teaching two Advanced Algebra Honors classes (similar to Honors Algebra II) and two Functions, Statistics, and Trigonometry classes, which are both year-long classes. One of my Advanced Algebra Honors classes contains 26 students and the other has 19 students. Both of my Functions, Statistics, and Trigonometry classes contain 24 students.
In Advanced Algebra Honors, the students are mostly 9th and 10th graders and generally are between the ages of 14 and 16. In addition, I have one 7th grade student that comes from the middle school to take this class. The Functions, Statistics, and Trigonometry classes are primarily comprised of 11th and 12th graders between the ages of 16 and 18. Additionally, approximately 10.8% of students had an IEP (Individualized Education Program) in the 2006-2007 school year at the high school. In the classes that I am teaching, I only have one student with an IEP and that person is in one of my Advanced Algebra Honors classes.
I have found from my experience so far that many of the parents are very involved in their children’s education and want to be informed and updated of their progress. For the most part, the students aspire to do well in their classes and want to learn as much as they can. In 2006-2007, 26.5% of 11th and 12th graders took an AP class. In the class of 2007, there was a 97.9% graduation rate. Furthermore, 94% of graduates enrolled in a two or four year college to continue their education.
As mentioned earlier, I am teaching two Advanced Algebra classes and two Functions, Statistics, and Trigonometry classes. I teach all of these classes in the same room. In my classroom, I have two walls that contain white erase boards (instead of chalk boards). I have found that the students really like to write on these boards. There is only one computer in the classroom, which belongs to my cooperating teacher. Also, there is a projector in the classroom which has been installed within the last few years. The projector allows the teacher to view the TV and play DVDs as well as show documents on the computer, such as PowerPoint presentations. Overall, the atmosphere of the classroom is very inviting and geared towards learning. There are windows along one wall which help brighten the classroom. The desks are arranged in rows facing the front of the classroom and there are several motivational posters around the room.
I have noticed a few differences between the Advanced Algebra Honors classes and the Functions, Statistics, and Trigonometry classes. The students in the Advanced Algebra Honors classes are generally more responsible and almost always have their homework assignments completed. They work very well in groups and do well on tests and quizzes. They need a grade of an 85 or better in the class to continue on the honors track and most of them are meeting that standard. In the Functions, Statistics, and Trigonometry classes, there are more students who do not have their homework assignments completed and the grades on tests and quizzes generally tend to be lower compared to the honors classes. They also have a little more difficulty with group work because they sometimes tend to get off task. Overall, I am very lucky to be able to teach these different groups of students because it is providing me experience with both honors and regular tracked students.
Hopewell Valley Central High School