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What Questions Did Pre-Service Teachers of Writing Ask?

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This week, for our last class session, I asked students in my Teaching of Writing class what questions they have about teaching writing in high school/middle school. I also allowed questions about teaching in general. The students were able to upload questions anonymously using a Google Form I created for them.

I’m always interested in what pre-service teachers want to know, so I am listing the questions here. Of course, in answer to these questions, I filled the students’ heads with nonsense, as we English Teacher Educators always do–at least if you believe Twitter. I’m not posting answers, just the questions.

In all seriousness, I hope my colleagues in English Teacher Ed and my colleagues who teach middle school/high school find these questions help them to better understand what at least some early-career teachers are thinking about.

Questions that Pre-Service Teachers Asked:

What was your worst experience with a parent/parents, and how did you handle it?

Do teachers tend to be clique-y? I’ve heard this a lot with my own teachers in the past.

How do you handle parent-teacher conferences? Do you have any advice with those? (And on a similar note, how do you deal with parents who are “out-of-control” i.e. start yelling at you or blaming you?)

What motivated you to stop teaching high school and move onto academia?

What do you do if you have a student who keeps acting out in class, refusing to do work, etc.?

Was there a time you struggled to get through to a student? How did you handle it?

You can bring a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. How can we as teachers deal with that reality?

How do you deal with a student who is mean to you or embarrasses you in front of the rest of the class?

If you could go back in time, would you do anything differently?

What are some things to watch out for that you may get in trouble for by your district/head of department?

Do you have any books/authors you suggest we check out which regard being a teacher or teaching ELA?

Do you have any tips for classroom management?

What authentic assignments did you give your students when you taught in high school? Which were successful/unsuccessful, and if they didn’t work, why not?

How can a teacher strike the balance of actually being the teacher in the classroom (and not a peddler of someone else’s ideas) while also being a respectful and conscientious teacher?

Have you ever taught in private school or know anyone that has? How much different is that than public school?

What advice do you have for us while we are still in college?

When you taught at public school, was it in NYC? How was your experience with it – what were some negatives (about the school, district, environment, etc.)?

What have you learned about teaching from COVID?

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