I have had quite the amazing adventure over the last nine months. When I first stepped into the classroom at Hornsby Middle School, I wasn’t sure exactly how to feel. While I felt confident that my experiences as a camp counselor, violin teacher, and substitute teacher had adequately prepared me for student teaching, I was still a wee bit apprehensive. What if teaching didn’t end up being what I envisioned? What if I didn’t know the content well enough? What if my classroom management skills weren’t ready to address the most challenging of situations? These are questions that I imagine pop into the heads of most student teachers.
Only three days of my student teaching practicum remain. In September, I will begin my professional career in the very same building. This year has been incredibly challenging – from teaching full-time in the classroom and taking graduate classes in the evenings, to teaching violin and trying to find time to call my parents, exercise, and play tennis.
There are several people I need to thank for all that they have done for me.
I would never have made it to this point if not for my parents, Nina and Tom Pfeiffer. They have loved, nurtured, and supported me from the day they picked me up from the airport. I am tremendously proud to be their adopted son, and they are not only my family, but also my closest friends.
Then, of course, there are the many teachers who inspired me, challenged me, supported me, encouraged me, and I would be remiss not to mention put up with me.
Ms. C – Violin Mrs. N – 2nd grade Mrs. T – 5th grade Mr. P – 6th grade
Ms. G – 7th grade Ms. H – 9th grade Mr. V – 9th grade Mr. R – 10th grade
Ms. H – 11th grade Ms. F – 11th grade Mr. E – 12th grade Dr. G – 12th grade
Prof. A – FY Prof. P – FY, SY, JY, SR Prof. V – FY Prof. V – SY, JR Prof. S – GS
Prof. C – GS Prof. R – SY, GS Prof. H – GS Prof. B-A – GS Prof. C – GS Ms. W – GS
My friends, especially those closest to me, have always fiercely supported my dreams and aspirations of teaching. While others have remarked that I am wasting my abilities, those who truly know me have given nothing but motivation and encouragement.
Perhaps the most influential person over the past nine months has been my cooperating teacher, Mrs. E. From the moment I met her, I was struck by her refined grace, her wisdom, her compassion, and her rare, intuitive teaching. The field of education has truly been lucky for the last 38 years.
Inside the classroom, she continually challenged me to innovate and improve. At the same time, she supported me every step of the way. I grew a great deal during my time with her by observing her and absorbing her honest, clear, and meaningful feedback. I became more flexible, which was difficult for someone as ‘Type A” as me. She also taught me how to more effectively differentiate my instruction for all students. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, she, by example, showed me how to simply slow down and take things day by day.
Mrs. E is not just my mentor, but also my friend. She invited me to her home for Thanksgiving, attended my violin performace in February, accompanied me to afterschool functions, and made sure to always call me at home when I was feeling ill. We have plans to enjoy some good summer barbecue after I graduate.
Lastly, I want to thank my students! They were incredible and never ceased to amaze me with their enthsusiasm, knowledge, curiosities, and hobbies. It was truly a pleasure to watch them grow this year. When they first stepped into our classroom, we had to teach them how to open their lockers. Now, they are ready to tackle the 7th grade.
A few days ago, I asked all of my students to respond to an anonymous survey that I created that would allow them to reflect on their experiences with me as their teacher. I asked them to be honest and open in their responses. The feedback that I received was incredibly candid, positive, and inspiring. My students truly engaged with my lessons and instruction. At the same time, they offered me valuable and sincere suggestions for improvement. This may sound corny, but my heart is full! I truly believe I have found the right profession.
I have included some of my students’ responses (anonymous) below. Their typos (and mispellings of my name) have been left intact.
“I would like to thank Mr. Pheiffer for all he has done for me and all he will do for his future classes”
“I just want you to know you were a great teacher, I felt that you actually cared for us and you did. I hope you have a wonderful career as teacher”
“I think Mr. Pfeiffer is a truly excellent and fun teacher. He make all of us feel welcome and included. Plus, he always asks if anything is wrong, if we feel unhappy. I would love to have Mr. Pfeiffer as my teacher again”
“It was nice to experience Mr. Pfeiffer teaching us just by himself. He really proved himself to us. From his seriousness at times that we need to focus but is also super fun during other times”
“My favorite activity from Western Expansion was probably building the marshmallow tower. I liked this because it was an entertaining and hands-on activity which was very fun and taught us just as much as cornell notes did. Also, MARSHMALLOWS!”
“My favorite activity for the “Western Expansion” unit was the Socratic Seminar because we got a chance to say things for ourselves and express our own opinions”
“I liked watching the Sister Suffragists video from Mary Poppins because it was funny and I like show tunes. I also enjoyed watching the Lewis and Clark movie”
“I enjoyed when he played the fiddle for the songs they would play out west and the square dancing because it was a good way to get involved in the class and I love doing interactive activities”
“My favorite activity was the op-ed. (I surprised myself writing that this was my favorite activity). I felt like I got a lot out of it and learned a bunch. The skills that I learned doing it will be useful later on and I liked being under pressure with all of my projects and working my way out of it. I felt very productive and successful doing it and the pressure of the work was not unhealthy, but I feel as if it helped me get an experience of having to do a lot of work will be like. Thanks Mr. Pfeiffer”
“Mr. Pfeiffer, thank you for everything. I truly appreciate what you have done for us. In your new classroom, you should bring in your violin sometime. They would love it!! We are all going to miss you!!!”
The thing that I liked about Mr.Pfeiffer’s teaching is when he doesn’t forcefully call on me without me raising my hand. Even though I raise my hand sometimes, most teachers do that because they think that I am not listening, but I really am”
“My only comment is thank you. You and Ms. E made history awesome for me! In 4th grade and 5th, i despised it and always hated going to it. This year, I look forward to do more”
“I enjoyed Mr. Pfeiffers history class more than any other history class because we do fun projects and not just lectures and reading out of a textbook”
“My favorite activity from the Western Expansion unit was doing the news broadcast about a certain territory. It was fun to work with other people and make the channel our own”
“I enjoy Mr. Pfeiffer’s class because he makes jokes or is unintentionally funny. He also enjoys being around us”
“He is a wonderful teacher and his future students are lucky to have him”