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Skidmore College

A day with Ms. Goldstein, my student-teacher alter ego

December 3, 2019
by Hillary Goldstein '20

As a senior, fall semester can be an exciting time — new classes, special senior events and the excitement of my last year at Skidmore.

For senior education studies majors, this excitement is amplified because we get to escape from college reality and go back to a simpler life in elementary and middle school for a semester.

Student teaching is a required part of my major. (I am also pursuing a second major in health and human physiological sciences.) Student teaching is also a capstone on everything that we education studies majors work toward and aspire to be.  

From the early mornings, to prepping periods, parent phone calls and faculty meetings, we are fully engrained in the daily life of a teacher — all day, five days a week. By the end of our placements, we are leading the classroom by ourselves.

We spend seven weeks in one placement and then switch to a new grade and school. I just finished teaching in a third-grade Integrated Co-Teaching (ICT) classroom at Ballard Elementary School in South Glens Falls and will be switching to sixth grade at Schuylerville Middle School soon.

Hillary Goldstein

It has taken a lot of learning and support from amazing Skidmore professors to get me here. Perhaps the biggest adjustment of all has been the nonstop nature of it.

It's equal parts exhilarating and exhausting, and I have loved every minute.

Here is a look at what one day in the life of a third-grade student teacher is all about.

7:08 a.m.


My alarm buzzes off to the sounds of Jason Derulo singing “Want to Want.”

7:10 a.m. 

Wake-up call

My friend Emily, who is also student teaching, texts me to make sure I’m up and ready to teach.

7:40 a.m.

Time to go!

I leave my apartment, yell hi to Emily across the parking and put on some popping tunes for my drive.

Hillary Goldstein in a classroom

8 a.m.

Paper jam

I arrive ready for the day at Ballard Elementary School with my L.L.Bean tote bag, lunch box, Dr. Seuss mug and my teaching ID.

Once in my classroom, I work with my two cooperating teachers to prep and discuss our plan for the day. Oh, and the copy machine always seems to jam right before the students come.

9 a.m.

Time to teach

My third graders arrive bubbling with energy and bursting to tell me stories from the night before. Every morning, a student and I chat about the different flavors of Cheez Its. We’re trying to rate them all.

9:20 a.m. – 10 a.m.

Word time

We go over the morning work and practice fun ways to learn spelling and phonics patterns. This usually involves a lot of clapping and jumping as they spell out words.

10 a.m.

Snack time

It is finally snack time (all of us need more snacks in our lives), which also means it is time to read aloud a class favorite, “The Wild Robot.” My students remind me to read in a robot voice.

10:20 a.m.

Math time

After a guided dance workout to get our energy out, we sit down focused and ready to learn math. So far, we have studied arrays, multiplication, division and time.

11:10 a.m.

Specials, prep and lunch

The students head off to their special area classes and then lunch. It is “free” time for me, which actually means attending a meeting, talking to my cooperating teachers about a lesson and trying to fix a paper jam in the copier …

Me with my supervisor and other education majors

My supervisor, fellow education majors and I

2:40 p.m.

Almost there

It’s time for recess! This is one of the best parts of my day because I get to talk and bond with my students while playing games with them.

3 p.m.

Pack up chaos

My students are ready to go home. Making sure everyone has their backpack, lunch box, water bottle and homework and knows which bus they are on is always an adventure!

3:15 p.m.

Clean and Clorox time

The students are gone, but that doesn’t mean the teachers are. The first thing I do is take a container of Clorox wipes and wipe down every surface in the classroom. Then I spend some time prepping for the next day.

4:30 p.m.

Back to college life

After driving back to Skidmore, I change back into college clothes and take a break from elementary school to head to a Skidmore Hillel board meeting.

5:30 p.m.

Student Teaching Seminar

After a full day of teaching and meetings, the senior education majors meet once a week for a three-hour seminar class. We share stories from our placements and learn about different teaching techniques and strategies.

College workbooks

9:30 p.m.

Pack up and call it a day

I’m finally back in my apartment, and it’s time to make my lunch, pack my bag, pick out an outfit for tomorrow and finish any last-minute grading or reading I have.

11 p.m.

Time for sleep

Although it might seem early for some college kids, it's time to sleep so I am rested and ready to do it all again tomorrow!

Yes, it’s been a long day, but student teaching has been one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had. This is real-life practice for my real-life future. And thanks to Skidmore, it's truly invaluable.

About the Author

Hillary Goldstein

Hillary Goldstein is from Colchester, Connecticut, and studied education and health and human physiological sciences at Skidmore. When she's not baking heaps of Challah for charity, she's changing young lives as a school teacher.