15 weeks is a decently long time in any sense of time. However, that length of time can impact a person differently depending on what occurs during that period. Student teaching was a 15 week long experience during which I was able to leave an impact on my students at Red Lion, and where they left a huge impact on me.
Initially, I thought student teaching would be a time to develop instructional skills. How do I prepare fun lessons that will teach my students what they need to know? I was certainly able to develop in this way. As time went on, it became easier to be creative and use multiple hands on techniques of teaching. I didn't have to utilize only one method of presenting information. This was more than learning how to differentiate instruction as we did in AEE 412. Yes, that was helpful. But having classes that each have their own dynamics and own set of interests forces you to adapt to these individuals. Not every student is going to learn best by listening to a lecture. Some students don't like certain hands on activities either. Learning what each student learned best from was crucial in order for me to be effective.
When my land lady (Red Lion's art teacher) asked me what my most important take away was, I told her the importance of building connections. When I started, I realized that rapport was important. However, I had a difficult time realizing just to what extent it was important. Before I had fully established connections with my students, they didn't have any buy into me. Why should they learn from a girl that they don't think cares about them anyway? I wouldn't blame them. By talking to them individually and learning about their lives, I was able to build a connection between us. This allowed them to actually learn. I never guessed exactly how important it was though.
Building connections was something that completely transformed my student teaching experience. If I hadn't connected with my students, they wouldn't have learned from me. In addition, I wouldn't have learned so much from them. Those connections are what allowed me to learn about them and what makes them tick. It's also what made it so hard to leave.