Emilee Coladarci: Spotlight on Student Teaching


Courtesy of Emilee Coladarci

Coladarci is set to graduate from Pace's School of Education on May 20.

Katie Walsh, Managing Editor

It has been a semester filled with travel for senior Emilee Coladarci, as her alarm ticks off every morning at 6:15 a.m. and she heads off to Elmsford for her daily student teaching assignment.

The childhood education major with an English concentration began student teaching in the first semester of her junior year, however, as each semester goes by, the responsibilities and days spent at the school increases.

In Coladarci’s junior year, she worked with second-grade students once a week in the fall semester, where she mainly focused on discipline and keeping the students in-check. However, she switched over to work with 5th grade students once a week during the spring semester and picked up various learning techniques from the instructor.

The responsibilities slowly began to increase, as last fall, she made the trip to Elmsford on Tuesdays and Thursdays. She spent half of the semester working with the second-graders, where she became more hands-on with the children. The other half was spent working with the fifth-graders, where she assisted the teacher in putting together various units and plans.

Despite all all of those responsibilities, the biggest commitment for an education major is the last semester of their senior year. Coladarci spent every day of the past 16 weeks in the Elmsford classrooms. The first eight weeks of the semester, the prospective teacher was in charge of teaching math to the second-graders every day. This involved lesson planning, teaching instruction, creating assignments, and grading. The final five weeks of her undergraduate career were located in the 5th-grade classroom, where Coladarci has been working in small-group instruction with students who are struggling and is recording data on those students. 

Along with the responsibilities of being a student-teacher, the educator still had to manage her classroom studies as a student here at Pace.

“When it became every single day, I still had to do all my classes right after and I had to do my TPA, which is our certification,” Coladarci said. “So, it’s been tough going from teaching to class, but I’m going to have to do it in the future for my master’s degree, too. So it was like good practice.”

The upcoming graduate is currently enrolled in three additional courses, along with her student teaching schedule. However, she says that since many of her classes are high-level teaching courses, professors understand their schedules and tailor their coursework towards their student-teaching assignments. Despite that, Coladarci said she typically spends the majority of her free time in the Willcox Computer Lab lesson planning and completing coursework for her other classes.

In addition to the classroom time, educators are required to take two different certification tests. Coladarci opted to take the Content Specialty Tests (CST) and the Educating all Students (EST) exams during the January intersession, where she utilized handbooks to help her study.

She also had to take the Teaching Performance Assessment (TPA) over the spring semester and submitted it on April 25. Coladarci said Pace’s School of Education department plays a huge role in helping students study by offering zero credit courses that go over the various sections of the exams in chunks.

Although the opportunities for first-hand education practice is plenty, Coladarci already finds herself stressing over the financial strain of becoming a teacher. Since she spends her days at her student-teaching job, which are unpaid, and nights in classes, she doesn’t have much free time to pick up work hours. She says she finds herself picking up less hours on the weekend because she is exhausted from her weekday schedule. Coladarci also has to pay for travel, education exams and additional study materials, as well as teaching materials to help her prepare herself and her classroom.

Purchasing from Teachers Pay Teachers, an online marketplace that enables teachers to buy and sell original content and lesson plans with other teachers, has specifically drained the senior’s pockets.

Teachers Pay Teachers definitely takes a lot of my tiny paychecks because I’m lesson planning a lot and buying those resources really helps in the long run, but it does add up,” stated Coladarci.

Coladarci acknowledged that the demands of student-teaching have caused her to miss out on certain aspects of college life and senior events.

“I feel like I missed out on a lot,” she admitted. “I know a lot of college events start at like [9 or 10 p.m.] And honestly, I’m probably in bed by then because I have to get up early and my teaching requires all my energy. Also, when my friends are doing stuff like events during common hour or going out to eat or something, I can’t really go because I’m not on campus.”

One particular event she was upset about missing was the senior brunch on May 10, which she called a “rite of passage for seniors.” However, Coladarci was busy that Friday completing her last day of student teaching.     

Despite missing out on certain activities, Coladarci said that student teaching is the most rewarding experience she has had at Pace, and she will never forget all the students she had the opportunity to teach.

“I did run into some rough patches and I wanted to give up, but I kept going,” she said. “And honestly, I feel like I’m a lot better of a teacher because of that and I really grew as a person and an educator…I feel that without [student teaching] or doing it for any shorter period of time, I would be a totally different teacher. I actually feel prepared to go out on my own because of it.”