Thursday, June 16, 2016

Training the teacher

I've always thought that a good way to influence change and transformation in education would be by taking on a student teacher. I know from my experience that an Associate teacher shapes who you become as a teacher. A supportive learning environment where you can take risks, make mistakes and reflect openly is ideal.

I knew that I wanted to provide this environment to the student teacher I took on this year. To prepare for this, I reflected on my student teacher experience and initial thoughts with my mentor. This was helpful to pinpoint the purpose of the placement for both parties. I saw this opportunity as a learning experience for me too and a chance to reflect on my own teaching practice.

From our first meeting, I made it clear that my philosophy of teaching was based on relationships and that it was okay to spend time getting to know the students. I didn't want my student teacher to feel the need to teach right away. She spent the first week just being part of our class, talking to students and finding out about them. Relationship building proved to be the most important thing she did all placement. It was the foundation on which she built her teaching.

My student teacher drove the placement. It was her placement so she needed to do what she needed to develop. Interestingly enough we ended up in a team-teaching situation for quite a lot of the time. Students saw us working together and respected us both in our teaching capacity. They saw us as learners too.

So my reflection on this experience has led to me seeing the potential for teachers in training and beginning teachers being in team-teaching partnerships. For what better way to learn? It's collaborative, reflective and benefits students. For me as a more experienced teacher, it taught me to let things go, how to ask reflective questions and how to address non-negotiables. We want our students to work collaboratively together; we encourage tuakana-teina so it makes sense to model this as teachers. Plus it was fun! Lot's of laughs were had, successes shared. And I'd do it all again.