During my student teaching experience I shared the classroom with my mentor teacher. For the first two to three weeks I was shocked at how little was expected of me in the classroom. When the children left school for the day, I was told I was done too. I was shocked that this was all that I had to do for my student teaching experience; show up, listen and learn, and then go home.
By the end of week three, the teacher and I had developed a good rapport and the students were also developing a positive relationship with me. Over lunch one day this teacher confessed that this was her first mentorship of a student teacher. Other teachers who had done mentoring before had advised her to be caged in sharing ideas in case I, or any other teacher for that matter, might steal them.
My Masters in Education was a quantitative Evaluation of the Student Teaching Experience of student teachers who had attended and been placed in positions by Sacred Heart University. The study was interesting in that it revealed how unwilling mentor teachers were in sharing their classroom and teaching ideas and experiences with student teachers.
Norwalk Community College in Connecticut has a wonderful Early Childhood Development program of study which involves a lab school. I have always thought that using a lab school was a wonderful way of helping beginning teachers become better teachers. Supervision, observation and advice given to students who would then observe how the professionals do it can only help build a new teacher’s confidence and equip them with a bag of classroom tricks that they can use when they need them.
I would love to see Colleges who currently have teaching programs implement lab schools on their campuses. Also I think it would be beneficial if the various states required mentor teachers to reach a certain standard before they could mentor. Just because they can teach young students does not mean they can teach best practice techniques to student teachers. Also teachers should be encouraged to share ideas about classroom management, organization and discipline techniques. It is about passing the torch, not a personality contest.
Here are a few classroom organization techniques I used in my Middle School Language Arts class back in the mid nineties. Hopefully for any elementary or middle school language arts teachers reading this there might be a nugget of information that might help make the teaching day go by more easily. I will discuss the various ways I implemented the charts etc in subsequent posts. Also I have attached some links with suggestions for organization, discipline and the issue of a teacher’s health.