For the past 8 weeks, I have had the privilege of having a preservice teacher interning with me. I haven’t had an intern for almost 5 years, but the experience has been similar to others. I learn a lot from them. I learn about what new teachers know and don’t know, and I learned a lot about my own teaching style. A few reflections on the topic:
1. Preservice teachers have a lot more conceptual knowledge than I did when I started. Perhaps I forget, but I think my student teacher had a far better foundation in teaching philosophies and strategies than I did. She had a firm grasp on a lot of the jargon that is thrown around in education today.
2. Some of this foundational knowledge is outdated or controversial. I found this to be a bit troubling. I felt there were specific sins of omission. For instance, she knew Bloom, Marzano and Wiggins very well, but knew almost nothing about the flipped classroom model, blended learning, project-based inquiry, or RtI. She was aware of multiple intelligences and differentiation, but knew very little about digital citizenship. It made me wonder if some of these are too recent to teach in undergrad classes, yet at the same time, feel these are concepts students should at least be familiar with, as they are common conversations in schools today.
3. I learned that there are a lot of ways to skin a cat. Sure, I am a connected educator and actively seek new ways to do things, but very little of my daily collaboration connects to specific literature selections. In other words, I do a lot of work with changing instruction, but I still envision my mythology unit a certain way. My student teacher demonstrated completely different lessons for some of my material, and it reminded me that I still have a comfort zone for certain things that I should break free from.
4. I learned a lot about my students. As a veteran teacher, and a male, I think my experience with students is something that I take for granted. Watching the students interact with her in a completely different way was interesting. Some quiet students (for me) opened up more for her. Some of the students who behaved well for me, gave her a lot of trouble. Some great students did not work as hard for her, and some struggling students worked much harder. It reminded me that what I have come to expect from students is not always the whole story. It also helped to explain why some of my colleagues have such a different experience with certain students that I do. It was good to see how some students responded to a different approach.
5. I learned a lot about how I use time, particularly because I saw my intern swamped all the time. While she was probably wondering how I keep up with everything, it allowed me to reflect a lot on the same question. I realized that I block time with a specific purpose, and try to complete certain tasks in a specified time period, rather than picking away at them when I have time. She needed to learn how to manage time and work, and it helped me to identify strengths and weaknesses in what I do as well.
The final part I learned not necessarily from her, but as a result of her being here. I really missed teaching every day. The extra time was nice for a while, but I honestly can’t wait to get the classes back again next week. As opportunities should come to me in the future, I will need to remember just how much I love being a classroom teacher. I hope I can always do this in some way or another wherever life eventually takes me. For now, I have a ton of new ideas and strategies to use for the next year, and I am looking forward to it.
P.S. If you have followed this blog regularly, you may be aware that I have been working on my dissertation. I am happy to report that I have finished all of the chapter writing and it is now in revision. I should defend in late March or April, and earn my doctorate in May. I’m very excited to be finishing. Thanks for your patience and support.