Tuesday, 23 April 2019
Associate & Student Teachers - Partners in Growth
Last term I was an Associate Teacher for a student teacher for 4 weeks. Because of being involved with the MDTA, I was observed and given feedback regularly. As a result I feel I grew quite quickly and gained confidence in my practice and my appreciation and ability to use criticism/feedback to grow. I was excited to have a student teacher because this was a great opportunity to continue to grow, as well as reflect on how far I have come in 3 and a bit years.
I feel, like a student teacher, I was completely thrown in the deep end as I was given no 'how-to' guide or suggestions of how to actually be an AT. Of course this has disadvantages, but I tried to embrace it. Using the information from the university handbook and discussions with my student teacher, I feel I did pretty well to support him in his first placement, even though he was only with me for one Senior class. He had already identified goals for himself, and had actually already taught a couple of years overseas, so we decided straight away he would join me in the deep end quite quickly - this is something upon reflection he said he was grateful for, to just get in there as soon as possible and actually teach. This was something I also appreciated when I was a student teacher - AT's who essentially handed their classes over but were supportive in the process.
He also said he appreciated the honest feedback and feedforward I gave him. After each of his lessons I took time to comment on his strengths and identified possible work ons. I felt proud when he took the feedback on board and strengthened both his strengths and weaknesses in future lessons. If I were to have a student teacher again, I would like to have these post lesson discussions as more of a conversation. I feel I could have facilitated a conversation, by asking probing questions to encourage further reflection, rather than the student teacher listing their strengths/work ons and then me doing the same. Next time, I would like to guide the student teacher to consider additional work ons than they initially identified and then we could discuss how and why that area could be adapted (as opposed to me describing how and why).
I think only being with him for one class was quite difficult, as this meant we didn't have many opportunities for conversations unless they were planned. Having more time with a student teacher would have supported me to give feedback on their growth, see them teach in different lights, as well as further possible impromptu conversations. I also think it would have supported the student teacher to develop a closer relationship with their AT, which may have encouraged more open/honest questions and discussion.
Observing his teaching really made me notice everything I have learnt along my journey so far. Things I take for granted that I consider naturally, and have forgotten that I do (albeit how well!). Transition times between activities, the use of open ended questions, and the use of student names for instance. The biggest thing I realised, was the understanding about and of NCEA I have - I should have spent more time explaining what NCEA actually is, and the importance of assessments and hand in protocols for example (I certainly did not understand any of this information as a first year teacher!). I certainly still have a long way to go as a teacher myself, but having a student teacher increased my confidence in my own growth and was a great reminder of some of the basics. I can't wait to have another in the future to support this growth further, and not to mention learn further activity ideas and resources!