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Wednesday, December 12, 2018

A Teacher of Teachers

At our school we host many teacher candidates. These teachers in training are a gift to our school because they bring wonderful enthusiasm, good energy, new learning, and a zest for teaching well.

As hosts it's our job to help these educators learn the craft of teaching. Their universities and our state has create positive paths towards teaching well. It's a rigorous program that includes subject area tests, practicums of varying lengths, university courses, and portfolios.

As teachers of teachers, much of the program is planned including teaching lessons, the take-over week, creating a unit of study, managing transitions, observing teaching, and spending time day after day in the classroom to learn what to do. There are parts of the program that are less managed and left up to the discretion of the teacher. As a teacher who works in a team model, we essentially shared the teacher candidate during the day as they learn to teach each subject area.

As I think about what works best as teachers of teachers, I identify the following activities:

  • Take the teacher candidate on a tour of your school introducing the candidate to colleagues and important school spaces.
  • Introducing the teacher candidate to an overview of the curriculum map and schedule for the time that they will be there.
  • Reviewing expectations.
  • Planning together to fit in the teacher candidates' important expectations such as observations and take-over days/weeks.
  • Discussing with the teacher candidate what they are most interested in learning about and getting involved with.
  • Checking yourself to make sure that you are modeling the best that you can do each and every day and also being honest with the teacher candidate about the challenges the job holds even for a seasoned teacher.
  • Increasingly providing the teacher candidate with more and more responsibility. Coaching the teacher candidate ahead as they teach many lessons and lead projects throughout the term.
  • Meeting with the teacher candidate regularly to review their efforts and schedule upcoming events.
To be a teacher of teachers is a role that requires good organization, time, and care. It's a job that educators become better at the more that they do it. 



Team Building

Often teams face challenges simply because no one has taken the time to think about the team and what it needs to be strong.

Like anything in life, teams need nurturing, support, reflection, revision, and refinement.

We're all part of multiple teams. Some of those teams may be stronger than others. No matter how strong or how needy a team is, all teams require care, attention, and evolution.

I was thinking about this when I realized a team member was distanced from a team activity. I wondered why. Did the person receive an invitation? Did the person feel welcome? Was the event scheduled in a way that included staff with her schedule, priorities, or interests? I'm not sure, but as I thought about it, it seemed to me that the team member was left out for some reason, and that this didn't feel right to the individual.

Teams occur at home, in the neighborhood, with extended family, at work, and in the community. We can't play a significant role on every team. Instead we can play strong roles in some arenas while we probably take a back seat in other spheres. No one can do it all or be it all.

We all have work to do to be a good team member and to foster successful collaboration, support, and teamwork with the teams we are apart of. This is a good consideration, one I'll think about as I work with my classroom, grade-level, and home team tomorrow. Onward.

Challenge Week

I'm learning a lot this week. It's been a cavalcade of challenges resulting in lots of new and renewed learning. What have I learned?

  • It's imperative to be mindful of the task at hand. When people deviate too much from that task, our work is not as good.
  • Don't overload the students--no matter what the expectations are, when we push too hard, students' enthusiasm, confidence, and engagement wanes.
  • Keep your eyes on the main priorities of the job which may mean that you have to put other interests, opportunities, and events aside.
  • Work with a positive demeanor and outlook--there will always be challenges and it does no one any good to be cantankerous.
  • Keep your expectations reasonable--no one is superman or superwoman.
  • Be clear about expectations and keep to a positive routine in school as much as possible. 
Don't give up, keep working for what you believe and know to be right and good. Onward.