Teaching the Teacher Wrap up
Outside in the still damp dirt, the tiny grass seeds are just beginning to push up into freedom. My hours of labor are paying off, and the hope of a lush green lawn inspire me. Yesterday, my student teacher wrapped up her final lesson, leaving students disappointed in her departure. But I thought of her this morning as I watered my lawn.
The young teachers we host in our classrooms each fall or spring begin with great promise. The role of the cooperating teacher is to foster that growth. Some teachers smother their learner, trying too hard to control the process. An overbearing, opinionated cooperating teacher can prevent the learner from exploring new techniques and discovering her own persona.
At times this semester, I felt that urge to control. She didn't do things the way I would, mostly because it just didn't fit my personality. She enjoyed creating powerpoints with fancy entrances and effects. My students would often turn to me and gauge my reactions, trying to rile me with questions like, "McNamar, did you really let her do this?" Her use of colored popscicle sticks created an opportunity for my students to tease her while simultaneously teasing me as well.
Some teachers are too uninvolved. They allow the learner to sink or swim, and fail to provide the needed support. Like my lawn, student teachers are often seeking our approval and feedback. To simply ignore them and let them grow up on their own is irresponsible. This was the other end of the spectrum which I struggled with as well.
Trying to strike the right balance is a process which requires the cooperating teacher and the student teacher to develop a trust and rapport. Luckily, my student teacher and I developed that quite early on.
After watching her grow and develop, I learned two important facts:
1. I enjoyed guiding a novice teacher towards a successful career.
2. In order for me to be successful, I would need someone who matched her desire to learn and her maturity.
And one final thought. Throughout the post I referred to "my" students. The appropriate term is "our" students. The world has a GREAT teacher headed its way.