Monday, October 11, 2010

Learning From A Student Teacher

I've had the great pleasure of working with a student teacher, Justine, for the past five weeks. She is completing a four month practicum at the school. In order to give Justine a diverse experience, the math department at my school decide that it would be best if she worked with a number of different teachers. She's working with three different teachers and I'm fortunate enough to be one of those teachers.

Justine spent the first couple of weeks observing in my grade 12 university bound math class. She helped students who had questions and taught the occasional lesson. As we approached the end of the first unit I asked her if she would be comfortable teaching Unit 2? I wanted her to plan and present the entire unit as if it were he own class. I remembered back to my own experience as a student teacher and how useful it was to be able to try new things and to feel like the class was my own.

So far Justine has taught for just over a week and her progression has been incredible. I'm amazed at how much a person is able to learn when they are fully submersed in a given subject or topic.  I honestly believe that the best way to learn is by doing. This is certainly true for something like teaching but I think this can be generalized to learning in all areas. I'll have work at finding more hands-on and engaging activities for my students.

Watching somebody else teach has allowed me to think a lot about teaching. Why don't we as professionals do this sort of thing more often? I think by watching others we can gain so much insight about how others teach and the tools and tricks they use. Working with a student teacher has allowed me to think about the good things I do, the bad things I do and how I can improve. It's great to see new ideas, different approaches and unique methods. I guess sometimes I get bogged down with the routine of teaching and find that I don't often think about all of the mechanics. Having a student teacher has not only forced me to think about all of the little details but has also forced me to question why I do thing the way I do. As a result I'm rethinking some of my practices and hope to make some improvements.

If you haven't already guessed, I seeing learning with a student teacher to be a two-way street. It's an opportunity for the associate teacher to share some knowledge and experience while the student teacher has an opportunity to share creativity and to question existing practices. I can't wait for more learning this week.