One of the things I have missed when leaving my role as a Learning Coach was the ability to work with teachers in a symbiotic way. Some of the teachers I worked with would teach me more than they will ever realize while I was supporting them with their educational journey. I’ve worked with mentoring pre-service teachers previously in a variety of capacities but this time it was time for something new – a student teacher in their advanced placement. This was different in the sense that I hadn’t worked with the University of Alberta (only some of the other post-secondaries in the province) and this mentee would come with a foundational experience already.
The experience was a very interesting one for me because I have worked or volunteered in grade 5 in some capacity since graduating high school. The curriculum is the same one I tried to escape by teaching high school (except I still ended up teaching Grade 5 Language Arts that year). I was really looking forward to seeing someone else’s take on a curriculum that I know inside and out. I was fortunate to receive a very strong student teacher who understood the importance of relationship so we could focus on confidence and trying new things as well as fine-tuning certain things.
One of the hardest things for me was to give up some of the management control I worked to establish. This year has been one where I have had to adapt my management style to meet several different needs. To be honest, I’m not sure that I ever really did give up completely but I did try to remove myself from the situation unless I needed to step in for some reason.
One of the best things for me was watching how timely feedback can be implemented by a reflective practitioner. 9 weeks is not a lot of time for someone to make significant growth, so it amazes me when I see someone make a lot of growth and strive to implement feedback in a personally meaningful way. I found it personally encouraging as I don’t regularly receive a lot of feedback geared towards professional development. My goal is that hopefully through my own evaluation process, I can implement feedback that is given in a timely manner as well.
Last week I had a chance to speak with a friend who also hosted a student teacher. We talked about things we’d do differently, things we learned and things we’d like to try next time. I am looking forward to next year already as I look to take on another student teacher. I should say thank you to my student teacher for reminding me why I love teaching grade 5 and the importance in the relationships I build.