Week #2 as Master Teacher

Well I went from the ‘dream’ of writing a blog post every day, to the ‘reality’ of writing one a week …

Before I get to Week #2 though, I have to briefly say something about Week #1.

There really is something about watching a young pre-service teacher standing in front of one of your classes, delivering material that you helped her to prepare. In the early days it’s not the glorious ego-stroking moment you hope for (come on, secretly we all do). The reality is that you sit to the side (or at the back) amidst the students you have been standing in front of all year, and you see a perfect mirror of yourself. Instead of it being the image you create with hairbrush and eye-liner, it’s the one that haunts you first thing in the morning. The blotchy skin pale skin, deep brow wrinkles and drooping eyes … the look of panic as you know you’ve got too much to do and too little time. This is not a negative comment on my prac student at all. It was a wake up call to me. She was standing and delivering. The kids were listening (for the most part) and completing the worksheet set. They were successful in completing the work. But there was something lacking – ‘true’ engagement and the opportunity to actually ‘think’.

We were fortunate enough to be invited to visit the school of a twitter colleagues, Shany Hartley. At her school they are doing some remarkable and innovative things. It was a school, but not a school. Learning was happening, but traditional teaching practices were all but gone. We came away from our visit to this school full of excitement and ideas. What we clung to was the Blooms Revised Taxonomy Matrix. My prac student had dreams to create one for Year 8 and to implement the very next lesson. She started at the front, and chose (wisely) to move to the side.

Week #2 brought reality crashing down on us. The matrix was created (I even did one for my Year 11 class) and it was distributed to the students. The reaction was to be expected – confusion and some surprising resistance. The activities created had been wonderful – but the delivery of the concept – just WHY she believed this style of learning was going to benefit the students was not detailed. Once again, the underlying philosophy was ‘I want you to do this, so do it.’

This week we’ve had some wonderful discussions about teaching and why some lessons work and others don’t. The visit from my prac students ‘mentor’ was great also. All of the suggestions he made were ones I had made myself – have fun, get them to laugh, teaching is acting, outline learning outcomes explicitly, write the lesson plan on the board, check for learning at the end of the lesson.

One HUGE contribution made to MY teaching practice this week is the introduction of 5 mins reading at opening and closing of each lesson. First lesson of this a yr 10 girl said ‘I hate reading, it’s boring – there’s nothing good to read.’ I gave her a copy of ‘The Memory Daughters Keeper’. She asked to take it home over night – and returned it next morning telling me that she had actually read instead of spending time on facebook or MSN. Then she asked to take it home over the weekend.

Week #2 – success!

Preparation for Praccie

Well, thanks to the comments made on my last post, I’ve now got a long list of suggestions for how to be a good teacher and a good master teacher. So what should I do (as this mystical master teacher) in preparation for meeting the pre-service teacher who I will be supervising?

Obvious things spring to mind, such as growing a wise-looking beard/moustache, ironing some flowing robes (possibly borrowing a graduation gown and mortar board – I rented mine for my graduation) or working on my serious stare …. but of course those things are mere external symbols of an inner mastery that I know I have not attained.

Hmmm … next obvious preparation: plan lessons for classes to be taught on the day prac student is to observe my master teacher skills in practice. Plan? It’s a little scary to be honest. Consider the outcomes I hope for students to achieve each lesson and then plan accordingly? Oh dear. My ‘door handle planning’ isn’t going to help me now.

1. Planning lessons. (This will be done on something OTHER than scrap paper!)

2.  Organise extra ‘teacherly’ activities I have in the works. (Including DER leadership stuff; Rock Band co-ordinator stuff – RockFest must get underway; PBL with Year 8 English classes and the organising and getting films made for the DAVAs – our Digital and Visual Arts competition.)

3. Decide which classes I’m willing to give up for praccie to teach. (Year 12 is out, even Year 11 is out … that leaves 7, 8 and  10 English classes)

4. Answer Darcy Moore’s 10 Questions for your Child’s Teacher. (This should probably by number one … if you’re taking notes – do this step first!)

5. Smile and be honest. Tell her how it is, straight up. Give her some boundaries – let her know what my expectations are for a ‘good’ teacher.

6. Let her visit other teachers … it’s not about ‘me’ … it’s not even really about ‘her’ … it’s about the future of education (yep, vomit – but it’s TRUE!)

Alright … that’s the list. I wonder how much of it I can actually get done in the three hours before bed tonight?

I am going to be a ‘Master’ teacher …

Tomorrow I meet my prac student from Sydney University. It is the third time I have had a prac student, but honestly the last two times weren’t that successful. (The first one quit half-way through … she said it was personal issues, but I get the feeling it was me.)

I’m rather nervous at the prospect as my teaching style is rather erratic and my ideas are always too big to be transformed into reality. I’m worried I won’t do the profession justice. I suppose my style will show her ONE way of approaching the profession.

Perhaps it is the current focus on the teaching profession (thanks to the election) that is accentuating my anxiety. Afterall, the suggestion by PM Gillard is that training to be a teacher can be shortened significantly – from a 2 year diploma of edu or masters of edu to an 8 week course!

Have you been a ‘master’ teacher before? What’s your best advice for a newbie master teacher? I want to do right by this young teacher, the profession and her future students.

I’d love your suggestions!