Laryngitis is not a lot of fun, particularly when you love words! In any case, on Thursday afternoon last week I turned up to work, with a rather husky sounding voice. I already had a my prac student teaching my year 10 class, but I had two senior classes that I was to teach that day, year 11 Standard English and year 12 Standard English. My colleague also had a prac student who was sitting in our department and I was really, very impressed when he offered to teach my classes for me. Here is this young preservice teacher, having observed me teach these classes a couple of times, really playing as part of a team and offering to teach. He took my lesson plan and delivered a couple of fantastic lessons! As I sat there, supervising him, it was really impressive to see him really engage with the students. He asked careful, considered questions and was attentive to the different questions and queries. On Friday my preservice teacher taught my year 11 class for the double lesson and then the other preservice teacher taught my year 12 class. They were supervised by other teachers. Great lessons taught all round!
I have chosen to blog about this for a couple of reasons. Firstly I want to reassure people out there, that there are some wonderful people out there wanting to join our profession. In the past few years I have had a real mix of practicum teachers. I have had a couple of outstanding teachers and several ordinary practicum teachers. I know that universities can find it hard to place their students in schools, because of some of the bad experiences that schools entail. I had the worst practicum experience a couple of years ago, that really tested me. Thankfully, in the 16 or so practicum teachers I have mentored and supervised in schools, I can safely say there are only three students who I would say, I would never hire, but I would never allow those few of horrible experiences, to deny other students an opportunity to practise their craft.
The one thing that pleasantly surprised me about this whole experience is that both teachers were willing to step into classes they hadn’t taught, and deliver content whilst providing meaningful learning opportunities for the students. Often preservice teachers are labelled as having little initiative or not showing an interest in much else, other than the classes they need to teach. I can say that over the term, both of these teachers have shown an interest in the classes that they’ve taught and have shared many a number of discussions about teaching and learning.
I want to challenge people who also say that practicum teachers should not teach senior classes. I have never subscribed to this way of thinking. It takes a lot more work on my part as the teacher, but I have found that if you give students an opportunity to teach a senior class, they get a feel for the difficulties and complexities of taking a senior class. After all, if it is their final practicum, they will most likely have a senior class in their first year of teaching.
I have allowed both of these teachers opportunities to team teach with me in my senior classes and giving them this opportunity to teach them has shown me that some encouragement and mentoring. I have really enjoyed having both of these teachers in my department. My prac student in particular has been impressive. She is well prepared, thinks carefully about the content she needs to teach and the way in which she delivers the content.
Something that I am particularly proud of is that the teachers in my department have also taken practicum students. Previously, our department has not taken many practicum teachers. This is something that I have worked very hard to improve and it’s great to see that so many teachers are taking them now! I think we will have about five between us this year!
So, thank you Ellen and to Nick for taking my classes, really being part of the team! Your energy, enthusiasm and willingness to really take on the many and varied tasks that come along a teacher’s way on a daily basis is really impressive! If only I could invent two more teaching positions in my department!