Giving Compass’ Take:
• A new associate teacher at a Massachusetts charter school shares her experience handling poor student behavior and receives guidance through teacher mentorship.
• Teacher mentorship programs are proving to be very valuable for new teachers. How can education leaders prioritize these types of initiatives?
• Read more about how excellent teaching skills can be passed down.
It was a potential disaster for any new teacher: A student in my eighth-grade math class was telling me that I didn’t know the rules and proclaiming that he would never speak to me again. Basically, he was testing whether I had the confidence to handle a difficult situation
Even though I already had a master’s degree in teaching, I had applied for a position as an associate teacher in the Massachusetts charter school where I currently work. I knew I needed more classroom experience and one-on-one coaching before I was ready to be a lead teacher. I was also drawn to the school’s academic track record, as its student outcomes place it among the top-performing public schools in the state.
As an associate teacher, I was paired with a mentor teacher and trained over an entire school year to gain critical skills in managing a classroom, fostering a positive learning environment and more. At each stage of my training, I had to demonstrate competence before I could take on greater responsibility.
When I debriefed with my mentor about what happened that day, she emphasized that to become a successful math and science teacher, I had to build trust in my classroom by showing my students that I cared about them on a personal level.
I began to take a similar approach with all of my students: seeing them as people first and students second. My mentor’s coaching was invaluable in giving me a new lens through which to see this situation and many others in my classroom.
Read the full article about learning skills as an associate teacher by Jill Bernstein at The Hechinger Report.
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