I have been thinking a lot about what teachers need to do to ensure our students are capable, learned individuals who are ready to enter the next stage of their life, whether that is higher education or a career. As educators it is imperative that we make sure that the next round of teachers are prepared and ready to take on this immense challenge. The big question is how do encourage and foster new teachers to apply to be an educator? How do we mentor teacher interns?
We all know that “old school teaching”, rote memorization, drill and kill, and the like, is no longer applicable in today’s classroom, nor is it acceptable. We need to have energetic, innovative, intuitive, and creative teachers in our classrooms. Our students depend on us to help guide them to the world of yet-to-be-thought-of careers and educational majors. Reflecting on this, we need to apply a similar standard to what we want for our students and our new prospective teachers.
The mission statement for my school district is three-fold; provide all students the means to be successful 1) in Academics, 2) be College and Career Ready, and 3) with a Positive and Productive Life. To do this, we teach and guide our students to be able to read and write in order to effectively communicate. We strive to incorporate understanding of core content concepts and principles so our students are knowledgeable in their communications. We foster our students to think in all areas of the brain; analytically, logically and creatively so they are well-rounded and able to understand diverse points of view. Our teaching goal, along with parents too, is to raise citizens who understand that their efforts and decisions about work and performance are their tools for their future. It is important life’s work to raise competent, caring, educated adults.
So, as with our students, we need to do the same with upcoming teachers. University educational programs are at the lead with guiding their (adult) students to be able to communicate effectively both with other educators but also with their future students. Professors, mentors, and coaches have the responsibility to foster teacher interns’ thinking about how to guide students to become analytical problem solvers, logical questioners, and creative idea makers. Interns have the immense responsibility to realize where their own skills and talents lie and where they can contribute most to nurture all students. Interns have to be cognizant of their abilities to foster academics, to create a positive and productive environment, as well to prep for future college and careers.
How do we teachers do this for teaching interns? We model what we teach our students. We model how to communicate and, as effectively as we can, how to think analytically about the curriculum. We model how to logically question what we want our students to learn and why we want them to understand it. We model how to look for creative ways to provide opportunities to learn. The crux is when there is a choice between who is given the opportunity priority, the students or the intern who needs to learn how to teach students. It takes work and it takes time. Just as we encourage our own students, we learn from our mistakes. It may mean reevaluating skills, placement, and available options. Ultimately, we want a classroom that fosters it all, a classroom that provides students with the skills to be academic, productive, and future ready citizens. If we ask ourselves whether we would want to learn in our classroom, the answer should be “yes” for both us and teaching interns.