Mentor Teachers: Three Initial Distinctions

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Well, Friday was my fourth day working with students at Kayhi—my first Friday, with this weekend my first real weekend as a student teacher. When I came back to Ketchikan at the end of the last school year, I worked out that I would student teach with three different mentor teachers. That arrangement wasn't what I expected, nor was I very sure about it to begin with. Now, though, I've realized that working with three different educators every day is a great opportunity, and I'm already seeing the benefits.

After four days in the classroom with these teachers, I think I'm ready to share three of my initial observed distinctions between each of them. For simplicity's sake I'll give them each a letter, (not their real initial).

Teacher X does the best job of explaining what he's doing in the classroom, justifying his teaching style and the type of work he gives the students. Far too many teachers provide little justification for what they do. X, in contrast, regularly explains to the students how he teaches, and provides clear examples of how it works.

Teacher Y does the best job of eliciting students' opinions and making them feel that their voices matter. In many classes, students have few opportunities to speak their mind (except out of turn), and they gain little experience expressing opinions aloud. In Y's classes, though, students are asked for their views and their voices all the time.

Teacher Z does the best job of focusing on the key objectives of her course while also providing the greatest variety in daily activities. Z maintains consistency by setting up an agenda and assignment organization system, but doesn't devote any class time to doing certain habitual things every day like the other teachers do, freeing up time to focus on the central goals of the course.

As you can imagine, I've seen many things that each of these teachers do that I can admire or critique, and it's only been four days. I'm really looking forward to observing, learning, and teaching much more.

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