One of the many wonderful experiences I had this past school year was the pleasure of a student teacher in my classroom. I have never had a student teacher before and with only five years of teaching under my belt, I didn’t know if I was ready to help someone become a teacher, but my principal believed in me so I engaged in yet another adventure in my career.
I was placed with Lauren who was in her second year of the concurrent program at Queen’s University in Kingston and I don’t think we could have been better suited. Although I was a little nervous that she had only been in university for two years, and the fact that she really wasn’t that much older than some of my students, she did a wonderful job of maintaining an air of professionalism in our classroom. I also wasn’t particularly sure how much teaching she should be doing, but since one of my own beliefs is that one of the best ways to learn is by jumping in and taking a risk, away she went after only three days of observing me.
I was truly impressed with Lauren. She had very little experience with teaching using technology, but she embraced it fully. She edited the wiki, used differentiated instruction (both with technology and without), and absolutely loved the power of Google Docs. We also explored various sites like Glogster, Nings, Prezi, just to name a few and she couldn’t believe how all of these free programs worked together to make learning so much more fun and engaging. She has only been out of high school for two years, but could not get over how education has changed.
The final tool I showed her was Twitter and my fabulous PLN. There were a couple of days where we had questions and I showed her the power of Twitter. Sure, we could have Googled our question, but it was way more fun to show her that you can get amazing information and answers to your questions from real people in only a few minutes. She was truly impressed with the access to information that Twitter provides if you have a strong PLN.
The only thing I was slightly disappointed about was something that she hadn’t already learned in school. One of the most important aspects I took my from my teacher’s college was the knowledge about the retention levels of different teaching styles. I showed her this diagram and was disappointed to hear that she had not seen it yet. I’m not saying that she won’t see it over the course of her time at Queen’s as she is only in second year, but in my humble opinion, it’s one of the most important issues we need to be discussing with our preservice teachers. Unfortunately, I think many younger teachers are coming out with the idea that we need to teach like we were taught and for many students, this style of teaching just isn’t effective. Our students need to be doing and talking and discussing with their peers rather than sitting idly in their desks listening to us speak. Luckily for me, Lauren also embraced this concept too and hopefully she will take this knowledge back to her peers at Queen’s.
The final benefit of having Lauren with me was the collaborative effort that she brought to the table. It was fun for me to share my knowledge about technology in education with her, but it was also great to have her want to know how and why these methods fit into pedagogy. She challenged my thinking on education and for that, I am grateful as it helped both of us to learn.