Mentoring Preservice Teachers

Busy, Busy, Busy!

Recently I have been incredibly busy - both at home and at school. Due to this, I haven't had a chance to post about my teaching intern and the things I learnt about mentoring along the way. As this was my first time mentoring an intern, I felt like I was learning so much alongside her.

Teaching Intern

During this term, I have had a preservice teacher from the local university complete her teaching internship. I had a bit of an 'old teacher' moment when I reflected on the length of my internship (8 weeks) and the 4 weeks that are expected now. It seems like a short amount of time, but we made the most of it.

The Beginning

My intern was very proactive and ensured that she came in to visit the school before her internship commenced, meeting the deputy principal, myself and 2H.  She wrote a note to introduce herself to the 2H parent community and actively sought programs and planning documents to assist her in 'getting straight to work' when she started. It was great to see her interact with the students in my class in such a positive manner during her observation days and she got to know their names really quickly.

Teaching her own lessons

After much discussion between the two of us, she jumped straight into teaching. I did formal observations of her lessons, basing my comments on the Quality Teaching model. After her lessons, she was very reflective and thoughtful, often adapting her lessons based on her own feedback. It was interesting to get her to tell me her ideas on how the lesson went, but found myself telling her how I thought her lesson went, and what I would have done. Often, I would say to her that she had done just what I would have, and then we reflected together on how we could improve the lesson. 
The new framework for mentoring preservice teachers is about assisting them to come to their own conclusions by asking the right questions. When I went through the internship program, the mentoring teacher would tell you what they saw and how they would have done it as an example of 'best practice'.

What I learnt from my intern

It's very simple: the way I do things is not the only way. I guess I already knew that, but it was good to have a reminder. She did things in her own way, and still achieved the learning outcomes she had set for the lesson. 
I learnt that I needed to be so much more organised than usual, as I needed to give her time to mull things over.
Allowing someone to reflect on their own practice and supporting them with the right kind of questions is more effective than just telling them how to do it. Most interns and preservice teachers are reflective and know what went well with their lessons and what needed to be worked on, to the point where they are perhaps overly critical of themselves. As someone who is quite critical of myself, I learnt to focus on the positive and look for ways to improve a lesson rather than dwelling on the 'negative' things about my lesson.

The End

At the end of the 4 weeks (which whizzed by!) it was sad to see my intern go. She was someone I could quite comfortably team-teach with and a vibrant personality in my classroom. She had taken on the class as her own, and I could tell she was sad to say goodbye. We covered a lot of content and skills during her internship and I wish her all the best for her teaching career.

Any thoughts on mentoring? Feel free to share your ideas.

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