Two things happened this week that were pretty impressive to me as a mentor teacher.
#1) No tech? No big deal.
Early in the week, my projector went out.
My student teacher had planned several days’ lessons around discovery with our interactive algebra tiles mat and with algebra tiles in Desmos. The plan was to start the discussions as a whole class and then allow students to do some discovery on their own using Chromebooks. Then we would allow students to justify their reasoning to the class and have some discussion on what we noticed/wondered with the structure.
That was the plan, but you know Mr. Murphy and that infamous law.
The projector would probably be out for a few days, and I knew that would throw an entire monkey wrench in everything she had planned. In previous experiences, this would have completely panicked a student teacher and they wouldn’t have known what to do. Not this time.
Her reaction: No tech? No big deal.
We made use of the whiteboards in the back of the room and had students justify the factoring they did on their Chromebooks.
Shifting to a Plan B she wasn’t prepared for didn’t phase her a bit. She knew she could make it work, so she did.
#2) She asked students for feedback EARLY.
I don’t think I’ve ever had a student teacher do this before, and it was really powerful for both of us to see. We started with her formal evaluation rubric that her supervisor and I will use for her two major evaluations. We reworded some of the questions into student-friendly terms, and then asked some open-ended questions.
I appreciated that she asked the tough questions that most student teachers might not want answers to yet. However, her feedback was extremely positive and the students gave her great input.
Some of the feedback:
I like how Miss Mallory…
-listens to us
-approaches us when we have questions with respect
-doesn’t pressure us and expect us to do something correct immediately after learning something
-can tell when I understand or don’t understand
-always wants to help
-tries to explain in a way I can understand
-walks around the room and is willing to take questions at any time
-checks on everyone throughout the class
-isn’t always to herself – she walks around and is interested in our learning
This one almost made me cry:
“I like how Miss Mallory explains things in detail, it’s kind of like she’s following in Hedge’s footsteps. I think Miss Mallory will make a great math teacher.”
Next week, it would help me if Miss Mallory…
-I like how she goes around the classroom and helps me so I don’t really want it to change
-would try to teach us a lesson*
-taught a lesson by herself*
-kept doing what she is doing
*This is from the class where she and I are co-teaching. She will pick that class up completely by the end of this week.
Most of the responses from students were for her to continue helping the way she is currently helping. Students have commented to me that she seems more like a “regular” teacher than a student teacher. I think a lot of that comes from the fact that she jumped in the first day and started getting to know students. She rarely (if ever) sits during class. She also has a confidence when she talks to students, even if she’s not sure what they are asking. She never calls me over to “bail her out” – she sticks with it.
For “Something Miss Mallory taught that I don’t quite understand yet”, she got some really specific things that students wanted to begin with next week. I appreciated that she didn’t get caught up in the positive feedback, either. Her immediate focus was on improving for next week, so we spent more time discussing the feedback that was constructive.
We also talked about making this a regular weekly thing: Friday Feedback.
That first round was just a rough draft (we have a few more questions in the works for this week). For example, I want to add a section where students explain what they learned this week in their own words, and a section on “wonders” they still have.
I would also like your feedback on our questions. Is there something we didn’t ask, but we should have? Is there a question that needs to be rephrased?