I am one of the lucky ones. I am over half way to being a secondary school teacher, I am one week into my second practicum, and I am 100% lucky to have had four amazing associate teachers this year.
Overheard discussions and comments at Uni have told me that some of the pre-service teachers have not been so lucky. It may not be that they have bad associates, for I think there is good in everyone, but it may be that they just haven’t seen quite eye to eye with who they have been placed with.
Looking back on my last practicum, I can say that if I didn’t have great associate teachers, it would have warped my sense of calling to be a teacher. I think it is true that in this one year Graduate Diploma in teaching having great associates can make all the difference. They are the first teachers we are exposed to. And naturally, we pick up habits from them; these habits can be both good and bad, but thankfully, I think I have picked up some good ones:
Organisation. Practicum told me that teachers are some of the busiest people on the planet. Without great time management skills and the ability to be organised, teachers can begin to drown in their work. If I allow myself to begin drowning, I will stress! And stressed is not something I want to be, why? Because students can smell it. If I am stressed, my teaching will be riddled with it and this will have a negative impact on the learners.
Commitment. To show commitment to learners is to tell them that you care. I saw this in one of my associate teachers as she was 100% committed to their achievement. The students knew this, and the commitment filtered down.
Relationship. Having a good rapport with both students and staff will make life infinitely easier. One of my associates demonstrated having a great relationship with the other staff by making an effort to organise events, little things like going out for an hour after work. Another associate showed me the importance of collaboration and sharing as a teacher – on my last day she handed me a USB stick with multitudes of resources on it. I like to think that it was the relationship that had formed over the seven weeks that caused this.
Creativity. Learners learn better if a teacher is creative and caters to their interests. This is done by the selection of texts, the learning/teaching style, and the activities planned. Being creative is hard. But I saw my associates put in the hard work to be creative and it was worth it!
So, this goes out to my four wonderful associate teachers (I have six weeks to go with two of them!). Thank you for showing me how to be a great teacher.