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Balancing support and challenge:

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u  As with any effective student-centered learning, development and progression in Initial Teacher Education is based on achieving the right balance between support, appropriate to the stage in their learning and challenge to move the student teacher forward in their thinking or practice.
u  The student teacher will need different levels of support and challenge in different situations.
l  This may change from week to week or even day to day.
l  A shorter term example may be if they are struggling with one issue, such as behavior management, with a particular class or individual.
l  Recognizing the level of support or challenge that is needed in a particular circumstance and being flexible in your approach is a key mentoring skill.



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Mentor Role:

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-      The mentor’s responsibilities include:
u  Act as a positive role model
u  Enthuse the student teacher about their subject and subject pedagogy so that student teacher, in turn, will contribute to enthusing pupils of all abilities, aptitutdes and backgrounds to want to learn, enjoy and achieve
u  Help the student teacher to understand something about the context of the school an how this affects practice.
u  Help the student teacher to develop a planned way using an appropriate balance of support and challenge determined by the student teacher’s progress.
u  Be familiar with the aims and expectations of the ITE curriculum
u  Understand how to assess the student teacher’s progress ad be able to do this accurately
u  Set the student teacher SMART targets in relation to the ITE professional standards/competencies and the course requirements.
u  Facilitate the student teacher’s links with colleagues and professional development opportunities beyond the student teacher’s subject area.
-      Key characteristics of Mentors:
u  Organization element:
l  Responsible for the school-based training of the student teacher
l  Planning a timetable for them
l  Working out sort of what proportion of lessons for them to be involved with
l  How much they’ll be spend working with you and working with colleagues.
u  Pastoral element:
l  The concern and support that you need to the student teacher
-      Student’s views:
u  Someone who is prepared to give you the space that you need to get used to being a teacher, to being an independent teacher, but at the same time someone who is always prepared to give you the new ideas or the direction that you might be lacking to help you out with your organization of lessons and always to give good feedback.
u  Personal qualities like approachability, objectivity and listening skils.
u  “I think it’s very easy for people to sit at the back of the classroom and have too many of their own thoughts about the way they teach and put those onto the way they think you should teach and I don’t really think that’s the right way of doing it.”
u  “They should sit there, as impartial as they can, not make a judgement with respect to how they do it, but purely look at how you do it and talk about your skills and what you’re good at and not good at.”
-      Mentoring relationships:
u  The mentor must avoid patronizing the student teacher and should be sensitive to their adult status.
u  Conversation between two adults, where one is the teacher and the other the student teacher, can be uncomfortable and non-productive unless both participants feel that their contributions are valued.
l  This can particularly be the case if the student teacher has had previous experience of other school contexts or alternative approaches to subject pedagogy.
l  Appreciating this and understanding what the student teacher is learning on their ITE course can provide a starting point for discussion.
u  Good mentors explore the assumptons, values and beliefs held by the student through questioning and keeping dialogue open to differences of opinion.
u  Such questioning helps to establish a productive climate in which critical reflection and valuable learning can take place.


Next page: Balancing support and challenge

What is the difference between tutor and mentor roles?

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-      The roles of mentor and tutor vary between courses, national systems and school contexts.
-      The term mentor is used to indicate the person (usually a member of the school staff) who works with the beginner teacher on a daily basis in the school context supporting their development while on placement.
-      The role of tutormay include providing academic support, if the student is studying for an academic qualification, and visiting the school to observe teaching in order to moderate and coordinate grading with the school mentor.
u  It may also involve leading tutorials or seminars that helps students to link theory and practice.
u  The tutor is unlikely to be from within the immediate school context (i.e. from the same department) and may be from a Higher Education Institution, external teacher education provider or from a different school within an alliance of schools.
-      The student experience:
-      Four themes that underpin the process of learning to be a teacher:
u  The concept of teacher identity or sense of self as teacher.
u  The importance of potential and actual relationships with a number of ‘significant others’
u  The role of emotion in student teachers’ reasons for becoming a teacher and (more strongly) in their accounts of their early experiences in schools.
u  Student teachers’ concerns about the relevance of ITP (Individual Training Plan) course provision.

Next page: Mentor Role

Student Teacher’s opinion about teaching:

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- “I was sort of two thirds of the way through my Open University degree in English literature. I felt if I was going to be a credible candidate as an English teacher I needed to prove that I was really in love with English.”

- “Teaching is fantastic because there’s just so much sheer variety.”
- “You have to be mega organized, however much you want to instill a love of your subject into people – and I think that is hugely, hugely important.”

- “The idea that exam results are very important is without question. So I took over, in my first year, a group of 12 pupils who were predicted C grades, most of them for their GSCE English and when their results came out, five of them got A grades, five of them got B grades and two of them got C grades.”

- “The most important thing when I came into teaching was that I had to have the attention of the pupils, and that I think you have to lay down the guidelines. So that was a challenge.”
- It’s much more interactive now, the teaching the focus is on what the pupils are learning during the course of the lesson, rather than how much the teacher actually knows.”

- “A good teacher is about striking the right relationship with your pupils. So that you can communicate with them, so that you can know what makes them tick, but at the same they’ve got to have that mutual respect for you so that they will work and they will get down to it – you can’t be too chummy, you can’t be too distant. You have to hit the right area in terms of the relationship, and I think that that is hugely important.”

- “The material you are working with is also very important: I’ve taught some texts which the pupils don’t enjoy, if they don’t really enjoy it they’re not going to engage in the lesson. Alternatively, I’ve taught some texts which the pupils really enjoy and when they’re enjoying it they learn more. So, the material is down to it.”

- “Your organization – you’ve got to be completely organized so that you’re moving from one place to the next so that you’ve got a coherent narrative going through your lesson, so that you’re moving to an end point so hat all the learning is taking place as well. So, organization, striking the right relationship – really, really important factors.”

- “Learning to teach, the most valuable thing you can do is reflect on the lessons you have taught, and that’s part of the process I’m going through at the moment in terms of getting my qualification. We are actively asked, quite rightly, to reflect on our teaching practice – what was good about that lesson? What could have been improved? It’s usually the teacher’s lack of focus and preparation that will lead to that learning not occurring. Pupils are generally very willing to do it and they are very able to be led, but they’ve got to be led in the right direction.”

- “Having done some teaching, you then need to think about what you’ve done in terms of when learning has been successful and when it’s been less than successful. So you need to make some sort of evaluation of what you’ve done in terms of teaching and assess what your pupils have learnt and then you can make a conclusion from that about the types of strategies that are effective, the things that work and the things that don’t work. But the things that work are not necessarily going to be the same in every context and I think that’s what makes teaching really interesting – the things that work in one school or the things that work with one class are not necessarily the things that work with another class. And that what makes the job fun, because you can think about different ways of putting your material across each time and I think that also reflects on this whole process of us as teachers growing and continuing to develop – we’re always finding better ways or new ways of teaching that we think might be an improvement on what we’ve done before.”

Next page: 2. Learning to Teach - Mentoring and Tutoring Student Teachers

2. Learning to Teach - Mentoring and Tutoring Student Teachers

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-      The need to balance student teacher support with appropriate levels of challenge and some commonly used approaches for supporting student teachers development.
-      Supporting beginner teachers can provide opportunities to share best practice, and to connect with the latest research and developments in both subject pedagogy and broader educational practice.
-      It provides an opportunity to engage in critically reflective dialogues about practice, with both the beginner teacher and others who support them.
-      For many, mentoring or tutoring is a valuable CPD opportunity as well as providing important evidence on a CV of involvement in the latest educational developments.

Next page: What is the difference between tutor and mentor roles?

School Experience:

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- Learning to be a teacher is about developing your own ‘teaching personality’.
- Learning to be a teacher involves drawing on your previous experiences, and the opportunities that you have as a student teacher, in order to develop that personality.
- And it will change as your career progresses and you gather more experience.

- However, as with any learners, it is how individuals take control of their own learning that will influence the type of teacher they become.

What students say about learning to teach?
Five dimensions of effective learning:

Dimension
Orientation
Intentionality
Deliberative
Frame of Reference
Drawing on a range of sources to shape and makes sense of the experience.
Response to feedback
Effective use of feedback to further learning
Attitude to context
Acceptance of the context and the ability to capitalize on it.
Aspiration
Aspirational both as learners and teachers
1.    Intentionality:
a.     Taylor (2008) found evidence of effective learning when students deliberately set their own schedule of learning and influenced the implementation of these.
b.    She found that students achieve this through reflection on self in terms of their own individual development and of their development as teachers, and through reflection on wider educational theory.
2.    Frame of Reference:
a.     Effective student teacher drew on a range of sources of information, not just relying on classroom experience.
3.    Response of Feedback:
a.     Student teachers value the feedback they receive, if it supports effective learning.
b.    Effective feedback is ‘the sharing of experiences with their supervisors and other student teacher, the joint exploration of beliefs, perceptions and affects involved in teaching practice and/or the joint construction of meanings.’
c.     They argue these can support effective learning as they lead to self-exploration, exploration of the teaching profession, mutual knowledge and the strengthening of complicity relationships amongst student teachers, their supervisors and colleagues.
4.    Attitude to context:
a.     Opening up to the different ideas, rather than seeing as them as constraints.
5.    Aspiration:
a.    Students that make connections between principle and practice, thought and action to make sense of teaching and its impact on education in general, schools and particularly children and their learning.

Next page Student Teacher’s opinion about teaching

Student Teacher-Centered Approach:

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- This approach asks students, mentors and tutors to critically engage with issues that arise and find solutions through a process of exploration and critical reflection.
- In this way student teachers don’t just emulate existing practice but will take more personal responsibility to adapt, question, challenge and experiment with a range of different solutions and techniques.

- The negative aspects:
          a) Time: a questioning, critical approach takes a lot of discussion, research and time for experimentation. It requires a high level of skill from teacher-educators to accommodate the level of individualization that results.
          b) Amount of information – In order to adopt a critical approach student teachers need to draw on a range of opinions from mentors, tutors, their own practice and the literature. This can be overwhelming, although developing critical reflection can ensure experiences lead to learning.
          c) Proactive: Student teachers have to be proactive in taking charge of their own learning. This involves the student teacher being aware of their own learning process (metacognitive awareness) including their assumptions, values, and beliefs, which may impac on their reactions to situations.

- The arguments for:
          a) They take full account of individual needs.
         
b) Supports student teachers to be co-creators of their own knowledge
         
c) Finding solutions that work for them and developing the skills to be flexible and adaptable to different context and approaches.

Next page School Experience

Transmission Approach:

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- The ‘behaviorist’ and ‘traditional craft’ paradigms require student teachers to copy and adopt pre-existing practice and accept knowledge as presented by an ‘expert’ such as a university tutor or school based mentor.

- Some argue that the ‘transmission’ style of ITE is character by a ‘top tips’ approach, where experienced practitioners, either in schools or universities, consider their solution to be the correct one.

- Negative consequences to be aware of:
          a) Teaching is not a science: it is very difficult to identify a solution to a problem that will work in     every context and every time.
          b) Teaching is highly complex and context specific: Schools have their own underlying principles
          beliefs, and values that manifest themselves in the way they teach pupils and in how they expect
          teacher to behave. Again, a teacher moving between contexts may find one approach is not effective
          in other contexts.
          c) Student teachers start ITE with different levels of knowledge and skills, and different
           understandings of pupil learning:
the transmission approach can neglect the individualization of the
           learning process of the student teacher.

- The argument in favor:
          a) it allows for the standardization of knowledge and skills.
          b) It is relatively easy to sit every student teacher in a lecture hall and make sure they know about child protection, or to coach a student teacher to copy how a mentor delivers a particular lesson.
        (for some topics, such as understanding a particular legal framework, this might be the most effective approach.)

Next page Student Teacher-Centered Approach

Differences between the 4 paradigms:

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- Difference between paradigms is related to the debate around what knowledge is and how it is created.
- The difference is between:
a) Knowledge being in the power of others and ‘given’ to a student teachers (the ‘transmission’ of knowledge and skills), and
b) Knowledge being something that is co-created and able to be influenced by all participants (including students and teachers)
Behaviour management:
- approaches to behavior management might work with one class one week, but then not have the same impact the following week.
- Pupil behavior is built on a complex cocktail of individual and group dynamics and circumstances, and the nature of the curriculum they are present with.
- This level of complexity suggests the need to develop student teachers awareness of their own impact on the situation.
- This is purely individual, as it will involve the student teachers characteristics, beliefs and values, relationships and identity and therefore is akin to the Personalistic paradigm and enabling students’ individual growth as teachers.

Transferring learning between contexts:
- Student teachers have to spend time teaching in two different school contexts.
- Schools, like any institution, have their own atmosphere, ethos and policies which make the straight transfer of skills and knowledge a challenge.
- Student teachers have to be able to transfer their learning between contexts but in such a way that the learning is adaptable and flexible.
- At the extreme side, the student teacher may effectively have to re-learn skills and knowledge that are suitable to the context.

- Adopting the behaviorist or craft paradigms, but the solution doesn’t work in every context?
- Having the ability to transform, adapt and actually reject the strategies can be seen to be a core part of what Taylor describes as “students as teacher and learners” and Zeichner as the Enquiry Orientation.

Limited Time Available:
- Time is short, so need to decide how student teachers are to continue after the ITE course and what skills they need to do so? (e.g. introduction to classroom research).
- What type of teacher do we want to produce from ITE courses?
- How do we achieve this?

Next page Transmission Approach

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