Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Student teachers

Every year we have student teachers or as the university has started calling them, teacher candidates. This year we have three student teachers and once again, I find myself struggling with my role as a teacher librarian and their role as student teachers.

In the fall, when the student teachers come to the school for their one week observation, I make sure I book an appointment with them and go over the role of a teacher librarian, what the library program is all about and where to find 'stuff'.  When they come back to start their actual practicums, I have these conversations with them again. I also stress that it is important that they try to book time in the library for a variety of reasons:

1. I want them to try and plan a project
2. I want them to collaborate with a teacher librarian
3. I want them to see the skills that teacher librarians are teaching the students
4. I want them to experience the space that is the library. In terms of classroom management, it is a different space.

I do struggle with the collaboration side of things though. I don't want the student teachers to default to me and, as a result, have me plan the whole project. But I've also seen what projects student teachers come up with and I don't want them to have the project go sideways on them and then they have negative experience about the library, library program and the teacher librarian. I think that collaborating with student teachers is so difficult because of what I believe is central to any successful planning: trust.

I also see problems with the gap between what the student teachers are taught at university and what the reality of the classroom is. I know that that disconnect has always been there but I think it is increasing. When I did my practicum, I needed to know how to 'chalk and talk' effectively, question students, create worksheets, devise tests and manage classroom behaviour. Now student teachers are arriving knowing about PBL, Kagan structures, Socratic circle and co-constructing criteria.  I agree that all of these are very useful educational strategies but if student teachers aren't grounded in the basics of knowing the curriculum and how to run a lesson, they can't make the leap to the aforementioned strategies.

And so I struggle. Thoughts?

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