Once again I am finishing a semester with a pre-service teacher from a local university. We’ve spent the last three months together in my classroom – teaching and learning with and from each other. For the most part, the students I am asked to work with are well-prepared and do a good job considering their level of skill and experience.
Extending Professional Courtesy
I feel an obligation to accept these pre-service teachers. After all, I was once in their position and several expert teachers welcomed me into their rooms. Shouldn’t I extend the same professional courtesy to these aspiring educators? Yet, I am often doubtful about how much I have to really help them prepare for being a teacher.
I know the vision I have for the kind of teacher I want to be…and how often I fall short of that mark. “Wouldn’t they be better off placed with a teacher who really knows her stuff and has it all figured out?” I silently question myself after another day shared with my college student. Then I wonder if I will even accept another such student next semester…
Share the Journey
Maybe I have a distorted mindset about the role of a cooperating teacher. What if – instead of presenting a Utopian view of the “perfect classroom” – I simply share the day-to-day struggles, concerns and occasional triumphs of a real teacher. Do I have the courage to share the journey of learning and growing as a teacher as authentically as I can with another teacher? Can I leave my ego in my school bag and receive new insights and ideas from a pre-service teacher as readily as I can give them to him or her?
Welcoming a Pre-Service Teacher
I wasn’t sure if I was willing to accept another university student into my class…still not 100%, but I am confronted with a few guiding principles that are foundational to how I approach being a teacher.
- Teachers teach. Are there days when I wished I didn’t have a university student in my classroom? Yes, but that was a reflection of my own desire for comfort and not what was in the best interest of someone else. Teachers are called to help cultivate the skills and knowledge in others, which means I don’t get to filter decisions through a selfish mindset. Teachers must think first of what would be best for our students – and act accordingly.
- You can learn something from everyone. My willingness to accept pre-service teachers took a big step forward when I began viewing them not just as another student, but as a colleague from whom I could learn more about being a teacher. Humble yourself and seek to learn as much as you seek to impart.
- Teaching is a noble profession and as a member of this esteemed community, I am responsible for maintaining a high standard of excellence. Those of us who are fortunate to be in the teaching profession are also called to be gatekeepers into this profession. These pre-service teachers are only a few months away from being employed in our schools. If we want to elevate the status and influence of teachers, we must adhere to high standards that we both model and seek to attain.