I don't feel supported by my mentor teacher, what can I do?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Kaitlin Bode, Feb 2, 2018.

  1. Kaitlin Bode

    Kaitlin Bode Rookie

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    Feb 2, 2018

    I'm student teaching in a kindergarten classroom and so far I love the kids! I've also gotten along great with the rest of the kindergarten teachers, and my mentor teacher and I are pretty friendly. Despite this, my mentor teaching doesn't really seem able to mentor me and it's absolutely killing my confidence.

    To start, she is super successful and therefore is in a lot of leadership or supportive positions around the school, which leaves us with basically no time to talk. For example, today I had to remind her that I'm supposed to be taking over math next week. She's a fantastic teacher so I can see why she's needed everywhere, but I feel that my own student teaching experience is less effective because we don't have enough time to plan out my lessons before she has to get her kids or go to a meeting. For example, I'm about to go into my 5th week and I've only taught about 3 lessons.

    I think she's also nervous to turn her class over and give me more control. She never student taught (she did the alternate route) and because of that I think that she really doesn't know what to expect or why it's so important that I get some time to practice teaching. I get that it must be really difficult to leave your class for a few weeks, but it absolutely kills my confidence when she says she nervous, even jokingly. I know I'm not teacher of the year, but I never will be if I cant practice and get more experience being in front of a class.

    This all came to a head when my teacher needed an immediate sub the other day. A first grade teacher overheard and commented that last year a student teacher subbed for her mentor teacher for a few days on her second week at the school, even though she didn't have a license. After a few awkward seconds, my mentor then commented that she would let me sub but I don't have my sub license, and the other teacher reminded her that the last student teacher didn't either, but they still had her sub. Basically it was super awkward and though I know the other teacher didn't mean for it to sound that way, it really made me feel like literal trash afterwards.

    Basically I haven't been able to teach much, and even with slowly increasing responsibilities planned, I can tell my mentor teacher is reluctant to hand over more control of her class. How do I help make us both more comfortable with these transitions? I half want to talk to her on Monday and basically say have an honest talk that her being nervous to transition control has really affected my confidence and that I welcome her feedback on how to better my lessons, but I need more support so that I can do a better job student teaching. I'm not sure how I could bring this up or discuss though, or even if she would have enough time to talk about it. Please help!
     
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  3. svassillion

    svassillion Companion

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    Feb 2, 2018

    Could you start by asking her if the two of you could schedule an allotted time to discuss lesson plans for the following week (on a recurring basis)? I can understand why a teacher may have a hard time handing over the wheel, but a CT should be expecting that. If she's taught things a certain way for years which she has seen to be effective and successful it could be easy to assume that it may not be as successful when someone who hasn't taught it before teaches it. But if you two had time to discuss these lessons ahead of time her concerns may be alleviated once she feels she's given you some specific pointers. You could try the route of having an honest discussion about what you're feeling, but I know for me I would be too afraid to be that honest thus would never end up saying anything. So I think the key is finding time to collaborate.

    Just an FYI, the fact that you're thinking about this indicates you'll have a strong teaching career. Looking back on my student teaching, I wasn't proactive at all and could have done a lot more to prepare myself.
     
  4. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Habitué

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    Feb 3, 2018

    You should tell your college supervisor and ask them what you should do. It's important that they know about your situation!!

    I'm student teaching middle school and I think my mentor is reluctant to hand over control. We are doing the co teaching model but I worry that I'm not getting enough teaching practice.
     
  5. rpan

    rpan Comrade

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    Feb 3, 2018

    I think when you have your discussions, stick to “facts” so that it doesn’t become personal. So discuss with your MT about whether you can take over more lessons because you haven’t had that many and that you are willing to take on whatever pointers she has for you.

    Be proactive and make some lesson plans and go through them with your MT. If she is time poor then having to go through plans you have written and giving her feedback is quicker than sitting down with you to write the lesson plans. I would expect my ST to write lessons plans for my “approval” rather than me sit with her to write them.

    It’s probably best to avoid telling her that her reluctance to let you take over is killing your confidence. It’s not her job to boost your confidence and she may get defensive and it may become awkward. It is her job to support you to become the best teacher you can be so tell her that you feel the only way for you to improve is to do actual teaching. Perhaps start the conversation by saying that you have picked up a lot from observing her practicing her craft and would like more opportunities to put into practice what you have learnt from her. Would it be alright for you to write some lesson plans and run it by her and then teach those lessons.
     
  6. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    Feb 3, 2018

    I also suggest speaking with your college adviser. Ultimately, the classroom is hers. She is responsible for everything that happens in it. If she's not confident in your abilities to take over portions of the class, it might be because she's reluctant to let go of control or it might be that she doesn't see enough in you to trust you yet.

    As far as subbing, check your local rules before you decide to get upset. In my district student teachers are not allowed to sub. It happens, but it isn't supposed to.

    Remember, student teaching is for YOU. The only one that really gains from it is you. You are important to her, but not as important as those 24 little kids in her class. Her priority must be their well-being.
     
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  7. Kaitlin Bode

    Kaitlin Bode Rookie

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    Feb 3, 2018

    @rpan It's definitely a good idea to stick to facts, but one of my big issues is that the school has a very rigid pacing guide using math and reading programs. I don't actually get to write my own lesson plans at all since they just take them from the programs, though we all do edit them a bit to better suit our needs. Do you think it would be a good idea to maybe say that I recognize that she (my mentor teacher) is extremely busy and so possibly setting up a time to collect lesson plans weekly would be beneficial? Or another option would be showing me/giving me access to the originals so that I can copy them on my own without waiting around for her.

    @savassilion I would definitely also be honest to bring this up with her. I respect her so much and she's honestly such a great person, the issue sent that we don't get along, it's just that she's so busy that I really question why they decided she would be a good fit as a mentor. I think setting up a time for her to hand over the programs so I can copy down the lesson plans is a great idea!

    @2ndTimeAround and Ms.Holyoke I really wish I could talk to my college supervisor about this. I'm student teaching out of state so my supervisor is actually the assistant principal of the school, so there's really no one I can go to for any help with this situation. I have thought about emailing some college professors just for their advice though, and I may do that if I cant work out this problem with all of this advice.
     
  8. rpan

    rpan Comrade

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    Feb 3, 2018

    Even if you are teaching from a set program to a set schedule, you can still deliver the lesson differently, if you see value in a different delivery method. Have a chat with your MT. It will be good practice for you ultimately because not all schools will have that when you start teaching. I think asking for access to the originals to make a copy for the X number of weeks you are there would be a good idea. But before you have that chat about lesson plans, you need to chat about asking for teaching time. Be frank but tactful and try not to bring feelings into the conversation. If she is apprehensive about letting you takeover, ask if it’s because she doesn’t think you are up to it, and if this is the case, ask for her help and guidance in how to improve whatever it was she thought you were deficient in. Then perhaps take baby steps in perhaps taking over for part of a lesson so that she can see your improvements and then going from there.
     
  9. anon55

    anon55 Comrade

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    Feb 4, 2018

    Sort of reminds me of my student teaching experience. I feel there wasn't as much time as I wanted to get feedback and discuss plans.

    I think she was just really busy but was great when I asked. For example, I just said I would like us to have a formal meeting time every week, and that helped a lot. Sometimes teachers can just be really busy and aren't aware of your needs if you don't express them.

    What helped was having a schedule that we mostly stuck to provided by my college, of what I'll be taking over when. Have you thought about devising a schedule together of what you'll teach and when, so it takes it out of the arbitrary?
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2018
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  10. Kaitlin Bode

    Kaitlin Bode Rookie

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    Feb 4, 2018

    @anon55 Your experience totally sounds like mine, she's a really great person, just so busy we don't have a lot of time to discuss anything, which leaves us both feeling nervous because we haven't talked about anything really. I think setting up a formal meeting time would work well for us, I'm definitely going to bring that up on Monday as a possible solution! We do already have a schedule of what I'm supposed to be teaching. I'm doing a gradual take over, but my lessons keep being pushed back or are nonessential and are put aside to teach something more important. For example, I've been doing writing for the past two weeks but have only taught 3 lessons because we had a half day on day, or she thought it would be better to wait, etc. This week is math so hopefully it will be a lot more difficult to put aside.
     
  11. svassillion

    svassillion Companion

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    Feb 4, 2018

    I am always putting writing aside to fit in the things I hadn't planned for when mapping my curriculum such as assemblies or snow days. I only occasionally skip math for a day and never skip reading. So you'll definitely get more experience when you're leading those lessons.
     

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