Student Teaching: Different Teaching Styles

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Ms.Holyoke, Nov 28, 2017.

  1. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Comrade

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    I am student teaching next semester and I am in my pre-practicum now in the same classroom. My mentor is really kind and is a really good teacher. However, her teaching is more traditional (ex. I do, we do, you do) and my program does not follow this philosophy. We are expected to have students work in groups, do high cognitively demanding tasks, and share their ideas in class. I did a whole class discussion today and I wanted students to work in groups before the discussion. My mentor didn't seem to want them to work in groups and suggested partners instead. Her reasoning made sense because she didn't want the kids to get off task in groups if the pacing of the lesson is too slow. We did groups for part of one class and they worked really well. For the second class, she didn't seem to want them to work in groups and allowed them to work alone if they wanted to. I'm worried because I am expected to do all of these things that I am learning in class in my student teaching and I am not sure how my mentor will take it. I talked to her and she said that it sounds great, but she doesn't seem to be as on board when the situation comes up. Thoughts/ideas?
     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2017
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  3. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    Nov 28, 2017

    Ultimately, it is your mentor teacher's decision on how to run her classroom. The teacher may be nervous trying new techniques so close to state testing. She may be more receptive when the testing is finished. You could discuss that scenario with her and see what she thinks. I would also speak to your college supervisor and keep that professor updated. That pretty much covers your bases.
    Good luck and have fun!
     
  4. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Comrade

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    I spoke to my college supervisor and she made it clear that the strategies we are learning are what need to happen in the classroom. We have several observations throughout (announced and unannounced) so this is what they are looking for. My student teaching supervisor said she can reach out to my mentor as well to talk about the strategies and the expectations for my teaching.
     
  5. LouiseB

    LouiseB Cohort

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    Then you need to find a teacher who is supporting those ideas. I don't think that the college can dictate to the classroom teacher how the teaching is to be done in her room. In my state, cooperating teachers get nothing for helping student teachers. The classroom teacher is still responsible for that classroom even though the student teacher is suppose to have free reins. I would welcome the student teacher trying some of the group work but then the student teacher needs to make sure to handle ALL the discipline.
     
  6. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Comrade

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    My college reached out to only teachers who said that they are enthusiastic about students working in groups. I feel like the realities of a classroom make this hard. Because I don't have much teaching experience, it's also hard for me to try something new without modeling this after what my mentor has done.
     
  7. TrademarkTer

    TrademarkTer Comrade

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    Honestly I would just tell the teacher "Look, my college has this goofy thing where they require me to do method XYZ. Can I just try it once or twice to test run it, and then try it again for the announced observations?" Honestly my college spouted off nonsense methods they wanted us to use too, but luckily the person they sent to observe me was very old-school, and enjoyed watching me chalk-n-talk my observations.

    I would do the first observation the way your mentor teacher wants. If it comes back bad, then you can show her it to show that you need to try something else. Having it in writing would help, and the first observation is allowed to be "not so great" if you show improvement. And if they end up liking what's happening, no need to get into groups.
     
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  8. LouiseB

    LouiseB Cohort

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    Good ideas but I still think that the college cannot dictate how the classroom is run....unless the college is going to do something for the school.
     
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  9. miss-m

    miss-m Cohort

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    I agree with this. Even if you personally think it's the best method, your CT doesn't. So blame your college requirements. It's hard to argue with, "I know it's weird/different/annoying, but if I don't do it this way I'll fail/get in trouble/whatever."
    If she's a decent human who thinks you're doing well as a teacher, other than disagreeing about methods, she'll probably get on board for the sake of your grade/success in the program.
     
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  10. agdamity

    agdamity Fanatic

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    I was in this situation with my first student teaching placement. When I tried the techniques we learned in class, they backfired because it wasn’t what the class was used to. Luckily, it wasn’t during an observation. I ended up just teaching the way my mentor teacher did to get through the placement.
     
  11. svassillion

    svassillion Rookie

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    The college seems to be a little unreasonable here. They can't expect you to change this teacher's mind/style, nor should you. It undermines her classroom and puts you in an awkward situation. Maybe she shouldn't have signed up as a CT knowing the group work involved, but it is her classroom and all responsibility falls on her at the end of the day. I also think the program is doing a disservice to their student-teachers if they want you to avoid practices like I do, we do, you do. I'm all about higher order thinking tasks in my classroom, but traditional methods have a time and place also.

    I agree with Trademark. Make the college look pushy instead of you.
     
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  12. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Comrade

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    So I brought this up with my supervisor and she said that we will need to reset classroom norms on our first day. So this would include teaching turn and talks, group work expectations, classroom discussion expectations, etc. Has anyone heard of student teachers having to do this?

    I also want to add that I am 100% on board with the methods that we are taught in my university and this is how I want to structure my classroom next year. I will definitely do group work but I would spend time teaching students what it means to work in groups. My students are very resistant to working together this year and we've had lots of issues with it. It is tricky to have a sudden shift for the kids and to teach this way when I have never seen it done before. My program also wants us to be doing more problem solving activities in groups which is also a shift for students as well.
     
  13. geoteacher

    geoteacher Habitué

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    This is quite a strong statement. Will you be teaching through the last day of the school year, or will you cooperating teacher take the class back? My students do quite a bit of flexible group work, and having that required of a student teacher would not be an issue, but it would bother me if someone came in mid year and completely up-ended that classroom environment that had been built.
     
  14. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Comrade

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    I will be taking full responsibility from the end of January to the beginning of May. The kids go until mid-June so it is not for the full year. I also feel awkward about re-setting expectations. However, there are some things that I would need to change about the classroom environment to get good evaluations.
     
  15. Been There

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    Nov 29, 2017

    It's understandable that you're 100% on-board with contemporary methods, but as svassillion pointed out, there is still value in traditional methods. In fact, I would surmise that the current emphasis on contemporary methods such as group work may actually be contributing to lower test scores - standardized test questions do not assess what students may have learned in their small groups. I don't blame your mentor's resistance to your redesigning her instructional program. How do YOU think it will affect her students' test performance at the end of the year? Even though you won't be held responsible for using her students as guinea pigs, this is an important lesson for you as a student teacher on how to get along with your colleagues. Both you and your college supervisor have an obligation to respect what your mentor has to offer you. I hope you do what's right. BTW, what grade level are you doing your student teaching in?

    As an old-school veteran, I would put my money on traditional methods over contemporary ones any day!
     
  16. rpan

    rpan Comrade

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    Your mentor may not be against contemporary methods per say. Yes she may be traditionalist but that does not mean she is closed to new ideas. What your mentor does have is knowledge of her students that you don’t. She may know that group work does not suit a particular class. She may be on board when negotiating with the college but she has to make a judgement call and do what’s best for her class, based on what she knows about them, which may or may not be helpful to you as a student teacher. There may be a disconnect between what are effective teaching methods for any particular class and what your college says you must do to pass.

    There is room for both contemporary and traditional methods of teaching and I think both would work well together. Your job is to get what you think is the best of both worlds and use them effectively in your classroom.
     
  17. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    You're in a difficult place, Ms.Holyoke. Your program is telling you, and your host teacher, that she isn't doing things the "right way". One of the exciting (and sometimes frustrating) things about this profession is that one-size never fits all. What worked beautifully in my class one year may be a total disaster the next. Things I could never attempt with one group, may be the best way to work with another. In my classroom, I need to use my professional judgement and experience (along with input from my administrators) to determine what is most effective for each class.

    If I was told, but my ST's program, that my classroom was not being run the way they want it to be, there would be some serious conversations with the program supervisor and my administrators. It would, likely, be the last time our school accepted student teachers from that program.
     
  18. CherryOak

    CherryOak Companion

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    Maybe she'll work with you more next semester. She might be protecting you and making sure you're set up for success. Even if she is readily willing to let you do group work next semester, it is admittedly a management challenge and she may want you to doing other things before diving in. ? Discuss what needs to be seen during observations and a good timeline and game plan for introducing it to the students, ask which standards may best fit the instructional strategies, etc. By being more intentional, the changes are less intimidating. That said, look for where she is rocking it with her chosen techniques. There's no silver bullet in this world for effective instruction and I bet she has some great tricks our textbooks would never dream of printing.
     
  19. Obadiah

    Obadiah Habitué

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    I have several thoughts concerning this situation. First of all, according to Sousa, 50-75% of the students will learn with any valid teaching procedure. The key is to reach the other 25-50%. The reason the percentages vary is due to no classroom being an average, randomly chosen classroom. The reason students do learn is because people are inborn with the drive to learn.

    I do find it odd and alarming that you, yourself, are placed as the enforcer of the college policy for internships. You are there to learn, not teach a cooperating teacher how to run the classroom. On the other hand, apparently the cooperating teacher did agree to participate according to college expectations.

    I personally question the terms "traditional", "old school", "contemporary", and "new school." Historically, traditional hasn't always been traditional, and there are even various traditional methods. A lot rides on one's philosophy of education, of which several philosophies also exist. Even more (should) ride on scientific research, keeping in mind that educational research has the weakness of non-randomly selected students and less environmental control. In other words, educators are researching real students not lab rats; (although, to be sure, some research is the result of controlled research with rats, chimps, etc. Then again, just because something results with rats still doesn't mean it's the best method for humans or rats).

    Personally, and this aligns with my own philosophy of education, I find that students learn when they apply previous learning to new information. Learning includes informational knowledge, understanding the information, and using the information. Learning is enhanced through sharing and receiving information; in a classroom, this can be achieved through discussion, questions, and cooperative learning. Back to chalk-and-talk, however, at some point, someone or something, a teacher, another student, a book, a chart, or a discovery needs to convey the information. All of this is reflected in "contemporary" methods, but historically, all of what I just mentioned can be found in classrooms 3000 years ago.

    Back to basics, between ages birth-3, a child observes, in most cases through visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and through other senses, language of others. The child experiments with and develops language. The more enriching the exposure, the more linguistic become the child's abilities. The same holds true for learning throughout life. Learning is the result of the student's experience and the more enriching the experience, the more profitable the learning.
     
  20. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Comrade

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    I also wanted to clarify that my supervisor isn't saying that we should do no direct instruction or practice.She said that some days might include direct instruction and practice. But she did say that we need to do some of the ideas that we learned in our classes using cooperative learning, teaching for a conceptual understanding, and high cognitive demand tasks. Right now, the students don't do much of this and most of the instruction is based on gaining procedural fluency in math. She wants our students to be working in groups at least 3 times a week. I know this won't work unless I teach students norms for group work because we have had so many issues with kids just refusing to work with other people. My mentor took points off projects for students who refused to work together and did it independently, but I would ideally not want to resort to this. My mentor also does a lot of ability grouping which my program said we can do occasionally, but that we should also group students randomly or heterogeneously as well. My mentor also comes from a primarily special education background, so I think this also shapes a lot of her ideas about teaching.

    I feel lost because even though I want to do these things in my own classroom, it's hard to do this in someone else's classroom midyear. My mentor did say that groups are easier when we have more adults in the room. Since it'll be both of us there, it might be easier to support group work and sit with groups who need support. But I can also tell that she is hesitant to have kids work in groups (maybe because of classroom management.) My supervisor also expects me to reset norms for classroom management issues which is something else I feel like I don't know how to do...
     
  21. TrademarkTer

    TrademarkTer Comrade

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    Your supervisor doesn't sound too reasonable. I never advocate for the "dog and pony show", but in your case, that might be the easiest way to go.
    Honestly, if your mentor has hesitations about group work, they may be well founded in behavior issues. Think about which would look worse if your college came to observe: A) Doing things the way your mentor does, but not so much group stuff, or B) Doing things with all that group work, but the class is chaotic and full of behavioral issues? Managing group work can be particularly challenging for new teachers. I'm going A all the way!! I think you are too worried about the college's "requirements", and will find they won't be often enforced.
     

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