“…My student teachers have influenced so many new ideas in the classroom. Because they are learning the most current strategies to use in the classroom, I have found that they bring new ideas in the classroom that I had never thought of or tried out,” shares Master Teacher Lindsey Mills, a mild/moderate special education teacher. A Master Teacher for the past five years, Mills has had four CED students from the Urban Dual Credential Program placed in her classroom.
Master Teachers form a critical part of the learning process for CSULB teacher candidates. They offer hands-on teaching and learning in the classroom where our students can implement recently-learned pedagogy and practice. Master Teachers serve as mentors, partners, and coaches guiding our student teachers’ ideas, lesson planning, classroom management, and provide important feedback. “I decided to become a Master Teacher because I love the passion of student teachers. I love working with them and providing them a welcoming place where they can learn and grow, and try out different things to see what works for them. I enjoy allowing them the space to be creative,” says Mills.
Being an inspiring Master Teacher is something Mills aims to do every day. She tries to instill in her student teachers a level of understanding that not every day can be perfect. Reminding her student teachers that flexibility is a vitally important skill for all teachers is part of the classroom-learning process. “It’s good to be flexible and know that at the end of the day, creating a safe, loving and positive learning environment will be the best way to ensure a successful year. I aim to show them that forming positive relationships with your students is what is most important, and that it is ok to stop and get to know your students, and have some fun. When these things have happened, students will work hard for you because they know you care!”
Though Master Teachers provide instrumental real-world experience to teacher candidates, the benefit is reciprocal. Mills shares of her experience, “I have found tremendous benefits in working with the CSULB student teachers. I have found with each one we have formed a great bond and quickly learned to work as a team. They have been a great asset in the SDC setting in particular as they have done great work planning and creating small group interventions for our students who need it. They offer a fresh perspective and an enthusiastic attitude, and the students love working with them.” With student teachers learning the latest tools and pedagogy to connect with and teach students, having a student teacher in the classroom offers lessons for the Master Teacher as well. “My student teachers have shared amazing lessons that incorporate technology in new ways, introduced new fun and engaging behavior strategies, and overall just engaging lessons that help me see concepts in a new way,” shares Mills.
Student teachers have been a critical part of virtual learning through the pandemic. With their knowledge of the latest educational technology, they offer another way to continually engage and benefit the student in their classroom. “They have been willing to do whatever it takes to help the students learn and grow, and have always been willing to work with individuals or small groups to address individual needs.” Mills continues, “I think when we switch back to in person learning, the students will have learning gaps that need to be addressed, and this will require support. Having student teachers available to help pull small groups and help strengthen those past skills will be essential.”