An Invaluable Partnership
“More than anything else, my student teachers bring a renewed emphasis on innovation and trying new things that is invaluable and helps me to be a better teacher,” shares high school English teacher Andrea Fischer.
Having student teachers in the classroom is a great benefit, said Fischer. Student teachers allow her to reflect on and examine her own teaching practices from a different perspective. “…Being able to experience lessons I have created from the outside is a very different experience from being the one delivering it. I can more readily see what works and what needs tweaking, and how I can apply that to other lessons I am teaching myself.” For Fischer, working with a student teacher also allows for important self-reflection, “working with a student teacher also naturally encourages more introspection, as I look in myself for the things I would like them to notice or correct. (I have never been more aware of my own verbal tics than when I am telling someone else what theirs are!)”
Sharing her guidance and experience with student teachers is a way for Fischer to pay it forward. A graduate of the College of Education’s credential program, Fischer herself was once a student teacher placed in the classrooms of Master Teachers while completing her credential at CSULB. “When I got my credential at CSULB, I had a pair of excellent master teachers … They were gifted at letting me try things while still providing a safety net; they modeled grace and compassion for students while still holding firm … I wanted to become a master teacher because I felt that it was my time to pay all of that forward to teachers who are just starting out.”
For Fischer, having student teachers in the classroom as schools return to in-person learning this fall will be an asset. As Fischer shares, student teachers bring a unique dual perspective having been on both sides of a Zoom session – as a student and a teacher. This dual perspective is valuable as an educator because student teachers not only understand how to teach in a virtual modality, but they also understand how students engage in an online class. Student teachers can bring both experiences with them this fall to be even better classroom teachers. “I have not been a student during this pandemic, but the student teachers have. I have no doubt that it is a very different experience on that side of the screen, and I want to take advantage of that knowledge. I am counting on them to highlight things about distance and/or hybrid learning that were helpful to them (using the Zoom chat, for instance) as we figure out how to implement those kinds of tools in an in-person format,” says Fischer.