Providing a Place and Space to Learn
Carina Garret, a history teacher at Palms Middle School, has been a Master Teacher since 2007 when she began mentoring teacher candidates at CSU Northridge. Since that time, Garret has served as a Master Teacher at various universities including USC, Loyola Marymount University, and now with CSULB’s College of Education this past school year.
Garett became a Master Teacher as a way to honor the educators who helped her along her own educational and professional journey. “My mentor teacher, college professors, and university supervisor were always so giving and supportive. I wanted to honor them, and the profession of teaching. I hope to pass along to student teachers that so much of this profession is modeling, support, reflecting, and sharing … I wanted to provide others with a place and space to learn this profession with positive guidance.”
Being introduced to new perspectives, lessons, and educational tools are some of the ways in which CSULB teacher candidates have helped Garett with her own teaching practice. “Many times, they have prior experience in different fields of work, which brings an element of creativity to the classroom. I also love to see what they are learning in their college courses and to observe how new educational research and theory are applied in the classroom.”
Mentoring a teacher candidate during the pandemic was especially helpful to Garett who found this partnership to be a great help. Having a colleague to collaborate and reflect with, brainstorm, and test educational technology tools was invaluable this past year, shares Garett. Looking forward to a return to in-person teaching and learning will also reinforce the reciprocal benefit to this mentor/student teacher partnership. “As we shift back to in-person teaching and learning, student teachers will continue to be an asset to the classroom as we incorporate digital skills and tools more and more. As digital tools improve and student teachers are well versed in this language, they become a bridge to fresh perspectives and new ideas in education.”
Providing inspiration to her teacher candidates is important to Garett, who seeks to create a space where they can reflect and grow in the profession. “We learn from trying new strategies, observing other teachers, collaborating with colleagues, taking the time to self-reflect, and most of all, be good to yourself. Finding the balance between your career and personal life takes time to learn and makes you a better teacher. I have genuinely enjoyed and learned so much as a [Master] Teacher.”