The Importance of Teacher Candidates in the Classroom

Published June 21, 2021

As a Master Teacher, Nicholas McHatton has been working with College of Education teacher candidates for three years. A teacher of Geometry, Algebra 2 and Trigonometry at Garden Grove High School, McHatton became a Master Teacher for the professional growth, mentorship and leadership opportunities it provides. “Being a Master Teacher helped channel my own professional growth and leadership qualities by taking on more responsibility at my own school and going back to CSULB to get my master’s in Education Administration.” 

Nicholas McHatton
Nicholas McHatton

Master Teachers are a critical component of a CED teacher candidate’s clinical practice. Through this partnership, Master Teachers work alongside teacher candidates in the classroom to provide hands-on teaching and learning, allowing teacher candidates to implement recently-learned pedagogy and practice. Master Teachers serve as mentors, partners, and coaches guiding student teachers’ ideas, lesson planning, classroom management, and provide important feedback. However, the partnership is reciprocal as McHatton shares, “As you progress in your career as a teacher, sometimes you get stuck in a cycle of knowing what works and does not work for your teaching style and for your students. Having a student teacher in the classroom is another professional who understands your students and can offer a fresh perspective on creating, modifying, and adapting lessons. Student teachers can bring the creative spark back to teaching that sometimes get lost as we become more comfortable in our careers.”

Working with a teacher candidate throughout the pandemic, when both teaching and learning was done primarily in a virtual format, was extremely beneficial to McHatton. With technology platforms and tools providing the means to connect with students, working with a teacher candidate who understood that was invaluable. “My student teacher … has been immensely helpful this year during the pandemic! [We] clicked immediately in terms of technology usage. We are both avid consumers of technology – from video games to PC building – and being on that same page helped us just go for it in terms of technology implementation in the classroom … It was great to have a second person in the classroom to help remedy all the different technology issues that came up as well.”

As we shift back to in-person teaching and learning, maintaining the relationship between Master Teacher and teacher candidate will continue to be critically important for all. McHatton says, “With the anticipated learning loss that is expected next year (and in the future) having a second teacher in the classroom to help stem some of those learning loss moments is going to be immensely helpful to meet the needs of those students.”