Source: Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education, Volume 34, No. 4, p. 308–319, 2013.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
The purpose of this article is to relate the action research of a student teacher.
The research action is followed by implications for teacher educators.
The participant is a female student teacher in the last semester of a Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) degree program.
This program required education classes in order to meet state licensure requirements.
As a teacher candidate she spent 10 weeks as a full-time student teacher.
Data were collected through the participant's journals during her student teaching in a first-grade class and her reflections on those journals upon completion of her classroom experience.
This written reflection is the data examined for this action research.
The authors integrate real life examples of the implementation of self-reflective strategies of a student teacher with self-efficacy, teacher life cycle, and effectiveness literature to analyze the student teacher’s perspective.
Four strategies that encouraged positive changes during the student teaching semester are examined and discussed.
The participant discussed in her journal that she wanted to monitor her self-talk.
The student teacher's reflections of her writing became increasingly positive and proactive.
The literature, as well as her narrative, establishes that reflection is a vehicle for growth and development.
The student teacher's journaling and reflecting clearly had a positive impact on her attitude and therefore her teaching.
She then transitioned to her second strategy: talking with her university supervisor, mentor teacher, and peers.
She reflected on the meaning of those interactions and conversations and the impact those interactions had on her attitude and teacher effectiveness.
The participant utilized videotaping as the next strategy.
She struggled and was reluctance with the idea of videotaping herself.
Despite her anxiety, the results were well worth the effort and allowed her to pinpoint some areas to work on in her teaching as well as recognize some of her strengths.
The videotaping experience turned out to be a rewarding one, enabling the student teacher to infer specific actions that she could utilize to improve teaching. Lauren was also able to infuse some positive self-talk while reflecting on her taped lessons.
The fourth strategy, finding humor in her experiences, allowed her to lighten up and free up energy for a more positive assessment of the events and her abilities.
In her effort to talk with peers more, she discovered that the difficult daily accounts became funny when relating them to others.
In conclusion, the participant's practice improved tremendously after the 3rd week, and she successfully completed her student teaching experience.
Her story unveils critical implications for teacher educators in the role as mentors and supervisors.
This study is the result of one individual student teacher and her reflections about her experience during and after her student teaching.
It could be an initial step investigating the student teachers’ experiences and how teacher educators, cooperating teachers, and peers help shape the candidates’ sense of efficacy.
Teacher educators should be encouraged to consider the role they play in this process and the impact they could have.
Student teachers need mentors in order to be successful.
Mentors offer guidance, advice, and counseling, providing feedback without judgment.
The role as supervising mentors would be to seek ways to connect so that the students feel comfortable sharing their perceived strengths and inadequacies.
University supervising mentors have to be there, available, and accessible when needed to offer support to their students. Supervising mentors need to conceptualize that student teachers will attain the abilities to be successful teachers, though not always at the same rate. We have already established that teaching is a growth process, so they may be at any point on this continuum.
By practicing a developmentally appropriate philosophy, they will be more a mentor than a supervisor.
The shift in focus from psychometric evaluation to understanding the students as individual learners will create a more positive, approachable, and accepting environment for the mentees.
Student teachers learn not only from the conversations with their mentors but also from their mentors' experiences, which will allow for growth of their knowledge base.
Supervisors expect students to perform while being observed and supervisors evaluate them on that one sample performance.
A mentor can see the opportunity to scaffold the student teacher’s learning, recognizing that their experience has the potential for growth.
The mentor's job, as teacher educators, is to learn how the student teachers think and learn, as the student teacher’s reflections do, which can in turn offer growth and development for their mentorship.