Shepherding new teaching professionals or teacher candidates begins with caring for students. Naturally we all began our careers as novice teachers eager to make a difference! The sincere hope found in this flame has not withered or burned out. In fact, one of the best ways to keep the flame burning strong is to guide a new teacher (or soon to be a new teacher) through the entry-level stages of the career. Remember, we were all there once! Moreover, the support and help you provide goes a long way to help prevent mistakes you made when you were in his or her position. The true winners of your support are his or her students.
Jesus is the ultimate example of how to shepherd. For instance, throughout the Gospels, we read of Jesus encouraging, coaching, rebuking, correcting and teaching his disciples. Veteran teachers offer significant life experiences, strategies and simple “oh, I’ve been there” moments that can truly make a world of difference. As you progress through the school year, make yourself available to the new teachers. Write an encouraging note or offer a positive word of encouragement. In the process, give the new teacher a chance to experiment and try out new practices. Your presence and willingness to facilitate the growing process will go a long way!
For many, moving from theory to practice as a pre-service teacher can be both shocking and overwhelming, whether in a practicum or student teaching setting. Having experienced mentors as a consistent source of support and encouragement to answer our (many!) questions and guide us through difficult decisions makes the process feel more manageable and fulfilling. One of the most important things we can do as pre-service teachers to prepare for our future role in the classroom is to heed to the wisdom and experience that veteran teachers have collected. When walking into a classroom, it can be daunting to see the amount of technology that is incorporated into lessons, the numerous classroom management techniques and the amount of time and work that goes into planning one single lesson. Veteran teachers are our best resource for seeking guidance through these small details that can be so overwhelming.
There is no better habit of a teacher than to teach! As teachers continue to grow in their practice and become experts, they become the most valuable mentors for pre-service teachers. In the Bible, Jesus was a shepherd to His disciples and those disciples humbled themselves daily in order to learn. Just like those disciples, we must also humble ourselves to guidance and encouragement. When we do, our minds open to a world of possibilities. We also learn a vital skill of the workforce: collaboration.
As a pre-service teacher, it is extremely beneficial to be put into real-life scenarios that represent future classrooms. Teaching is a job like none other, so when our mentor teachers give us honest expectations and realistic responsibilities while preparing us for various scenarios, it means the world. I personally feel so much more prepared and passionate about education than ever before, just because veteran teachers dedicated the time to mentor me. Their guidance not only shows me that I am not alone, but that I am capable of success as I dive into teaching. If pre-service teachers can master teamwork and collaboration while in college, or at least be exposed to it, the more enriching and powerful their future careers will be. Then, those same young teachers can grow in their practice and become experts. They too can carry the flame and pass it to the next generation of teachers.
- How can pre-service teachers prepare for student teaching and beyond? How can they shift from student to pre-professional?
- How can veteran teachers keep their love of teaching from “burning out” and then be able to share that dedication with future teachers?
- What benefits do future teachers gain from learning about collaboration early?
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About the Authors:
Claire Kelly is a senior working towards her Bachelor’s of Science in Elementary Education at Grand Canyon University. Working with and teaching kids has been a passion of Claire’s for as long as she can remember! She is so excited to be the Vice President of GCU’s chapter of Kappa Delta Pi and grow as she pursues her career in teaching. Claire loves the sunshine, getting active outside and exploring new places and things.
Natalie Anderson is a junior at Grand Canyon University pursuing her Bachelor’s of Science in Elementary Education and Special Education. She is incredibly passionate about special education and loves to see children grow, overcome obstacles and discover the world around them! Her heart for teaching people with disabilities began when she started volunteering at Camp Hope, a Christian camp in Colorado that serves adults with intellectual and physical disabilities. Natalie is also the president of GCU’s chapter of Kappa Delta Pi. In the future, she intends to start a special needs outdoor ministry and implement special education programs internationally. When she’s not studying, you can find her outside hiking, backpacking and spending time with her family and friends!