During the holidays I spent some time completing several of the modules in AITSL’s Supervising Preservice Teachers-Online Training Program. I intended to complete it before my Preservice Teacher (PST), Giulia started, but the course is specifically designed in parts to be completed throughout the placement, not just the beginning. I also completed the Mentoring Profile Inventory, which shows an individual’s motivators and challenges in being a mentor. The black line shows the average score, the green and orange bars are my results. I was interested to see that I am highly motivated with mainly systemic challenges. I am close to the average for most of the motivators, besides for ‘Time Out’ to Monitor Pupil Learning. I think this is because I’m intending to be an active participant in the placement process and I can’t picture myself having ‘time o
While it’s not the first time I’ve had placement students, it is the first time I’ve mentored a PST. Somehow I feel that this arrangement is more formal and that my responsibility is greater. Or perhaps it’s because I’ve only just reached 5 years of experience and depending on who you ask, this makes me unsuitable to be a mentor. (For what it’s worth I think that the belief that experience automatically makes a better teacher is a dangerous one). Either way, I wanted to explore some theory before putting it into practice. A lot of what was mentioned in the training program closely matched my initial thoughts about the relationship between mentor and PST. I’ve always thought it should be supportive, collaborative and a respectful collaboration between professionals, being mindful of each participant’s background. To me, relationships are the most important part of teaching, so I’m feeling confident about this aspect of the practicum. From my experience with previous placement students, I’m aware that I need to improve on providing constructive, verbal feedback. I’ve always been better at communicating through writing rather than speaking, but if I also want my feedback to be timely, then verbally is the best way to achieve this.
Target: Provide timely, relevant and constructive verbal feedback aligned to the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers to Giulia at a predetermined time e.g. at the end of each day.
What I’m finding the most challenging about the placement experience so far is simply finding an opportunity to talk through requirements and expectations. This hasn’t been through lack of motivation or interest from either of us, but simply lack of time due to work. I read through the handbook from Flinder’s University, highlighting points that I wanted to clarify with Giulia and organised to catch up with her the following week during my NIT. We chatted for an hour about unit plans, her Inquiry Project, when reports were due and what date she started her block. I learned that assessment and how to set relevant work for students to meet their goals is likely going to be a priority. We spoke a little about the Australian Curriculum and how only aspects of it are used at the site. She has previously used the Early Years Planning Framework for planning during placements, so this may be an area I can help her with. I read through Giulia’s reflections from the lead-in days and they showed me that she was feeling confident about the relationships she’d already established with several of the students and that she was keen to develop these further. I noted that she’d left student names and encouraged her to replace them with initials for privacy. I was pleased to read that she found reading through the handover notes alongside myself and the SSO’s helpful.