I am back on placement, this time for 5 weeks in another grade 3 classroom. This school is the sister school of where I was placed last year, but so far these classes and schools could not be more different. My current mentor is every bit as amazing a teacher as my last mentor, and with every lesson I come away inspired and a tiny bit more terrified that I could never do what she does…my mentor has a background in drama and the arts, so is very expressive with her hands and arms. She does occasionally raise her voice, but it is rarely needed as she has the respect and attention of every student 99% of the time.
This mentor does not collect books and constantly give written feedback, she does not believe in homework, and she did not mark the practice NAPLAN tests with the whole class so that students could see how well – or how badly – they went. She does not believe in making extra work for herself and yet she is very efficient and aware of the progress of every student. I asked about the not collecting books and not giving written feedback, compared to my previous mentor who collected books after each session, and she said that was a school policy, that feedback needed to be useful and practical, and grade 3 children don’t read feedback given in books, but they do listen and respond to verbal feedback. And that made sense.
This placement is going to change me as a teacher, I am going to learn more about teaching and myself than I have in any other situation. I am terrified and desperately want to run screaming in the other direction, but I can’t. I have come this far, and I will be finished my studies in November, and I just need to be brave and open for a few more months.
When I went to the induction for the preservice teachers at this school, the coordinator said “When you give yourself feedback and critically reflect, I want two stars and a wish – two things you did well, and one thing you would like to work on”, and so mentally I have been practicing this everyday. Two stars and a wish.