Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Student Teaching

I'm supervising four student teachers this semester, two undergraduate and two graduate students. Three of them are at Williston Central School, a 3 - 8 grade school while the other is at the K - 2 Allen Brook school, also in Williston. Their classroom experiences are each unique but they all experience the same developmental process that we all go through when we embark on a new life adventure.

Many years ago I came across Frances Fuller's Concerns Based Adoption Model (CBAM) of socialization into the teaching profession and have used it ever since as an assessment guide to the progress student teachers make during their student teaching semester. The CBAM provides me with a way of assessing where the student is in her development as a teacher. Through reading entries in her daily journal and weekly observations in her classroom I am able to tell which of the three stages of development the student is going through.

The three stages are basically this; concerns for personal survival, concerns for teaching and, finally,  concerns for student learning. Students usually pass through the first stage within a couple of days of being in the classroom although sometimes self doubt can creep in later when things don't go as planned or they experience a particularly tough day. The second stage of concerns, "am I teaching properly?", can last for several weeks or even a month or two. In this stage the student is preoccupied with her ability to plan lessons, manage the classroom, keep records and deal with the everyday demands of being an elementary school teacher. The final set of concerns are characterized by a focus on student learning and is quite a magical time. The student is usually confident in her teaching abilities at this point and knows her students well. She no longer accepts whatever quality or level of work they hand in but bases her expectations on what she knows each student is capable of  doing.

She has arrived at the point where she is concerned that each student is learning to her or his potential. This is both the art and science of teaching and is what it is all about..    

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