"I encourage all leaders in schools to be actively involved in this wonderful process of building tomorrow's teachers. "
~ Holly Godson, Principal D.A. Ferguson, Taber
New eyes, new ideas and another level of energy come into a school with every student teacher embarking on a professional semester.
“We really believe in the power of our profession and as school leaders we need to be actively involved in the building of our future,” says Holly Godson (B.Ed. ’80, M.Ed. ‘04), principal at D.A. Ferguson Middle School in Taber. “We make time for student teachers.”
As school leaders, Godson and vice-principal Bev Wilk (B.Ed. ‘83), are actively involved in the mentoring of the student teachers, channelling their fresh energy into deeper learning. They meet with student teachers weekly, asking questions to encourage them to think about the impact they, as teachers, have on students. They help them internalize their learning by advising, coaching and challenging them when necessary. On occasion, a little career counselling is in order – whether that is to discuss options for their next practicum placement, provide advice on building a resume, or even help them decide if they’re meant to be a teacher. The latter discussion may not be an easy one but Godson and Wilk see it as their responsibility.
“Our obligation is to our future,” Godson says.
“Student teachers keep us true to who we are. They force us, whether they know it or not, to continually reflect on our own practices,” Wilk says.
By sharing their unique skills, talents, and perceptions of the school’s learning community, student teachers have an impact on the school. The questions they ask as part of their learning process challenge the school team to reflect on why they do things the way they do.
Student teachers, while they’re practicing their skills in the classroom during pre-service learning, also send an important message to the children they’re teaching.
“They allow kids to see another adult figure taking on a learning role and that they too make mistakes and it’s OK,” Godson says.
As a bridge between academic study and being a full-fledged teacher, the pre-service learning component offered by the Faculty of Education at the University of Lethbridge, in partnership with school jurisdictions and schools, is essential to a student teacher’s success in education.
“I encourage all leaders in schools to be actively involved in this wonderful process of building tomorrow’s teachers,” Godson says.