K. What is my role as a school-based teacher educator?
The role of the mentor teacher is to collaborate with the classroom PDAs and methods PDAs to guide and assist the intern in learning to teach throughout the duration of one entire school year. The collaboration should emphasize weaving theory into their teaching practice as well as practice into the theory of teaching.
The general responsibilities include:
- On-going meetings with your intern to plan instruction
- Complete ongoing observations of your intern and provide feedback
- Develop an Individual Intern Plan based on intern's needs
- Attend monthly meetings of all mentor teachers in your building to discuss program progress and construct curriculum for the interns based on issues that emerge during the interns' work in the classroom
- Collaborate with your intern to design and implement a teacher inquiry project
- Collaborate with your intern and PDA to set goals and document attainment of goals in the intern's e-Portfolio
One of the unique and powerful attributes of an intern's experience in a Professional Development School is the daily interaction with mentors who perceive themselves as teacher educators. This is a departure from the traditional student teaching model where university faculty assume the role of teacher education and public school teachers provide the support and context in which the field experience is carried out. The power of this restructured approach rests in the mentor teacher's willingness to assume the role of teacher educator by collaborating with university teacher educators to bridge the gap between theory and practice.
As a site based teacher educator, it is important that mentors become familiar with the Penn State Teacher Education Conceptual Framework. This framework provides the outcomes that both the university and school-based teacher educators have collaboratively recognized as key to organizing the learning experiences for the interns. These outcomes should guide the mentor's work with the intern as well as the intern's coursework, e-Portfolio development, and evaluation.
Being a site-based teacher educator is an added but rewarding responsibility. In most cases, the pay-off comes in two ways. First, because of the intern's presence, children within the classroom have the opportunity receive more attention and experience more small group instruction. Second, the work with an intern allows a mentor to collaborate daily with another professional in reflecting systematically on the work of teaching children within the classroom. Although working with an intern will require the mentor to assume the additional responsibilities of a teacher educator, the intern's contribution to the classroom should help balance those additional responsibilities.