How can I encourage a fundamental change in the way my students view the classes they are taking?
One of the most frustrating aspects of teaching future teachers is that these students do not want to think like teachers. Even though I am teaching senior-level teacher candidates who may be only one semester away from student teaching, they still yawn and ho-hum and drift away during class, like it’s just another class. THEY WILL BE STUDENT TEACHERS IN JUST A FEW SHORT MONTHS! Why aren’t they thinking like teachers? I consistently find myself saying, “think like a teacher,” “take off your student hat and put on your teacher hat,” or “stop acting like a student.” But it doesn’t sink in.
Right now, my undergraduate students are placed in the field. We had 9 weeks of instruction, now they spend 4 weeks in the field. This field experience is called “The Block.” I prefer to affectionately call them “Blockheads.” Next week, we will have a general meeting of blockheads during one evening. I can predict that they will come to the meeting, at least most will, and they will talk about all the things for which they feel unprepared. They will talk about all the things they didn’t learn. They will talk about being teachers.
So, I may have just answered my question, “How do I encourage my students to think like teachers?” The answer is, send them out into the field. But this raises another question, can we send them out into the field sooner? I think not. We already have too many students during the block and student teaching semesters for our local schools to handle, there’s no way to send more out sooner without inundating the schools.
So, what if we bring the field to them? What if my 9 weeks of class consists of some instruction by me but mostly instruction by them? What if I require them to BE teachers instead of encouraging them to THINK like teachers.
Problem solved. Maybe I’m the blockhead.