Providing Instructional Leadership: student teachers, beginning teachers and colleagues
As I have mentioned before, I am working closely with a group of beginning teachers this year, facilitating a Community of Practice and mentoring them as they move through their first experiences as a teacher. This has been outlined in detail earlier on and so I will not elaborate here. The bridge between my experience working with student teachers and colleagues has offered me confidence in working with developing teachers.
Also, as I was completing my PhD at the University of Calgary, I also taught in the Faculty of Education. Providing support and guidance to student and beginning teachers is paramount in developing strong, skilled teachers. They must have the foundation to understand what it really means to be a teacher in the 21st century. It requires them to not only understand pedagogy and assessment, but also how to build meaningful relationships with their students and colleagues.
Each year, I invite student teachers into my classroom for their practicum placement. Providing the placement for the student teacher is not only beneficial to them but also to me. Providing answers to sometimes practical and sometimes philosophical questions allows me the opportunity to reflect on why and how I do what I do. For the last few years, I have acted as liaison between the University and the school. I have personal and professional connections with the Faculties of Education at the University of Calgary, University of Lethbridge, and Mount Royal University. Not only do I support my own student teacher but act as mentor to the other cooperating teachers and student teachers in the school.
Ultimately for 21st century learning environments to work, we will need to support and be supported by our teachers. Providing instructional leadership requires the articulation of a clear vision of what 21st century learning and teaching are and methods in which to engage students and staff in a new way of learning and teaching. You have to know what 21st century teaching is before you can provide instructional leadership to others.