In September I moved to a new school and role, mainly because I wanted to develop my skills as a ITT mentor and add this to my CV. Through a wonderful collaboration with Goldsmiths, a University in South East London, in the autumn term we received PGCE students with a relatively small science department.
School experience one was all about co-teaching and success. PGCE students were paired and allocated a diverse timetable across our 3 key stages, students were expected to observe and take on as much as they wanted on their own time scale.
Initially teaching was like a tag-team match, discrete learning episodes lead by each student while the other circulated. This evolved naturally into parallel teaching (student teachers teach the same material to different groups at the same time), station teaching and ultimately team teaching.
This is where the magic began. The expectation was that students observe and take on parts of lessons in initial weeks. Their progress was massively accelerated, a pair (here’s a shout out to Lauren and Isabel) were teaching the main bulk of their timetables within their second week.
In the classroom, behaviour management and presence developed at a break neck speed. This development was also seen in the level of quality of their planning; really innovative, they often tried multitudes of different activities without a second thought.
As soon as week 2-3 critical analysis between students started to occur. Mentoring became a dream; students came to meeting with alternate views of the lesson, constructive feedback and even actions to take forward.
It was obvious that students seem more confident in the classroom. I could harp on about my brilliant mentoring ability here but there was something else. Their self efficacy was boosted by the fact that there were 2 of them.
What is Self Efficacy?
“It’s okay if I mess something up, Lauren will chip in and save the day and vice versa. We can really do this.”
Well, I define it the feeling or the belief that you can do something well, it’s well documented that teachers with high self efficacy are more effective in the classroom. Teacher’s taking more risks with the curriculum (Guskey, 1988) to using new teaching approaches (Gibson & Dembo, 1984) and increasing pupil’s motivation (Midgely et al. 1989) and consequently their overall achievement (Brookover et al. 1979).
We can increase our self efficacy through (Bandura 1997),
- Mastery experiences (repeated successful experiences doing it- this is the most powerful)
- Vicarious experiences/Role modelling (seeing other do it and learning from that experience)
- Verbal persuasion (being told that they can do it)
- Controlling Physiological arousal (controlling your emotional states such as anxiety, etc)
All PGCE students would lack in their own mastery experiences being new to the classroom, their only real source of self efficacy would be gained vicariously through the initial observation of experienced practitioners. With our program all student teachers were observing and teaching simultaneously and further to this critically analysing each other’s practice (verbal persuasion). Leads to a triple whammy of “I can do this and I can do this well”.
Where to now?
Two of our PGCE students were interviewed and offered positions. I firmly believe that all of our cohort are better for the experience and they all have the potential to be amazing teachers.
Well I now have the second cohort, starting to adapt the model for team teaching, by experimenting with split pairing and triplet teaching. This is week one, you’ll get an update soon.
Guskey, T.R. (1988). Context variables that affect measures of teacher efficacy. Journal of Educational Research, 81, (1), 41-47.
Brookover, W., Beady, C., Flood, P., Schweitzer, J., & Wisenbaker, J. (1979). School social systems and student achievement: Schools can make a difference. New York: Bergin
Midgely, C., Feldlaufer, H., & Eccles, J.S (1989). Change in teacher efficacy and student self- and task-related beliefs in mathematics during the transition to junior high school. Journal of Educational Psychology, 81 (2), 247-258.
Gibson, S., & Dembo, M.H. (1984). Teacher efficacy: A construct validation. Journal of Educational Psychology, 76, 569-582.
Bandura, A. (1997), Self Efficacy: The exercise of Control. New York. W. H. Freeman & Co.