By the time you enter teacher education, you have spent approximately 13,000 hours observing teachers. The fact that you are overfamiliar with the teaching profession doesn’t mean that you will easily find your own voice as a beginning teacher. We all know what it feels like to be a pupil and later on a student and play a role opposite teachers for the major part of our school lives. In the classroom you learn as a student how to cope with the set curriculum but also how to read the teacher’s mood and attitude. Unfortunately, some of us will leave school thinking that anyone can teach but then when you start off as a novice teacher you discover how difficult it is to find your own voice. What you thought to be rather straightforward and linear appears to be a very complex teacher’s world. So my question to you is what do you think about when you consider your own voice? How did your struggle of voice as a novice teacher begin?
Finding your own voice
Aug 25, 2013 | Comment
Thinking back to when I was training as a teacher, I remember feeling very nervous. I was training in an FE college in the UK teaching ESOL students (typically economic migrants and asylum seekers/refugees for the most part). I can remember being quite unsure about everything, thinking who am I to be teaching these people, some of whom were three times as old as I was (well, almost).
I think it’s important not to worry about being nervous as a beginning teacher, not to get overwhelmed by the experience. In terms of my practice and ideas, I found myself (and I still do sometimes) echoing what my mentor in the college did, right down to how she organised pair work and group activities. I think through the trial and error of teaching practice, and observation of my colleagues was how it started to develop for me.
Have I found my teaching voice? I think that question still remains to be answered.
Hi Barbara.. What a timely topic? I am involved in Teacher Education and we have just finished a very in-depth analysis of what we do as teacher educators by reading Teaching 2030 and working with the Center for Teacher Quality on year long seminars to develop protocols for teacher preparation.
As a long time teacher educator.. and that is in addition to my on personal classroom teaching experiences, finding your voice is the one thing that my students have the most difficulty doing on their own. As the previous post suggested as the new educator begins they model their mentors and then gradually gain confidence in their own ability.
And that has worked quite well up to now.. the field is no longer static and is moving rapidly with new technologies and collaborations as well as increasing demands on educators to not simply just specialize in one particular area.
The beginning educators I work with currently have too be critical thinkers for themselves as well as for their students and flexible enough to make lateral changes as the curriculum demands. The demands are huge.. and finding their voice is not an easy task when they are juggling so many balls in the air.
One of the initiatives we have implemented over the past few years is to increase their time in experiential learning. The days of the short practical experience have gone by the wayside and we find ourselves giving our teacher interns more time on the task so that they encounter more complex situations where they can develop their voice as well as their praxis.
For those of us in teacher education, we have had to change as well and design and embed more experiential learning into what and how we teach. In doing so, we are giving our students an opportunity to find that voice as they experience the classroom.