I am thinking a lot these days about how well I am doing as "Master Teacher."
I work alongside a beginning teacher, a "Teaching Resident." I am teaching him, as we together are teaching a class of 22 preschoolers.
I have mentored new teachers before, but this is the first time I have worked alongside a new teacher, day in and day out.
It is very hard.
Daily, I remind myself to "teach out loud," to explain the meaning behind what I do.
I am often aware that I am talking, talking, talking to the children and then giving a play-by-play.
(And I am constantly aware that the children are listening to the play-by-play!)
It is teaching in a fishbowl.
I remind myself frequently to be intentional about his "takeaway," much like I am with the children - what do I want him to learn? to see?
What's important today? In this lesson?
Working alongside a Teacher Resident keeps me "alert" and "real" - I am not able to be on autopilot.
As I anticipated the year, I was excited about all the questions he would ask, and how they would force me to "think about my thinking," my preconceived notions, my tried and true plans.
I am most surprised by how few questions he asks.
I remind myself to be sensitive to his graduate school workload, to be sensitive to the very newness of being around young children for hours each day, to be sensitive to the overwhelmingness of teaching - the planning, the preparing, the doing, the reflecting, the doing-over.
But I find myself puzzling - How to encourage questions? What does it mean that he doesn't ask them?
It is teaching in a fishbowl, and we are both still working on our strokes.
I believe in this Master Teacher - Resident model. Teaching is hard work. For the first couple of years that I taught, I know I felt as if I was fumbling in the dark a lot of the time - Why did that happen? What do I do now? What's the best approach?
I believe this Master Teacher - Resident model might lessen some of the pain for new teachers. This is learning while experiencing - the very best kind of learning.
Next year, my Teaching Resident will lead his own class of preschoolers at another public (or public charter) school in Washington, D.C. I wonder how different that will be for him?
And I will work with another Teaching Resident. I wonder if I will become more at ease with teaching teachers? Will it become second nature?