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Monday, July 20, 2009

The Demystification of Hidden Teaching Practices Through Mentor Demonstrations

There are a multitude of teaching practices an expert teacher utilizes that are not perceived or understood by the pre-service, novice, and beginning teacher. In the workshops and courses that we teach, Elaine Solomon, my wife, often tells this story.

“After watching me teach for several days, I asked my student teacher to distribute a handout, and then conduct a mini-lesson related to that handout. Rather than give several papers to the first student in each row and ask those students to pass the papers to other class members, the student teacher walked around the room distributing the handout to each student individually. After she had taught her mini-lesson, we had a conference during which we discussed her method of paper distribution. I pointed out that what she had done was not the most efficient use of the allotted time for instruction. I then gave her some corrective feedback requesting that she allow the first student in the row, or a paper monitor, to distribute the handouts. To my surprise, for succeeding lessons she continued to distribute the handouts in the same manner that she had used previously. This suggested to me that I needed to not only discuss this professional practice again, but demonstrate it to her as well.”

Elaine's story suggests that as mentor teachers we should not assume that our mentees can immediately put into practice what we are saying. Accordingly, our teaching practices should be demystified by identifying, describing, demonstrating, discussing, and evaluating those intentional teacher practices during the professional conversations we have with our mentees.

In the ensuing posts we will describe different hidden best practices that mentors can demonstrate and discuss with their mentees.

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