Back row: Teacher Mentors, Cathy Martens, Ken Rogers, Terry Roth, Kristy Kempt; Front row: Blake Vaselenak, Dustin Vaselenak, and PSIII intern, Lani Knowles, Faculty of Education Legacy archive (2009).
This article is part of a 2022 Faculty of Education Legacy digitization project and was first published in Legacy 2009.
Most everyone can relate to the nervous excitement of walking into a classroom for the first time as a new student, but comparatively few people know what it’s like to walk into a classroom for the first time as a new teacher. That’s one of the main reasons the Teacher Mentors program was created.
Designed to help ease the transition from student to teacher during Education 2500, PSI, PSII, and PSIII, the Teacher Mentors program has connected thousands of Faculty of Education students with dedicated and experienced teaching professionals who provide much needed support, advice, and encouragement to students embarking on their career.
Ken Rogers (BMus/BEd’86) has been a teacher for 23 years, and a teacher mentor since 1988. As a mentor, Rogers says he gains as much as he gives.
“Student teachers come in with new ideas, new techniques, and new theories, and they’re always filled with contagious enthusiasm. Every student teacher I mentor is another opportunity for me to reevaluate my teaching style,” Rogers says. “From the student teacher’s perspective, it’s all about having support. Teaching is often very different from what one expects. It’s important to have someone with experience guide student teachers through unexpected situations. Teacher mentors are there where theory runs out.”
Terry Roth (BA’71) and Cathy Martens (BEd’84), teacher mentors since 2005 and 1987 respectively, say that one of the greatest benefits of the program is the immediate feedback student teachers receive from both mentors and students in the class.
“Mentorship gives student teachers a reality check on what works in the classroom; it presents opportunities on how to structure a learning environment. Student teachers are exposed to successful models of good teaching,” Roth says. “As a mentor I help “ground” the student teacher’s ideas, ensure that they’re practical, and offer suggestions based in my own teaching experience. ”
“The best part of mentoring is watching student teachers connect with kids, and realize themselves when a lesson they’ve prepared and taught has been successful,” says Martens. “I want my students to rush to the door when a student teacher walks into the class room.”
Kristy Kempt (BEd’03) has been a mentor since 2004, but it wasn’t very long ago that she was a student teacher herself. Kempt says she got involved with mentoring as a way to give back to a program that gave her career a strong start.
“I had a great experience with my own mentor, and I wanted to help other student teachers in the same way,” Kempt says. “When you know you have support, it’s easier to discover your own unique teaching style, which ultimately makes you more successful as a teacher.”
This article first published in the Faculty of Education Legacy 2009.
• Faculty of Education LEGACY (2009): “I’ve heard our student teachers described as "Monday morning ready" – there’s no better feedback than that,” Dr. Pamela Adams
For more information please contact:
Dean's Office • Faculty of Education
University of Lethbridge
Learn more about the Faculty of Education: Legacy Magazine (2008-2019)
Twitter: @ULethbridgeEdu Website: uleth.ca/education
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