In her first interview, Hawanatu Wurie talked about her hope of becoming an impactful teacher. Only a few months later, it looks like she is on her way to accomplishing just that! When Hawanatu talks about her student teaching experiences so far two things stand out: the support she has received from her mentor teacher and NTR staff and the value of positive student response.
What did you think student teaching would be like?
I thought that I would be teaching all of third quarter, but NTR’s model is set up for you to have four student teaching times, the first three student teaching times are for one week each, and the last student teaching time is for a two week stretch.
I like this model because it gives me time in between student teaching weeks to prepare, practice and reflect. This setup has helped me to gain confidence in myself and help me feel more reassured in my teaching.
Take me through an outline of what a day of student teaching looks like for a NTR resident?
For the first two weeks of student teaching, you are assigned to teach one class block from beginning to end. In my case, my mentor teacher was still in the classroom, and she gave me realtime feedback and coaching throughout the class. For example, if I gave instructions to the class that weren’t clear, she would draw that to my attention, and I would fix it.
What type of preparation or support did you receive from the NTR program and staff prior to student teaching?
When we came back from winter break, it was announced that during our Thursday evening NTR classes we would have the full time to work on our lesson plans and student teaching preparation. Having this three hour space once a week is invaluable. In addition to giving us a four-part planning guide on how to successfully plan for our student teaching days, NTR staff was and is always available for one on one meetings to ensure we are on the right track and to help us.
How do you feel that student teaching will help you in the long run towards becoming an effective teacher?
Student teaching gives me the practice I need to help me catch things before they happen. Whether it is a question a student might ask about the lesson or a mistake in my own instructions to the class, I am learning a lot during the student teaching days. With every day that passes, I am also building confidence in myself and in my ability to lead and teach in the classroom.
Do you have a specific moment that sticks out from your student teaching weeks?
At KIPP High School, we have built a culture around feedback and growth. After one of my classes, I asked one of my students if she could give me feedback on how I can grow as her teacher. She wrote me a letter, and she told me that I was going to be a great teacher, and that I just have to work on my confidence in the classroom.
What are you most proud of from your first couple of weeks?
I am proud of the way students have responded to me. When students respond to you in a positive manner, it gives you confidence. When students ask me – “Are you going to teacher here next year?” – it is the highlight of my day.