By Kerry Seiberlich — I’ve heard from a lot of teachers that they liked school so much, they never left.
That’s what drew me to education – I’ve always loved to learn, and as a teacher, I’m in for a lifetime of it. Currently, my learning takes place mostly in college classrooms, but I see all the same theories and techniques in action whenever I step into my second grade field placement at Brookfield Elementary School (Elmbrook School District). My courses this semester have been heavy on theory, and as a result, I’ve been thinking a lot about Vygotsky’s Theory of Socio-linguistics not only from the perspective of a teacher, but also as it relates to my own growth and learning.
It’s reassuring, how much this theory and its emphasis on language and social interaction in education tie into my own experiences as a student. This semester, however, the most commonly recurring piece of Vygotsky’s theory for me is his idea of a “more expert other.”
Experience is a huge factor in a teacher’s effectiveness. The more time you can spend with students, the better. While I’ve learnt a lot in my college classrooms and have had many opportunities to apply this learning in the field, I can safely say that I’ve learnt much more from my cooperating teacher, Jodi Erickson. Through discussion, feedback, and observation, Jodi has shared her experience with me and helped me grow as a teacher of literacy.
Seeing just how effective she is and how much of a positive influence she’s had on my practice, I am reminded that without the guiding light of mentorship, many future teachers like myself would be swept away by the tidal wave of data analysis, resource management, standards, theories, workshops, student work (and more!) that are all just parts of the job description.
Becoming the “more expert other” for student-teachers is a gift that will keep on giving to the education community for years to come. Through modeling good mentorship, educators can ensure that student-teachers realize just how important it is to become leaders and mentors in their own communities, and how much of an impact they themselves could have on student-teachers someday.
Time and time again, studies have shown that the effectiveness of teachers is the single most important in-school factor in determining student success, and experience helps good teachers become great ones. On behalf of all the students and student-teachers out there, I just want to say thank you to the “more expert others” that have shared some of their experiences with us.
Kerry Seiberlich is on track at Alverno College to become an elementary/middle school teacher with a specialization in mathematics. She volunteers in the Milwaukee Public School system in her free time and was recently elected Treasurer of Alverno’s Chapter of Student WEA.