I was lucky in that before I graduated from college I worked at a high
school art camp (VERY 70's, think hippies), as a teacher and 'counselor'.
Essentially that meant we bunked in with the kids and taught art classes
during the week. I knew everything (and more) about high schoolers after the
two summers I did the work (and keep in mind I was barely older than them).
So, when I student taught and eventually taught, I hit the ground running
because the nuts and bolts of discipline, studio rules and regs, and taming
the teen age beast, were no sweat for this seasoned 21 year old (ha..geeze,
were we EVER that young??). All of these skills were NOT taught by my
teacher preparedness classes, only theory. I was lucky to be able to see
'reality' before I taught.
What I find lacking with the many student teachers I have worked with over
the years is their inability to make sense of it all. What I mean is, they
seem to be "project to project oriented" and not sequential thinkers where
one idea and skill builds on another. Most refer back to what they know,
their college studio classes. Many college studio classes expect students to
have an idea, come prepared with the knowledge of the principles and
elements, know techniques and skills have motivation, and meet the standards
set by the professor/artist/teacher. I dare say my students need to be
taught these skills, and need me as the art educator to guide them. We have
a great articulation program K-12, and when the students from the K-8 come
to my highschool, they are prepared for the next challenges, where we all
emphasize what they have learned add to that and build skills, techniques
and knowledge. I have found with student teachers I have to help them think
this "big picture" through. When asked what lesson they plan to teach, I ask
questions like "why?", "which P&E's are you stressing?", "How many thumbnail
roughs do you expect?" "what is this project leading to". I do not let
student teachers bounce from one thing to another. Their ideas must connect.
It makes sense to their students, and gives them a feeling of growth and
success as they visually watch their own journey. I know in my heart, that
my student teachers will find their own 'voice' when they teach on their
own. What I hope to do is give them a foundation for that voice.