From my observations, my mentor teacher really pushes to make sure that she is providing the best instruction for her students. The two main ways that my mentor provides this instruction is through our common core aligned math book, and through differentiated instruction. Because our math book is based off of the common core standards, it is research based, and is providing the source of our instruction. Then by using differentiated instruction, my teacher meets all of the needs of her students by providing access the the content material as based off of IEP needs.
Then she uses strategies like turn and talk, and teach your neighbor how to, to teach discussions with peers around given topics, and to ask each other questions. Both strategies help students independence and self help skills. I think that this is a very useful lesson to teach students so that they are seeking help through other peers, which is what they also would be doing in a workplace setting.
To engage students with learning she uses examples that are wrapped around the students lives. By doing this she is communicating to the students that they actually can use a skill in their lives outside of school. I am working on practicing this with the students, but it is currently a challenge with my math classes because we are in the middle of learning geometry, and it is hard to conceptualize geometry when you are still trying to grasp the vocabulary. However, in the future I might try to have students think about geometry conceptually through art, and the lines associated with art to teach internal and external angles because my students are very into different types of art at the moment.
My mentor teacher also reflects on our teaching with me at the end of each day; be that through comments from students, or things that we both noticed. This time of day is so beneficial to me, and I have gained a new found confidence in my teaching abilities because of the wonderful feedback that I have received from my mentor teacher. For example, today I tackled a very difficult lesson on stereotypes and name calling, and right when our planning period hit we discussed how it went; where I got feedback on how I really handled all of the students answers very well, and that I paced as well as I could for that lesson. Then I got feedback on how I could have given some more examples before moving students on to help the students grasp the question a little better. My mentor teacher has also given me feedback on how I deescalate students very well, and always come at things with a very level head. However, one thing that we are really finding that I struggle with getting to is relating the content to students cultural backgrounds because of class time, and we have drafted a plan to start cultural lessons in the content areas on Fridays to help students be more engaged with the content, and so they feel represented. I will take all of the information that my mentor teacher has given me into my classroom next year, and will make sure to keep it in mind when completing my professional growth plan.