Apprentice Program

From Apprentice Teacher in Training to Grade 5 Lead Teacher

By Andrew Bevan, Grade 5 Teacher, Coach, and Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Facilitator

They say that to teach is to “learn twice,” and over a decade removed from my first teaching experience as a Middle School Apprentice at Country School, I never could have imagined how much I would still be learning about teaching from the Apprentice Teacher Training Program (ATTP). Early in my career I was drawn to the ATTP, as are many of our apprentices, because it offered me my first chance to be in the classroom. I was lucky enough to learn some of the basics of lesson planning and organization through initial workshops, and the rest of my training came through observation and discussion with my cooperating lead teacher.
I learned so much about the art of teaching in that first year that I carry with me today. And still I am learning and growing as an educator because of the apprentice-lead teacher relationship. From my vantage point, the mentor-mentee relationship baked into the ATTP is one of the greatest gifts of being a lead teacher at NCCS.

The great educational philosopher John Dewey is often attributed as saying, “We do not learn from experience. We learn from reflecting on experience.” What makes a great teacher isn’t the experience of doing the same thing over and over; it’s the process of iteration: planning a lesson and teaching it, then reflecting on what worked (and didn’t) and making any necessary changes for future lessons. A lesson or curriculum is a living thing and must reflect the world as it grows and changes. Likewise, a professional educator’s practice
should be fluid, not set in stone.

In the whirlwind day of teaching, advising and coaching it can be a challenge to sit down and reflect on one’s own practice. However, the presence of an apprentice teacher forces lead teachers to reflect on their teaching practice. Apprentice teachers ask great questions and bring new ideas. Apprentices will bring a new teaching strategy to their lead teacher and ask how to best incorporate it into a lesson, deepening both teachers’ skills. The relationship with an apprentice is a far cry from the old model of a novice learning a trade from a skilled craftsworker. Rather, it is a reciprocal and collaborative relationship where veteran and early career teachers are reflecting on their teaching practice together and in turn, bettering the quality of instruction for students.
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New Canaan Country School admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin and are afforded all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, age, sex, sexual orientation, national origin or ancestry, or disability in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, financial aid policies or any other school-administered programs.