There were many wonderful things about doing a cohort. Elementary cohorts are groups of students who stay together during class loads and class assignments. I was assigned to a Nebo School District cohort, and I thoroughly enjoyed it because of the group of university students I was able to collaborate with, the advice and challenges my professors and clinical faculty associates gave me, and the mentor teacher and elementary students from whom I got the chance to learn.
Part of being a professional teacher is about collaboration and working with teams, and the cohort was a wonderful scaffold for each of us as pre-service teachers. Since there were six to seven classes that each of us took together, as a cohort, we experienced what it was like to truly support and help each other academically. For example, when one of our classes would have a midterm, our cohort would get together and assign different parts of the study guide to answer, so that not every single person had to fill out the entire guide to study from. Also, as we started to learn how to lesson plan, we were encouraged to share and borrow ideas from each other. Teaching is a collaborative career, and each member of my cohort learned to work together. Professors encouraged us and we realized that we had the same goals and love for children. This camaraderie helped us challenge each other to use better teaching practices, assessments, and more thoughtfully plan our lessons. Today, most of us are either student teaching or doing an internship and it is amazing knowing that we are all still supporting each other and when we get together for various events, we are still close.
As part of the cohort experience, all of us had the privilege to go to an elementary school located in Nebo School District to work with a mentor teacher and practice teaching real students and lessons. While there, each of us had the opportunity to teach a lesson a day, work with the students, and have weekly observations by our mentor teacher, professors and clinical faculty associates: teachers who agree to take time out of the classroom to help pre-service teachers prepare to become teachers. This made the experience so much richer because each of their guidance and challenges were related to the best practices to use in the classroom, and they also knew how to emphasize each teacher’s strengths and encourage us to work on our weaknesses.
Finally, the best part was being able to see and work with the elementary students. Their smiles, spirits, love for life, and want to learn made all the work worthwhile. They taught me that all the collaboration, lesson planning, and work was for the common goal of helping each student learn a little more about the world, and be a little more prepared themselves to be an active participant in it.
Overall, the cohort helped me realize that the education program is a tool to help each pre-service teacher feel that she or he is prepared to enter the real world and become a teacher who knows how to work collaboratively, reflect, and teach. Those are my feelings about the cohort.
For those of you who are in Elementary Education what are your feelings about the cohort experience? I would love to hear your thoughts.