Here we are again at the start of a new semester. Many of you are going to be entering your 1st Cohort, or starting your 2nd. Some of you may not know what it is. A cohort is a term used to describe a set of classes a set group of students take together as they journey through the elementary education program. Its purpose is to guide pre-service teachers through the program with the help of professors, other professionals, and collaborative groups (fellow pre-service teachers), and to experience teaching in a real-school setting. My goal for this blog post is to inform those who are entering the education program or are already in it, on how the 1st and 2nd Cohort compare.
The 1st Cohort is an opening set of courses to what teaching and education are all about. During this time, pre-service teachers will be given the opportunity to learn the basics of classroom management, such as motivating activities and transition words, like “All Hands on Deck (one that I use) or “Hocus Pocus, Let us Focus.” At BYU, they also learn the best management is one where the teacher is proactive and not reactive. The teacher can see potential behavior and plans to address any misbehavior before it even happens.
After a month of preparatory classes, pre-service teachers are given the opportunity to put the lectures to practice as they enter grades 1-3 classrooms led by a mentor teacher, who guides them as they prepare, teach, and reflect on the lessons that they give. Of course, while preparing and giving these lessons, pre-service teachers are expected to focus on classroom management and motivation, reflection, and the classroom learning environment. All these are explained further through the INTASC standards that each BYU undergrad is evaluated on. The best part of the 1st cohort is the foundation it gives an excited pre-service teacher to lead a classroom like the one pictured below.
In the 2nd Cohort, pre-service teachers are also given a time to be taught teaching strategies, and are still expected to address management, motivation, create well-thought out lesson plans during their practicum experience. However, there is a little more required and a few differences. For example, during this semester, pre-service teachers are expected to extensively address INTASC standard 6-Communication and Technology and standard 8-Assessment. In order to feel more prepared for student teaching or the internship and the Teacher Work Sample (TWS), pre-service teachers are given the opportunity to practice addressing all the standards. While still mentored by BYU education professors and a mentor teacher, now the theory is being put to practice with the upper grades (grades 4-6). This way pre-service teachers can experience the range of students in an elementary school and get a better feel for how to effectively teach both younger and older grades.
Though there are differences with the two Cohorts, both are a wonderful foundation for any aspiring teacher because they give you the opportunity to learn in the college setting, and then take those strategies and use them in a real classroom. Use the opportunities of the Cohorts wisely and learn what each has to offer. The lessons learned in Cohorts 1 and 2 are invaluable.
As a pre-service teacher, what further questions do you have about the cohorts?