Ms. Sarah Mueller, WW Teaching Fellowship mentor: On mentors’ role
While enrolled in their master’s program, WW Teaching Fellows work alongside a mentor teacher for the entire school year. Mentor teachers are an integral part of the WW Teaching Fellowship experience—they share their teaching knowledge while simultaneously supporting Fellows’ growth.
We spoke with Sarah Mueller, a teacher in the Pittsburgh Public Schools (PPS) who is currently mentoring a 2020 WW Teaching Fellow. In this three-part series, she offers insight into how she is working with her WW Teaching Fellowship mentee, what he’s adding to the classroom, why PPS is a good district for novice teachers to start their teaching career, what remote teaching looks like in the COVID-19 pandemic, and more.
WW Teaching Fellowship: Why did you decide to take on the role of mentoring a WW Teaching Fellow?
Sarah Mueller: I have mentored novice teachers before, and I enjoy it. I always volunteer to host a pre-service teacher, and this year, I was very excited that I was able to work with the Fellowship. Initially, the assignments for novice teaching programs are somewhat random. When I found out more about this program, I was impressed by the support offered to the mentor teachers as well. I am thankful that my mentee was assigned to me because we work very well together.
WW Teaching Fellowship: In what ways do you support and mentor the Fellow assigned to your classroom?
Sarah Mueller: To support the Fellow assigned to my classroom, we make time for conversations about how and why I make the choices I do for instruction. We have many, many conversations about how things might look in face-to-face instruction versus virtually. I also frequently ask about his coursework and check to see what he is learning so I can help him and so I can learn. When he teaches portions of lessons, we talk about how they went and what we might do differently next time. Supports vary somewhat day-to-day depending on the lesson and learning goals we have set for the students.
WW Teaching Fellowship: What are the tasks of the Fellow you are mentoring? How might these expectations change across the year?
Sarah Mueller: Currently, his regular tasks are to help let students into our Teams meetings for class, and he keeps an eye on the chat and participants list. He greets the students as they come in, and he is responsible for looking over their exit slips in most cases. The exit slip review is a good indication of how much the students were able to understand from each lesson, and then we work together to revise or refine the lessons for the following day. These expectations will certainly shift as he takes more of the teaching load in the coming weeks, and I will be doing some of the things he does now as he assumes primary responsibility for teaching.