Mentoring a WW Teaching Fellow in Philadelphia
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 Lindsay Stegena, a math teacher in the School District of Philadelphia (SDP) who is currently mentoring a 2020 WW Teaching Fellow. She offers insight into how she is working with her WW Teaching Fellowship mentee, what he’s adding to the classroom, why SDP 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: In what ways do you support and mentor the Fellow assigned to your classroom?
Ms. Stegena: I share resources, past experiences, teaching strategies, and problems I’ve had and how I’ve resolved them. I share information about the district expectations and model parent/guardian contact. I also provide feedback on lessons.
WW Teaching Fellowship: What do WW Teaching Fellows bring to the classroom?
Ms. Stegena: My mentee is extremely patient when guiding students through mathematical content that they do not understand. He teaches in a way that the students understand the mathematical concepts, why they work the way they do, and how they are connected to one another rather than just the steps and facts. He puts a lot of time and effort into his lessons every day, and not just when he is being observed. His excitement and drive coupled with his ideas and the new strategies he learns in his master’s program make him a great addition to the classroom.
WW Teaching Fellowship: Can you share any successes that you feel you have achieved in your work with your mentee? If so, can you also describe a moment that made you realize he might make a great teacher?
Ms. Stegena: At times, talking to a class full of students on mute is like shouting into a black hole. He has encouraged many students to unmute and share their thinking when they otherwise would not have. My students have already shown a great deal of growth and truly care about learning with my mentee and me. I believe he will help our students grow in ways that are not just academic. He is a great role model for how to be a positive member of the learning community.
WW Teaching Fellowship: How has the pandemic affected your classroom and the role of the Fellow you mentor?
Ms. Stegena: Student-to-student and student-to-teacher discourse is a challenge, so collaboration and social interaction have been impacted. Not being able to meet in person has hindered our ability to collaborate with other teachers more often. It would have been nice to have the Fellow in my class become more of a part of a community of educators. Classroom management has not been an issue at all, but it is one thing that I wish I could have provided feedback on and modeled in the classroom.
WW Teaching Fellowship: Why is the School District of Philadelphia (SDP) a good place for a novice teacher to begin their teaching career?
Ms. Stegena: Experiences with a diverse group of learners build a teacher. SDP’s diversity allows for a plethora of learning opportunities for a novice teacher. SDP is also extremely welcoming to new educators and there is always support within the community of teachers they will work alongside.
WW Teaching Fellowship: What are some challenges future Fellows should expect in SDP? How are you preparing your Fellow to navigate those challenges?
Ms. Stegena: Sometimes students’ motivation can be low. In addition to helping navigate these challenges with engaging lessons, I support my mentee in creating connections with our students. Building connections is the first step in getting students to want to learn from you.