BY LOUISE R. SHAW
Clipper Staff Writer
FARMINGTON — First-year teachers filled Suzanne Cottrell’s class at UEA along with others who hope to be teaching soon.
Her subject was classroom management, one she has taught for the past six years to classes of 50 to 75 people. This year’s class had 100.
“It takes support and collaboration to make public education work, because unlike private school, we teach every kid that comes to us,” said Cottrell. “We need to have all of the tools that are out there to help us do it because it’s not an easy job.”
Cottrell, evaluation supervisor for Davis School District, said that before having their own classes, classroom management concepts may seem very theoretical to potential teachers.
When they work as student teachers, they are in classes where the teacher has already set expectations.
“They feel like they have great classroom management when it could have been a reflection of the cooperating teacher,” she said.
For a little more than an hour, Cottrell fit the highlights of a day’s worth of instruction in for her class.
“What I try to tell the teachers is there’s nothing that you can’t try again,” she said. “Any Monday can be a new first day. There’s no reason not to be able to say to the kids, ‘I thought this would work and it’s not working so we’re going to try it another way.’”
Things have changed since she taught in secondary school for 15 years, said Cottrell, who has been employed at the district level for 10 years.
“I wouldn’t say that it’s more difficult now, but the challenges are different,” she said. “When I started teaching, nobody had cell phones. I didn’t even have a computer in my classroom and virtually every kid now has a minicomputer in their pants pocket. They can Google stuff, they can take a picture of something and send it to a friend and it’s immediate. It’s different. Not more difficult, but different.”
The time teachers have during UEA to meet together and learn is valuable, she said.
“To stop and think about what you’re doing and the intentionality of the way you teach, I think it’s a great way to build collaboration with these two days,” she said.
This year’s convention had a “pretty positive feeling,” for teachers, she said. The Friday sessions on the day she taught were focused on helping first-year teachers.
“Those who had classes right now were really excited,” she said. “They’re great. Beginning teachers just love kids Р all good teachers love kids.”