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The Women in Literature and Life Assembly
The National Council of Teachers of English
Editor:  Patricia Kelly kellyp@vt.edu
Volume 4
Fall 1995

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Section Editor: Secondary

Barbara A. Schaffner

Each school year brings both new experiences and old reminiscences as first year teachers, student teachers, and interns are added to the faculty. Everyone has a student-teaching story. We all faced our first class with the guidance of a helpful or not-so-helpful cooperating teacher. Some of us also have filled the role of college supervisor. I would like to focus on the role of the high school cooperating teacher and his/her role in helping new teachers to be aware of gender issues.

Obviously, the best place to learn to teach is the classroom. A knowledge of the subject matter and basic methods comes from the college courses. How to function successfully in the faculty room as well as the classroom is the area of the cooperating teacher. Ideally s/he will be able to guide and counsel the newcomers to our profession.

Gender issues in the classroom are of major concern. How a potential colleague treats other male and female members of the department and responds to them as persons, how s/he deals and copes with the relationship to male and female administrators can be made much easier with the guidance of a cooperating teacher. Secondary schools are microcosms of the world. Gender issue problems of intimidation, sexual harassment, and inappropriate comments, unfortunately can confront the beginning teacher. A cooperating teacher can help the student teacher by pointing out potential problems and providing a forum for the discussion of issues. In addition s/he can help the new teacher to recognize gender problems among students. By helping a student teacher learn how to deal with both adult and student gender issues, a cooperating teacher can influence not only the present but the future.

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