Thumbs up or down for Donaldson?
I was pleased to read Graham Donaldson's comment, regarding initial teacher education, that there should be "more direct engagement between universities and hub schools to reinforce the link between research, scholarship and practice" (TESS January 21).
I am in the fortunate position of being included in the pilot scheme for the learning rounds model of student teacher assessment, described in the same issue. My own experience, and from anecdotal evidence I have gathered from fellow students, is that depending on principal teachers and qualified teachers for support and feedback on practice is not always an enriching or positive experience.
Most of the feedback I received in placement focused on behaviour management. Feedback should be about how a particular lesson could have been delivered in a way that was more interesting to the pupil; instead, it was generally about what disciplinary measures should be employed next time a particular individual was "behaving badly". It is my understanding that qualified teachers are not trained in mentoring, nor do they have any allocated time in their schedules for the student teacher.
The most valuable feedback comes from the kids themselves. Their body language and attitude will provide a thumbs up or a thumbs down to your lessons. If I were not participating in the learning rounds model of assessment, I would be seeking their advice on my practice more proactively.
Mary McLure, Doune Quadrant, Glasgow.