The New York State Master Teachers program brought master teachers from surrounding middle and high school districts to Geneseo to host a panel discussion for pre-service teachers on Tuesday Sept. 15. Of the 625 teachers in the program—80 of whom Gov. Andrew Cuomo named earlier that day—10 from the Finger Lakes region made up the panel.
“Master Teachers is a new program, so this is the first time our cohort has been able to host a panel discussion for students,” Master Teacher panel leader Aimee Rose said. “We were very appreciative of the School of Education at Geneseo because it’s been very supportive.”
Held in the Newton 202, the event had great attendance. The audience was primarily made up of students in the education major, which is currently the largest subject of study at Geneseo. Although the seminar was mandatory for those currently fulfilling their student teaching requirements, attendees were eager to ask questions and to learn from the panel.
Prior to the commencement of the panel discussion, audience members were handed Post-it notes and encouraged to write down their questions and put them on the board at the front of the room. The master teachers each took turns addressing various questions by incorporating them into the overall conversation. This allowed for an organic dialogue to develop, inspiring intermittent two-way communication between the panel and student audience.
Advice from the committee included personal teaching stories, interview experiences and general guidance about topics such as mentality in the classroom and presence on social media. The formal topics outlined—as stated on the event flyer—were “time management, lesson planning, classroom management and connecting with students through relationship-building.” They urged students to step out of their comfort zone in the classroom and to not be disheartened when a lesson plan goes poorly once in a while. The individual accounts of the master teachers offered the audience of pre-service teachers veteran perspective and reassurance.
The New York State Master Teacher Program has a foundation teaching science, technology, engineering and math subjects. All of the master teachers fall into one of those disciplines. In addition to sharing general secondary education teaching advice, panel members provided specialized counsel regarding their respective subjects to the audience.
Following the event, panel members were available to chat with students and provide additional insight. Many audience members took advantage of this and stayed after the seminar adjourned. Tables at the back of the lecture hall were set up with documents and examples of class handouts and assignments. The master teachers’ passion for education and their desire to help younger generations succeed was evident. They spoke enthusiastically about their work and were adamant in their portrayal of it as not just as a career, but as a livelihood.
“I hope that some of our real world experience was able to give students in the audience some confidence and motivation as they continue their student teaching, as well as some extra motivation and ideas,” Rose said. “They should feel free to reach out to us.”