Student teaching can be a daunting, nerve-wracking experience. Unfortunately, I don’t remember my own student-teaching days with fondness. We do learn, however, in every situation. I came away from the 18-week episode with a vow that-when I eventually became a mentor-I would make sure my student teachers had a much better encounter. Through the years I have welcomed many student teachers into my classroom. As supervising teachers, we are preparing potential educators for the classroom. We can make or break a student teacher’s spirit.
Involve the student teacher in every facet of your job. Introduce her to all school personnel. Ask her to sit in on parent and student conferences and faculty meetings. Include her when you meet with the dean or counselor in regard to particular students. She is part of your team while under your supervision and should be treated as such.
Don’t expect your student teacher to be a clone of you. He will have his own teaching style and will be anxious to try out new methodologies. Discuss the expectations on both sides. Allow him to develop his own techniques. Some of the best inspirations incorporated into my routine originated with my student teachers. They have fresh, exciting ideas to offer.
Student teachers need guidance, but advice should be given in a caring manner. Never interrupt her as she is instructing students. This will undermine her authority in the eyes of the students. Instead, take notes and discuss the pros and cons of the lesson at a later time. Teach her to focus. One of my student teachers corrected a fifth-grade writing assignment. The students were shocked and upset at the sea of red ink on their papers. That teacher learned a valuable lesson about focusing on particular skills.
Mutual respect is of the utmost. The student teacher should be witnessing this between you and your students. Show him that parameters need to be set; however, discipline must occur within the boundaries of calmness and consideration. Some new teachers are inclined to be ‘buddies’ with the students. Demonstrate by example that an aura of authority must consistently be maintained. Be sure the classroom is neat and organized. New teachers will learn a lot about organization in a classroom that flows smoothly.
Once assigned her own classroom, a new teacher is generally too overwhelmed to gather helpful resources. Encourage your student teacher to take advantage of this current learning opportunity. She can create a file that includes good ideas such as pictures of bulletin boards that are on display throughout the school-given owners’ permission, of course. It’s a good time for the media specialist to explain the latest technology used in today’s schools…you may even want to sit in on those lessons. Set up observations of other teachers in various grade levels, and arrange for her to shadow counselors and administrators. The teaching candidate can gather advice from all faculty members, not just you.
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