I am getting my first student teacher next year. I have been searching for some good ideas. Here are a few of the better ones I have found.
:) Have a binder ready with schedules, policies, behavior management, class list, school handbook, 3rd grade policies, teacher dress expectations, standards, school calendar, lesson plans pages,
:) Have kids write to introduce themselves BEFORE she comes
:) Have desk ready with a few supplies such as paper clips, sticky notes, pens, clipboard, stapler, etc.
I am going to work on the first one this suummer. I am going to have a binder ready for her. I am going to include such things as our schedule, a copy of the state standards, lesson plan pages, teacher dress guidelines, etc. I think it may make things go smoother in the beginning. Hopefully she will feel welcome from the first day!
Cooperating Teacher Advice
If you are a new Cooperating Teacher, here is some advice that will help you adjust to having a student teacher.
I am getting my first student teacher next year. I have been searching for some good ideas. Here are a few of the better ones I have found.
I have been a coop and now supervise student teachers as one of my responsibilities in the college where I teach...
The desk and space idea...wonderful! They love this because it makes a statement to the students...I am a teacher, too...and coops who have made the effort to create that space...it just means a lot to the student teacher...
Think about a journal type of communication...I used this throughout my student teachers' stay...each day...I would write how that day went for he/she...then the student teacher would get the chance to write his/her thoughts back to me...would leave the journal on my desk in the morning...it then became an excellent resource for them to keep...could go back and read comments I had made about a particular lesson or possibly behavior management...
I always made time for this...just don't always get the time to sit down and have long chats...so I used the journal...my student teachers who now teach say...they have it in the desk drawer...
Also...allow your student teacher to include a letter to parents in that newsletter you send out...self-introduction gives them practice for greeting parents...they can tell a little about their college background, past things they have done (hobbies), and where they are from...again...makes them feel important.
Final word...I have been blessed in knowing many coops who are caring and really want to see the student teacher progress...however, there have been a few who have tried to include them in the "discussions" colleagues will have about each other...yes, I'm sorry...it is true...please stay away from that...faculty lounge types of conversations...that we all know just should not happen...but do because of the need to vent...just keep your student teacher out of those...some have talked with me about occurrences like I have described because they feel so uncomfortable...my advice to them has been to excuse themselves from the gathering...
Other than that...thanks to all of you who take on the responsibility of teaching the next generation of teachers...they are so excited about getting into the profession...it's our responsibility to make sure they stay excited and positive!
I'm still currently student teaching, so I think this question is right up my alley. :)
As far as the gradebook is concerned, it must be dependant on the state you live in because my CT's allowed me to do all the grading for my classes, which I think is also important. ST's need to know what it is like to grade things and/or enter grades into the school's computer system.
First and foremost, make sure you introduce your ST as a fellow teacher, not a student teacher. Students, no matter what age, will only hear that he/she is a student and may not give her the respect she deserves as a teacher if they know he/she is not technically a teacher. I had 2 CT's - one who introduced me as a student teacher, the other who just introduced me as a visiting teacher who would be here for 2 months. I'm sure you can guess which class gave me the proper respect.
Second, the desk space is definitely important. He/she should feel welcome there, even though it is still technically your classroom, they will be there for a while so it is important. One of my CT's does not allow me any space for her at her desk so I have to sit among the students. It is incredibly hard to feel like "one of the teachers" if I have to sit with the students.
Third, one of my CT's allowed me to make copies of everything she had - lesson plans, ideas, worksheets, activity sheets - everything. Even though I don't plan to teach that particular grade level, I know I'll be ready just in case I do end up teaching it. Be generous and share everything you have.
Hope this helps and good luck to both of you!
I just completed my student teaching experience two weeks ago. Helpful hints that I could offer to you:
1. I agree - please try to give your ST their "own" space. My CT had a small desk in the back of the classroom for me and I was so happy. My college required me to full-time teach for four weeks and I needed the space.
2. Allow your ST to ask any questions. My CT was available 24 hours a day if I needed her. Student teaching is daunting because you are there as a visitor and feel as though you are invading. A friend of mine had to transfer schools mid-semester because her CT was not helpful and did not answer any questions for her. Honestly - she was downright rude!
3. Try to explain to your students what the ST is doing. The CT and I explained to the students that I was still learning - as they were - but I was also an equal - especially when I was teaching. I think the students get confused when the teacher tries to teach as the ST is teaching.
4. Give her/him time alone in the classroom. I know it is hard for CT's to release their room to a student but the best experience we have is when we are alone with the kids. My CT was great - after the first couple weeks she was allowing me to be in the room by myself and I believe that I learned more during the time I was alone with my students. Especially with the classroom management.
5. The best advice I can offer - be supportive! Remember that we are still students and we are going to make mistakes. Let us have our bad days - and trust me there are many. We still have requirements outside of the teaching.
Good luck and you will be fine!
I know when I went through my student teaching I also wanted to ensure once I began my teaching career to offer my classroom as a learning place too. However once you actually do start teaching, having a student teacher is a responsibility that sometimes is hard to take on. I've been teaching 8 years now and I will be having my first student-teacher at the end of January and I'm looking forward to it.
However I can see why some teachers hestitate to have a student teacher in their classroom. First a cooperating teacher has to be willing to share their time and knowledge (not always easy for some) and then they have to be willing to let go of their class for a short time (also not easy for some). I think the comment made about someone following them around was not meant necessarily in a negative way, but in that as a teacher you have someone watching you and everything you do. From being observed by Principals as part of my contract and certification requirements it is not always enjoyable having someone observing you. And some teachers feel they have to be "perfect" if they have a student teacher so they do not allow themselves the experience.
I do hope that there are always teachers willing and able to share their knowledge and teaching styles with those learning the profession. I'm glad you have had positive learning experiences with your student teaching. It sounds like you were well prepared to go into the classroom to learn. However there are those few student-teachers who require more guidance and in fact do follow the teacher around quite a bit so perhaps the teacher who made the original comment had a negative experience with a student teacher or knew someone who did. I believe it is important that any teacher who offers their classroom as a learning experience for a student teacher should be prepared and organized to assist the student teacher in all areas. It would be worse for a student teacher to be "forced" onto a teacher who didn't really want to have a student teacher in their room.
I have just finished my first placement and also had a positive experience. My Cooperating Teacher included me in all activities, asked my opinion, and made me feel as though I was part of the group no matter where I was in the school (in the classroom, teacher's lunch room, etc). One thing he also did was on the first day. He told the students that now there are 2 teachers in the classroom, so that when I am speaking, they would behave well and have to listen to me. He really made me feel comfortable and important.
He also gave me very positive and useful feedback when I taught in front of the class. He would ask me beforehand what I wanted him to watch for. I learned so very much from him. He gave so much of himself. I always felt comfortable asking him questions and he always had time for me.
I am happy that you want to do your best with your student teacher. I can imagine that it's a difficult task with tremendous responsibility. I thank you on behalf of student teachers !!!
I have had many student teachers and have really enjoyed the time with them for the exception of two. I always have a place (hopefully a desk) that they can call their own space. My room is wide enough that the desk can be up front on the left side of the room across from mine. I want the students to see that we are a team. The first day is mainly for observation and getting setted in, but I give them an opportunity to read a story to the children. This also gives me an idea of how the student teacher interacts with the students.
At the end of the first day, we sit down and talk about expectations. They often have objectives that they have to meet such as a unit plan etc. I expect my students to complete "detailed" lesson plans complete with objectives, standards, and easy to follow plans. I do not accept lesson plans that they found on the internet and just print them out. I want to know that they are capable of using the materials we have in the classroom and how they are going to incorporate them into a lesson. I certainly welcome them using technology, but not to just get a quick lesson.
Ask for written plans at least three days before the lesson is going to be taught so that you have time to read them, discuss them, and see any revisions before the lesson day. Under no circumstances should you allow a student teacher to just "wing it". Lesson plans are a must. As a lesson is being taught, I write comments in a spiral notebook that is meant for my ST and myself. It is up to the ST whether the info is shared with the college superivisor. This helps me remember the good as well as the bad to discuss with her afterwards. She/He are also encouraged to take it home, read it over again, and write questions they would like me to answer.
Have fun, but set professional standards. Expect your ST to dress professionally and to act as a professional toward the students. They are not their best friend or their babysitter. Encourage them to become involved in schoolwide activities or to help another coworker with a simple project. (putting up a school community bulletin board, attending Open House, helping with a book fair etc.) If these occur, be sure to include those in their recommendation letter to a prospective employer.
I always tell my students if they have a lousy lesson, that it is OK. Take time to review what was good and what need changed and then teach it again. That's what good teachers do.
If you do have a bad experience, don't hesitate to contact the college supervisor to help you. I had have two girls who never should have made it as far as they did, but most have been amazing and we have had so much fun.
Good luck with your new experience. You'll be surprised how much YOU learn too!
A few other nice things to include might be...
- copies of your year plans - nice for your student teacher to see how you plan and where they fit into the schedule
- copies of your unit plans or at least a guideline as to what the topics will be during their teaching time.
I agree with the last post - talk with your student teacher daily if possible. During my student teaching, the most successful ones were the ones where I had a lot of feedback. During my most important (longest) one, I rarely saw my cooperating teacher. I met with him about 3 times over an 8 week period. He left the school when the kids did.
Whenever possible try to include your student teacher in your activities or school activities outside the classroom. For example if you belong to any school or district committees or participate in after-school events. This gives them a much broader view of everything that happens within a school. Hopefully they will be a part of the lunchroom, staff meetings, etc.,
Have fun, I really enjoyed my first student teacher and hope to have another one next year if it works out.
On a personal note - be prepared for your time-lime to be off a bit. Things just seemed to take longer with my student teacher doing the teaching. She wanted to try things, do a lot of activities, etc., it was great for my kids and for her, but we did get a bit behind in a couple of subject areas. So I had to modify those units to make sure I touched all the main bases.
I have a couple of questions and suggestions.
I know as a cooperating teacher we feel a lot of responsibility when we have a student teacher. And depending on how our student teaching was very much reflects on what we do as cooperating teachers.
Is this your student teacher's first student teaching experience?
If so she is bound to be nervous and may actually be more nervous the more you suggest things to her. She may be feeling that all your suggestions mean that she's not good and this will foster her nervousness, etc., While suggestions are good, I think sometimes asking questions and letting the student teacher do the reflecting is better for them. And as we do with our students, it's important to find the good things she can do and point those out as well. It's amazing what a little praise can do for one's outlook.
This first experience although you should still guide her, should be a place where she can feel comfortable, make lots of mistakes and learn from them. And I like to let them do a lot on their own without too much of my influence. My style works for me, but it may not work for someone else. Usually in the first experience they spend more time observing especially their first week and by the end of their time should only be teaching about 50% of the time and with a fair amount of support.
The nervousness will fade in time. Some people are just nervous to begin with, while others enter student teaching geared up and ready to fly. I think we always have to take in account different personalities and try hard not to put expectations on a student teacher that is based on our own philosophies and experiences. I myself am very outgoing and have really not had too many problems with maintaining classroom discipline. My first student teacher was opposite of who I am. But over the weeks I really learned from her too, she has a much more quiet approach and she was also very creative.
One approach that really seemed to work was this. After a lesson she did we sat down after school to reflect. It was a bad lesson for her, the students were distracted, not listening and she didn't know how to pull them back on task. I didn't offer any comments or solutions, I just asked her what she thought about the lesson. She picked out the main problems quite easily. Then I said, tomorrow I will teach the same lesson, I went on to explain that although I'm still learning myself and trying new things, there were some things I would do during the lesson especially with keeping the students on task I wanted her to watch and make note of. Then on the third day she would redo the lesson one more time (this was math by the way) and try some things she saw that she felt she would be comfortable with. That third lesson was wonderful. She didn't do things that I did that she didn't feel comfortable with, but she did see things she was fine with and did try. Between her own strengths and learning some new techniques she did well. And it wasn't me just simply telling her you should have done this or you should do it this way. It's important for any teacher to find their own way to do things by watching experienced teachers, reading, inservices, etc.,
Now on another note, you may be right and she might not be ready, unfortunately she doesn't have a choice when she student teaches or not. You may want to talk with her University facilitator to get their advice as well. Your report and comments are very important and can influence her future jobs especially that first one.
Good luck, she is lucky to have someone who obvious cares about what she learns and also about the teaching career as a whole. I think it is very important if someone decides to be a cooperating teacher to put effort into it. I had one terrific cooperating teacher and one not so terrific one. While I learned from both, it was that first one that really made a difference for me.
I will tell you about what made one of my cooperating teachers really helpful and memorable when I was practice teaching four years ago:
- she called my home just before I started and gave me a personal welcome (a little thing that really helped to set me at ease and feel welcome)
- she gave me my own place in the classroom- a student desk where I could sit to observe and keep my plans, etc. (none of my other cooperating teachers did this!)
- she introduced me to the other staff in the lunchroom the first day, took me to staff meetings, helped me get involved in extra-curricular activities
- she had an informal workbook for me; whenever I did a lesson, she would jot comments in it- positives and suggestions, and would give me specific tips (e.g. how to better pass out papers)- I still have this notebook!
- she let me go into other classrooms while at the school to observe and assist
- she was ALWAYS positive to me- even if I had a poor lesson, she understood that I was learning, and didn't judge me (and I didn't have much confidence at first)
- she made a big deal when I left and had a surprise goodbye party (not that I expected or deserved it, but it made me feel that my time there was worthwhile and left me with a permanent connection to the class and her)
- she wrote a very personalized reference letter and mentioned specific accomplishments
It is hard as a student teacher to come into a classroom with an established management system because basically you have to follow whatever the teacher does- you can't change everything while you are there. Thus, even if your own style would be different, you basically mimic the teacher. So it is really crucial for the cooperating teacher to support any discipline that the student teacher does. (This is one of the toughest areas for a student teacher anyway, I think.)
Now, some of my friends were in classes where the cooperating teacher wanted all their lesson plans well ahead of time, but I always appreciated the trust she gave me. For the first week, she checked my lesson plans and then she left it as, "If you want me to, I'll check them" but didn't expect them.
I think the cooperating teacher can really turn a student teacher on to teaching, or discourage her, and in my case I am so thankful that my first real classroom experience was with such a caring, positive and supportive educator.