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Clashing teaching styles with Coop. Teacher



I have been student teaching for about 7 weeks now and feel as though I am making great progress with the children (inclusion: 2,3,& 4th grades). My problem is with my cooperating teacher. We are complete opposites to the core. I respect her and her teaching style despite our differences but the feeling is not mutual on her end. From day one she has had a preconceived notion of me. Due to the fact that we are so different she has made it a point to call me out on things that she does not agree with.
For example, I do not believe in yelling at the children. I don't yell at the children because I know that if I start I will have to continue to yell in order to get their attention, etc, I don't know if I can be consistant with it for the entire 16 weeks of my placement. I also chose not to yell at the students because they are most likely being put down and yelled at in other situations that I have no control over ( like at home) I really want the students to feel as though school can be their safe haven ( the entire school population is at-risk) . So when the children misbehave or do not follow instructions when asked and I talk with them and do not yell, she views this as not being authoritative. Even though it has been working! On my very second day of student teaching she blatantly told me that I would have to yell and be mean to the students to get them to do what they are supposed to do. I have not yelled and as a result the students really do listen to me and are very attentive. They even see that we (my cooperating and I) are totally different and they (special and regular ed. kids) gravitate toward me when we are working in inclusion and I know this makes both of us uncomfortable. Just recently I was given my half-way evaluation, and noticed that I scored really low on the aspects of teaching where my cooperating teacher and I clash. Right now I feel as though it will be impossible to be truely evaluated based on my work effort and teaching, because my cooperating teacher does not respect our differences. I though student teaching was an experience for growth and not being told what to do, think and believe. I have no idea how to approach the next 9 weeks of ST. Any suggestions would help.

Mrs. G

Senior Member
Start with...

talking to your professor. Make sure he/she is aware of the difference in your teaching styles.

Try and make the best of this situation. Some teachers are insecure when someone new and fresh comes into their classroom. It is natural for the students to gravitate toward you. When I had a ST this fall, I was prepared for it and it didn't bother me.

I can't believe she told you to yell at them and be mean! She is not setting the best example for you. Everyone has time when we may yell, but I don't think most people believe that it is very effective. I would not encourage you to yell or be mean. Just ask your CT for feedback (My ST and I kept an ongoing journal). Try and pretend that you respect her advice and just get through this on a positive note. You will soon be finished and in your own classroom where you can use your best teaching practices.:p


I had a very similar experience last semester. My CT would yell far too frequently. I will raise my voice on a rare occassion, but like you, I knew that if I yelled I'd have to keep it up. I was not about to get into that habit as I viewed it as demeaning to the students.
I would just remain very quiet when I wanted their attention. Yes, it took a minute or two for them to realize I was waiting on them, but it worked and they would get quiet and wait for me to continue with my instruction.
My CT's teaching style was incredibly different from my own, and her classroom was a heaping mess to boot. It drove me crazy on the inside, but I just grinned and beared it 'til the semester was over. I wanted to try to maintain the best relationship possible for the sake of the students and my evaluations.
Just keep looking to a few months down the road when all this will be a learning tool. Look at is as a huge "non-example" for how to teach. Good luck to you.

BTW..sometimes do you wonder what on earth motivates some educators to become CTs? If they dislike having a ST in their classroom, why make yourself available as a CT?

Just a question I've asked myself from time to time.


Reply to UNSURE's Message:

The idealistic student teaching experience would be one in which we, as student teachers, were 'allowed' to demonstrate and apply that teaching approach which (after our exposure to MANY) we feel most comfortable and one which has proven very successful. However, our imperfect world also extends to our relationships with those in the field of education.

I am in my second semester of student teaching. I have experienced the 'dragon lady' of all educators in my first semester while teaching physically handicapped first graders. When all was said and done (and MY tears were shed) I was basically told to agree with her...if she said something was black when it was white...IT WAS WHITE!!! Unfortunately, my University had an ongoing 'working relationship' with this school where I was student teaching and their hands were tied. This school was an excellent facility for the physically handicapped and a great placement site for student teachers. My professors sided with me and my grades did not suffer, even though I had to suffer the ignorance of one co-op.

Personally, I feel that student teachers may be viewed as threatening to some educators (who have not found success with THEIR own behavioral management plan). I have had the 'dragon lady' go so far as to ask me not to speak to students (I may add here that had been OUR special time to share, have some laughs and 'grow closer') while they were eating breakfast---WHAT WAS SHE AFRAID OF??? I would often catch her (from the corner of my eye) watching/envying me interacting with HER students.

I have been told by my university advisors that very often co-operating teachers have problems 'letting completely go' or 'sharing' their students with another. My response has been, WHY AGREE TO MENTOR A STUDENT TEACHER THEN????

(This semester my co-operating teacher is heaven-sent. I can't even begin to do her justice with words. She is extremely helpful, considerate, cooperative, empathetic, etc. She has nothing to fear from me or any other future/present educator, as she is an EXCELLENT, EXPERT TEACHER).

In addition, I have always been able to share positive as well as negative experiences (via weekly Journals) with supervisor(s). I have always been credited with being able to self-evaluate in retrospect and to see the 'error of my ways'. NOT SO with my present supervisor. I have discussed this with my Education Administrator at my University. Guess her reply? She advised me to 'play the game'. If my supervisor only wants to hear positive things, tell her ALL POSITIVE THINGS.

SO-------YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Just hold on until you have YOUR OWN CLASSROOM SOON!!!