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Home : 2002 : Jan : 26

    student teacher
    By Cathy-Dee

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    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.

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