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Home : 2004 : Jan : 31

    some ideas
    By Sarah

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    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.

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