As a Cooperating Teacher you are one of the most important participants in a student teaching program. Without mutual understanding and respect any program would be ineffective. Thank you for guiding and giving direction to activities, methods and techniques used by the student teacher in her/his teaching process.
It seems that more and more cooperating teachers are feeling nervous and inadequate by having a student teacher in the classroom. So I have decided to address this area and put teachers more at ease by helping them understand their role in shaping future teachers.
Take time to know the student teacher as a person, separate from the class. Make the student teacher feel part of the classroom by introducing him/her to the class, as a student teacher. Be honest and say that he/she will be learning how to become a classroom teacher by watching, listening and teaching the students in the classroom. Have the student teacher read a book to the class as an ice breaker. (Give him/her hints as to what the class' favorite author might be.)
The role of the cooperating teacher is to serve as model, guide, and instructor for the student teacher. While the primary responsibility is always to the students in the classroom, you will want to be aware that the student teacher is someone who is growing in competence and needing assistance while gradually assuming an increasing amount of responsibility. Though student teachers will make mistakes and need the benefit of constructive criticism, cooperating teachers will want to avoid making the criticism publicly in such a way that impairs the relationship between student teacher and students in the classroom.
Sometimes the cooperating teacher, as time goes on, thinks of the student teacher as a 'ticket out of the classroom'. This isn't suppose to be. You, as a cooperating teacher, need to give feedback to the student teacher. Reveal the strengths of a lesson along with the weaknesses. If not, the experience learned will not prepare her/him for the tasks and in the future as a classroom teacher.
One of my worse memories is having to tell a student teacher that she was not cut out to be a teacher. She couldn't plan lessons that students could follow, she couldn't get through to the kids, had no class management, and always had excuses why she was late. When I brought this up to her, sadly enough, she agreed that this isn't what she wanted to do, anymore. I had already extended myself to helping her in any way, shape or form. But because I was honest with her, she became honest with herself. She is now very successful in a business career.
Another time I had a wonderful student teacher. He was perfect. He taught great, fun, meaningful lessons, related to the kids well, and had super management skills. But, there was one flaw. When he spoke he wouldn't always pronounce his words correctly. I did correct him and told him to work on this. He really improved. So much that I recommended him for a teacher's position that was open. He went to an interview with a committee who was appointed to oversee new hiring's. When speaking to him, he became nervous and went back to his old way of speaking. The feedback was, "How could we hire a teacher who can't speak correctly, to teach our students? Who recommended him?" I felt horrible. This was suppose to be a second career for him and he had just completed the Master's Program at a University. Can you imagine? Nobody, up until me, including the University, was ever honest with him about how he spoke. If they were he would of had years of practice and never would of forgotten what I tried to teach him in 10 weeks. He never became a teacher.
I did have lots of student teachers who did work out. So don't get discouraged. Many were hired by my school district. Those are just two cases that really stick out in my mind after 34 years of teaching. I am retired for almost two years now and have such tender memories .
Here are some simple rules to help you.
1. As the cooperating teacher you must provide an open environment in which your student teacher is able to make mistakes without fear of judgment.
2. Steer them gently into more useful practices when mistakes are made.
3. Have the student teacher carry and record in a notebook things that are felt to be important in a classroom setting. How do you begin each morning, how do you greet the students, handle problems, homework, etc. Supervise and make notes on anything that you think you and your student teacher need to discuss regarding their teaching during your planning period or at the end of the day, making sure you give lots of positive feedback. It's all about encouragement.
4. Never assume that your student teacher knows anything, that includes the CONTENT they are going to teach.
5. Teach your student teacher how to incorporate the standards used in your state if applicable.
commitment to modeling for the student teacher a system of classroom management.
Require them to do their own classroom and behavior management as well.
7. Provide any pointers for managing those mountains of paper we all know and love. Include information on grading, filing, and parent communications.
8. Stress the importance of parent involvement and community relations, such as weekly class newsletters, class web pages, etc. Even joining the PTA or PTO helps get their name out in the community.
9. Don't walk out
and leave him/her alone! Meet regularly with the student teacher to plan
lessons and then to provide feedback on the observed lessons.
10. Be sure to provide emotional support as well as a presence in the classroom, too.
I'm sure you will have much success as a cooperating teacher. Just remember your experiences and how well everything went, or didn't go. Your love for teaching will always come through to the student teacher and make the experience well worth while. You will then look back and realize that you have helped shape another successful teacher.
Below are some links to also help guide you through this and share with your student teacher. Print out any helpful information.
|Tips for Cooperating Teachers
|A Teacher's List -- 10 Tips for Classroom Volunteers : February
|Teachers Helping Teachers
|Teachers - Tips, Article, Classroom Management and Lesson Plans