Here are some handy hints for anyone who has a student teacher in their classroom. I trained about ten years ago and have had a few students in the last couple of years.
- Focus on one or two things at a time. Let them know what your focus will be. I had a mentor who would only give feedback about the things that were going wrong. Even if I tightened up on the thing she mentioned the lesson before, she would move on to the next thing I was doing wrong. I had no idea what my strengths were.
- Try to space your feedback. After every lesson is probably excessive. Your student teacher needs time to think about (and even sleep on), what you have said before they can put it into practice.
- Remember to praise! Being a student teacher is emotionally taxing. If they are on the right track, let them know. ‘Praise sandwiches’ go down much better, (praise, criticism, praise), as long as you can find the bread.
- Show them how it’s done! I try to showcase the things that really make a difference for my classes. Some of the things we do as teachers are subtle, don’t be afraid to flag them up for the benefit of the student watching.
- Think about what makes your teaching good before you take the student on. My best ever mentor had thousands of tips and tricks to tell me about. He could break down his technique into handy chunks and tell me about each step. He also had great advice about the non-classroom side of teaching. I think there’s a little bit of his style in my teaching today.
- If you can, make them sit in on parent/teacher conferences. They don’t have to say anything, just listen. After all, they will need to know what to say when it is their turn.
- Ask the student teacher how they think a lesson went. People often have a very good idea of where they are going wrong already and just need your expertise for how to avoid it in future.
- and lastly: enjoy them. Having someone in your classroom who has fresh insight into the new educational literature can give you ideas and help invigorate your practice.
(Previously published on the ClassDojo Thought Partners Blog)