As teachers get ready to welcome a brand new batch of students in the fall, many may also be welcoming a different kind of student, a student teacher you have agreed to mentor! The idea of hosting an intern teacher can be very exciting as you imagine the possibilities of not only influencing this future educator, but also having an impact on all of their future students. But, having a student teacher can also be challenging! I have heard of one too many stories of student teaching experiences gone wrong.
Here are a few ideas to make sure that your mentor experience is a success story rather than a horror movie!
Build a Relationship from the Start
Just as our own students learn better when we build relationships with them, an intern is going to perform better and have less problems if we have built a relationship with them from the start. Meet with your mentee prior to their beginning date. Discuss teaching philosophies, goals for their internship, and goals for your classroom students.
Set up a second meeting to give them a tour of your school building and classroom. Take the time to introduce them to other staff members, especially ones they will need to interact with frequently (school secretary, administration, janitors, and grade level team mates). Share all pertinent information: school schedule, building map, dress code, class list, meeting dates, etc. Don’t forget to provide them instruction about using any technology or office equipment.
Give them Some Space
Provide your student teacher a space of their own, where they can not only work, but also store some of their materials or personal items. This will not only make the intern feel welcomed, but will also send a signal to your students that they are a valuable part of the classroom instead of merely a guest.
Work as a Team
The opportunity to have another teacher in your room to share the work load, ideas, tips, strategies, and more is invaluable. Make sure you enjoy this time working together as a team to discuss teaching methods, engaging activities, classroom management, and student data.
Don’t make decisions on your own without consulting your student teacher. One of my own student teaching meltdowns occurred when my lead teacher decided to move all of the desks and supplies over the weekend because she was bored. I was just as disoriented as the students and I felt useless as I couldn’t tell them where to find a pencil!
Gradual Release of Responsibility
Ease your student teacher into teaching. Have them observe you and take notes as you teach your class. Invite them to sit with you as develop your lesson plans sharing your thought process as you write them.
Slowly have them begin planning and teaching portions of the lesson, eventually taking over the responsibility of a single subject or class period. Little by little have them take on increasing responsibility until they are fully in charge. During their teaching time, stay in the class to observe and offer feedback to them later.
Share Your Secrets
If you have favorite supplies, professional development books, or resources, be sure to share them with your student teacher. A portable file box filled with some of your favorite lessons would make a great gift as they leave your classroom and head onto their own teaching career.
Speaking of sharing your secrets, what tips would you share for mentoring a student teacher?
Kelly Malloy is a 4th grade teacher in Northern Nevada. She has previously taught 3rd grade and 7th grade math as well. She is passionate about engaging students in with activities that are both educationally rigorous, but also fun at the same time. She blogs regularly at An Apple for the Teacher.