Sunday, 18 February 2018

Are You Supporting the Growth and Development of New Teachers?

If you're a seasoned teacher, then I wonder how many student teachers have made their way through your classroom doors?  I have been a teacher for over 25 years.  I often apply for student teachers to mentor.  Why?  It helps me remain current.  I have overheard time and time again that student teachers are a lot of work.  I have heard that student teachers "don't get it."  Well, seasoned teachers "didn't get it" at the beginning either.

I have been blessed to have a very eclectic mix of student teachers.  I have been blessed to watch them go from student teacher to supply to teacher to long term occasional teacher to permanent teacher.  I am proud of each one of them.  They have their gifts and gaps just like we do.  I know I am not the perfect physical education teacher but that doesn't stop me.  I learn the sport, I play the sport, I coach the sport.  I tell my student teachers the same thing.  As an elementary teacher, you are a generalist.  You teach every subject.  Some you will excel at, some you won't.

If you've considered applying for a student teacher from your local teacher's college, I suggest using these tips to get started:

1) When your student teacher reaches out to you with a letter, an email or a phone number, respond!  Try to meet your student teacher before day one of practicum.  I can assure you, the student teacher is nervous and having a friendly introduction will help ease his or her "first day" jitters.

2) Have a folder ready with a class list, some curriculum documents, a pen and some paper.  It's always a nice way to let the student teacher know that he or she is welcome and a valuable colleague.

3) Make sure the student teacher has a place to put his or her things.  There is nothing more unwelcoming than not having a storage area or place to sit.

4) Walk the student teacher around your school.  Take a tour.  Introduce your student teacher to your colleagues. 

5) Invite the student teacher to lunch with you, staff gatherings or after school get togethers. 

6) Mentor the student teacher.  Guidance is needed.  I often hear "he or she doesn't get it."  What are they supposed to "get" if you don't set clear expectations?  After all, the word student does come in front of the word teacher.

7) When the placement is over, celebrate your student teacher.  Have students write a letter thanking the student teacher for his or her contributions to your classroom.  Compile the letters in a notebook.  It's a wonderful gift they will appreciate for years to come.

8) Thank a student teacher!

If you would like to use some speciality writing paper for this notebook, here is a free download:


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