Student teacher programs are designed to provide students enrolled in a teaching program with hands-on experiences to practice their teaching methods. In these programs, they are paired with experienced teachers who work as a mentor to guide the student teacher through her first teaching experiences. In exchange for their support, mentor teachers are provided with an extra pair of hands that can help them to better serve their students. Serving as a mentor to a student teacher is an honor that speaks of a teacher’s qualifications and experience. To help their student teacher get the most out of the program, mentors can utilize the following techniques.
Provide an Orientation
When a student teacher first comes to a school, they will most likely know very little about the school’s policies. During their first meeting, it is best for a mentor teacher to show the student around the school. Be sure to point out important areas such as the supply room, main office and break area. It is also important to introduce the student teacher to other staff members. While they may have already met the principal, it will probably by necessary to introduce them to other members of the grade-level team. Spend a few minutes going over important information as well. Many student teachers find it helpful to keep a binder with information such as class schedules, school policies and discipline methods. This can give them a reference to use in instances where the teacher may be out of the classroom.
Slowly Hand Over the Reigns
Mentor teachers should begin by modeling their teaching methods for the student teacher. Allowing the student teacher to slowly acclimate to the classroom will also let them get to know the students in the classroom. Most student teachers have only practiced teaching in simple environments such as in their college classroom. For this reason, it is important for a mentor teacher to stay close by during the first few student teaching sessions. As the student teacher becomes more comfortable, the mentor can begin to let them take over more aspects of the teaching. Student teachers should not only deliver lessons to the class, but they should also help to plan the lessons, participate in important meetings and assist in parent conferences. This will enable them to gain experience in completely managing a classroom.
Provide Constructive Feedback
A major part of mentoring a student teacher is observing their teaching style and evaluating their techniques. Mentors should spend a few hours informally observing the student throughout the week. They may take notes, ask questions and complete forms that track a student teacher’s progress. However, it is important to make sure that the student teacher is given complete respect in front of the students. Feedback should always be given when the students are out of the classroom. Then, it is also important to make sure that only constructive criticism is provided regarding a student teacher’s performance. If a negative point needs to be discussed, then a solution should also be offered. Additionally, it is important to take note of the positive things that a student teacher does in her lessons. This will help to foster the relationship between the mentor and the student teacher.
Student teaching is an important part of every teacher training program. During their student teaching, a prospective educator is immersed in experiences that will help to refine their teaching techniques. Mentoring a student teacher is an honor that should always be taken seriously. For this reason, mentors should always take the time to orientate their student teacher to the school, provide support that gradually tapers off and offer constructive feedback that will enable a student teacher to be successful in their endeavors.
Faith Strickland is an educator and contributed to the Top 10 Best Online Masters in Teaching Degree Programs for people interested in becoming teachers.