July 19, 2006
Here are some key factors for student and cooperating teachers that I hope will make their upcoming year together a little easier. Feel free to use or to share them. 1) Be prepared for the day's lesson(s). Know what you want the kids to learn when they enter the class. Start with one objective and then work up to multiple activities/objectives. DON'T OVERPLAN. The time of your class period will go faster than you think. Be sure you can assess if the students have knowledge of what you are trying to present before they leave the class. Use review of the previous day to start class. 2) Be confident and honest in front of the class. Depending on the grade level, the kids will respond to you in different ways. They will try to test you, get you off track, get in personal conversations or misbehave. Always stand firm and set boundaries. You are the adult and need to be in charge. Hopefully you will become a confidant, a mentor, a trusted adult but not their friend. 3) Use your resources. Your cooperating teacher, administration, guidance and other specialists are there to help. I never leave my student teacher in the room alone in the beginning and will interject discipline, reminders and clarifications as needed. As the process continues, I will leave for short errands and then finally leave the teacher in complete control of the class. 4) Keep a teaching journal. Write down everything from your frustrations and doubts (and you will have them) to your smallest success(es)! Find time to conference and talk with your cooperating teacher. Based on how you are feeling and responding in your journal, you will be able to professionally set up questions, discussions and assistance. 5) FINALLY, remember you are dealing with kids. Kids' hearts, kids' thoughts and kids' perspectives. When they come into your classroom many of them are carrying tremendous home and life baggage. Be kind, be fun, but be firm and begin to mold and craft your personal art/talent toward becoming a teacher!