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Student Teacher: Yes or No?
Old 04-04-2008, 02:40 PM
 
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Well, I just have a question for all of those teachers who have had student teachers. The local university in my town is offering a course this summer for teachers willing to have student teachers. I am in the process of deciding whether to take it or not.

I think it is wonderful to help people wanting to be teachers. How else will they get to learn? My college was always telling us to make sure we help those in our profession. I remember the days when I was a student teacher, and am thankful to the teachers who helped me get to where I am today.

I am just concerned with all the things I hear about bad student teachers.

If you have had a student teacher, please let me know the pros and cons.

Thanks.


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Old 04-04-2008, 02:52 PM
 
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I have never had a student teacher, but I've heard some horror stories and some real nice stories. It truly depends on the person you get. I think it's a good thing that they are having a class for this. It gives you the opportunity to find out what they expect. I think that many of the problems are related to lack of communication from the colleges of what the expectations are for for the student teacher. If you decide to go for it---good luck with the class and your student teacher!
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Old 04-04-2008, 03:16 PM
 
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I agree with the communication problems. Many teachers aren't fully told by university's about what they expect. Some teachers just take students teachers so they don't have to teach. Other teachers go the distance to make sure they are being the best mentor possible.

I think the class would be very helpful. Let you know my decision.
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Old 04-04-2008, 03:18 PM
 
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I, too, have read on PT about bad student teachers.

I have had six student teachers, and only one was a bit of a challenge. The others were wonderful, eager to learn and share what they had learned, enthusiastic, willing to go above and beyond, and great with the kids. The one with an attitude just needed a little firm guidance, but even she turned out OK at the end.

I think the key is to have as much communication as possible with the student teacher, as well as keep a good sense of humor. Also find out beforehand from the college what is expected. The colleges I have dealt with give master teachers a handbook which outlines their expectations from both the student teacher and the master teacher.

I agree with PP that it's a good thing that they have a class for master teachers, and if you feel insecure about your role as mentor, it would be good to take the class.
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Old 04-04-2008, 03:20 PM
 
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You're right about helping others as you were helped. That's what "pushed" me to the 'yes side'. I have had several. While some are certainly "better" than others, I have found it to be a positive experience. I find it helpful to meet with them right at the beginning to: find out what they expect from the experience.
figure out what the college expectations are
set a timeline for tasks needing to be completed
agree on a protocol for communicating
I have found I always learn something from each experience. A student teacher I hosted 3 years ago is now mentoring me as I've been moved up to the grade she was hired to teach when she finished St Tch. Good Luck..


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Old 04-04-2008, 03:22 PM
 
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I have had two. One was real easy they other thought she did everything perfectly. It is a great experience for the most part and I would have another.

You have to be willing to give up your kids for a while. That is tough for some teachers to do.
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Old 04-04-2008, 04:54 PM
 
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I have had 4 or 5. The vast majority were very good. My last one was OK, and had the potential to be better, but was lazy and didn't commit to working beyond the school day and with school-provided materials. The key is to make them plan, plan, and plan some more. Mine was older and had experience working with children, and I was fooled into thinking he was stronger than he was. When he started to teach lessons, the weaknesses were apparent, but it was hard to get him to go back and develop good habits. I agree with you that it is important to "give back" to the profession by taking a student teacher once in awhile. I wouldn't take one again in September, though. Our colleges have them with you for most of a semester, and it's too long to have them at that time in the beginning when you are trying to get to know your kids and develop routines. I would try for the January time next time, even though test prep. would be involved.
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Old 04-04-2008, 06:31 PM
 
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Just make sure you're truly ready to give up your class for an extended period of time. I just recently had a ST and, if I'm being completely honest, I had a very difficult time giving up my class. I missed teaching certain units myself and just the day-to-day interactions with the kids.
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Old 04-05-2008, 03:25 AM
 
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There are horrible student teachers, that's true. But, new teachers need a good mentor. Someone who can get them past all the testing pressure and still encourage them to be creative. Someone who will show them that teachers are also counselors, parents nurses, etc...
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Old 04-05-2008, 04:04 AM
 
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I've only had one student teacher and to be perfectly honest, I wouldn't want another one. She wasn't motivated and didn't go above and beyond with her lessons. I think you have to be willing to do this especially during student teaching. She admitted to me that she only went to college to keep her parents happy. She only wanted to get married and have babies. We have some student teachers in our building now and some are great but others have been a challenge for their cooperating teacher.


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Old 04-05-2008, 04:59 AM
 
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I have had 7 student teachers with only one really bad situation.
Cons:
giving up the kiddies,
they will teach things differently than you would,
giving up control,
it's like having another student in your classroom at times,
students play the 2 adults against each other
this year with 30 students in my room, there is no way I could have fit another teacher in my classroom with there own desk space.

Pros:
having another adult in the classroom,
having a ST makes me a more reflective teacher,
sometimes the ST teaches me a thing or two,
take advantage of team teaching.

Consider the time of the year you might have a ST. Personally, I don't like Fall (although that might be the best time of the year for the ST.) In our state our state testing is in October, I cannot hand my students over to the ST until after that, then I want to establish content area routines, and I am still "programming" my students about my behavior expectations so I am still not willing to hand over the classroom. I'm not as willing to share my kiddies at that time of the year.

A second semester ST seems to meet my needs better because our classroom routines and expectations have been established and I am ready to share the kiddies, and if the ST does things differently, it is often a good time to mix things up.

I'm impressed that the college is offering a class in being a cooperating teacher. With my 7 STs I haven't gotten much guidance other than some papers. Take advantage of the course.
Is it possible to take the course, and then make your decision?

P.S. Interview your prospective ST and trust your gut feelings. The really bad situation I had a gut feeling that it wasn't going to be a good one, and it wasn't. I didn't turn it down because I didn't want to hurt any feelings. In the end when I had to fail the student teacher, we were well beyond hurt feelings. But I felt I had to do it to protect the integrity of our profession and save the future students. It wasn't a pleasant experience for anyone.

Last edited by Combow; 04-05-2008 at 08:16 AM.. Reason: needed to add one more thought.
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Old 04-05-2008, 06:14 AM
 
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I have had about 6-7 student teachers over the last 10 years. Only one of those was just really mediocre, but she was pregnant, sick, already had a 1 yr old and just wanted to get it over with. The others have all come really well prepared from their university, they were willing to work, were there for the right reasons etc.
I have seen bad situations w/student teachers, but I would say it was for a combo of reasons ~ the student teacher wasn't great, but neither was the cooperating teacher!! So, ask yourself will you be willing to do what it takes to guide this person while they are in your room. Can you communicate effectively on what needs to be done, planned, changed, etc in a way that is helpful, supportive, and motivating? Will it be okay if the student teacher doesn't do things 100% your way, but still does it effectively? Just remember your there as a guide, you need to teach them how to do things. They do not come out of college knowing how to write lesson plans in a real life situation where you have to deal with time restraints, curriculum requirements, behavior problems etc. You will have to walk w/them through all of this before they are ready to do it on their own the last couple of weeks they are with you. But, if you are okay with all of this then go for it! I usually come away with something new every time I have a new student teacher.
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Old 04-05-2008, 06:37 AM
 
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I've had many student teachers over the course of my 36 year tenure. Recently the university requested that I take on another during the fall semester of the coming school year. I declined,I know I'm being selfish, but mentor teachers get burned out too. The fall is a terrible time since you are establishing procedures, behaviors, expectations, etc. for the entire school year. The universities are more into assisting the ST with their portfolio and passing required tests for licensing. What the ST needs is actual classroom experience.

I have my own theory about STing. It should be more like an internship where they are with a teacher for a whole year and experience the beginning of the year, middle, and the end of the year. I think most of the younger teachers will teach 5-10 years and get out for another profession.

Of the six that I've had, three are very successful teachers, one never did get a teaching position, one took a long term subbing position and quit with less than two weeks left, she's been successful in retail management, and the last one got a temporary contract for the year and is looking for employment next year. I think I've given back plenty to our field. Yes, these folks need our help, but I'm looking forward to just having the kids all by myself.
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Old 04-05-2008, 03:37 PM
 
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I've had several and most were OK, not the best, not the worst. Only 2 are teaching now that I know of. I'm getting one this fall. The principal asked and I've always said I would have one once in the fall because that's when I did mine and they really had to look for volunteers for us. I always appreciated my supervising teacher for doing that because she could have said no. So I'm paying it forward and hope it's a good time for us both!
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