I just have a few things to add myself:
1. Make sure the student teacher puts in your full day--- before and
after school activities, duties (homeroom, study halls, lunch duty,
etc.), faculty meetings, etc. Although the major focus of the
experience is the classroom, all this other stuff we do needs to be
experienced as well.
I find that the University calendar does not match mine. The student
teacher is usually not there on first days when the class atmosphere
is being established. If this is not a major part of teaching I don't
know what is. How do we mentor this?
2. The student teacher plans need to reflect your curriculum. You
should not accomodate what the student feels comfortable with if it
has nothing to do with your sequence. Have open dialogue about why
you feel a student's plans may be too ambitious. That's why we are
the mentors. Don't set someone up for an incomplete project... think
baby steps. If you have opposing philosophies, that needs to be
solved well before hand... but it could also be a situation that
allows for new creative problem solving.
3. Encourage the student teacher to visit other classrooms.
There's always something to learn from someone else even if it's not
the art room. I learned my best lessons in how to "break down' a
skill from a phys ed. teacher.
4. Encourage journal keeping and self-reflection.(Blog if you can)
Time to chat often comes way after the fact. Teach the teacher that
questioning yourself is as important as questioning the student.
Remember, this is the first "almost real" situation for a student
teacher. Mistakes will be made ( and should be expected).
5. Truly critique the student teacher. Observe the student teacher
as much as he/she observes you and give meaningful feedback. As
Marvin says : Every individual brings different strengths and
deficits, so try to affirm their strengths and question their
deficits in order to encourage them to experiment with solutions for
small issues before they get serious.
I'm not sure I think the process we have been using for years and
years for student teaching is the best anymore(if it ever was). A few
weeks in elementary a few weeks in secondary and then they are out on
their own. Did anyone ever fail student teaching? ( unless it was
some blatant abuse). I think it's so unrealistic to expect teachers
to enter a classroom with the so little actual experience they get.
Should it be more like doctor's and architects with internships?
Yep, I know districts like to hire new teachers a the bottom of the
scale and really don't care if they have to go out and get new ones
again the following year. I find new teacher induction plans rather
inept. Meanwhile the new teacher gets overwhelmed with what wasn't
known, and has to take additional credits, and attend new teacher in
services and is asked to take on extra duties -- and and has no
time to actually deal with all the intricacies of just being a new
teacher. WE all know it's not at all like it used to be. Special
needs alone can be overwhelming. I think, if a district hires a new
teacher with expectations that this is the best candidate, then that
teacher should be exempt from anything but being a teacher for 2
years. Don' t make them take grad classes, don't make them take on
after school activities, just nurture them into the process. Focus on
the lessons and classroom environment. If observations are
unsatisfactory, HELP them. If after 2 years they don't get it ...
Does anyone else think that 12 weeks in the surreal student teaching
situation is not enough in the climate of all teacher's are expected
to do today?