The act of being a mentor teacher is a true honor. I know that when I was first asked to have a student teacher I was ecstatic that I had reached that point in my career. However, it was not all unicorns and rainbows. There is a ton I wish I would have known before agreeing to my first student teacher, many moons ago. I am so excited to share my mentor teacher essentials in this month's You Oughta Know!
I don't know about you, but I had the greatest mentor teacher! She knew how to balance her real life and school, while being a fabulous teacher. Ten years later, I still strive to be like her. The most important thing that she taught me about mentors and student teachers is they need to communicate. We had a great forum between us and I figured that would be easy to recreate with a student teacher (ST) of my own. WOW, who was I kidding?!?! I struggled ridiculously with my first two student teachers and I feel horrible about that. Thankfully, I have learned and have made the following changes.
The easiest way to keep communication lines open is to set up a notebook system and REALLY reflect with your ST. It is imperative that you set up a time to discuss what gets written, or there was no use in spending the time prepping it.
I allow my STs to observe and take notes the first few days and record their observations, thoughts, and questions in the notebook. Then, throughout their time with me I post questions, interview questions to be exact, for them to respond to, and for us to discuss. The questions are from my own interview experiences throughout my career, teaching in 3 states gives you some ideas. ;)
Having everything is one place has proven to be the best idea! My last three STs have rocked this process! Each of them was able to use their notebook as a great study tool before their interviews.
There is a second piece that I wish I would have known about with my first STs...Rachelle Smith's Student Teacher Resource Binder.
I hope you find these two tools helpful; I know that they have changed my role as a mentor for the better.
What tips do you have for working with student teachers?
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