Saturday, September 13, 2014

You Oughta Know

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. ;)

I also use the journal to observe and reflect on lessons that my STs teach.  I love being able to give them additional thoughts to ponder.

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.
This product is full of amazing organizational tools to help you and your ST stay on track.  I love how easy it is to set up and differentiate depending on the needs of each ST.  We all know that EVERY ONE of them is different!!!
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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  1. This is such a genius idea!! I've only had short term student teachers before, but if I ever get one again for longer I will remember this!!

    Learning to be awesome

  2. I love this idea! I was given my first student teacher my second year of teaching (Yikes - It was not good for either of us!) There was a lot going on in my situation, but a tool like your journal would have helped us so much. I will keep this in mind for the future!


  3. Brilliant! Yes, there is definitely more to this job of mentoring if you do it the right way than many people realize. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Being a second year teacher, I've still got a ways to go before I ever get a student teacher, but I just love the idea of the journal!! Brilliant! And I'm sure it is super helpful for the student teacher as well!!

    Mrs. Cain's Creations

  5. Thank you for these wonderful tips! I'll be mentoring an education student this year...she's not quite to the ST role yet, but I love the idea of having her journal her observations and experiences. Perfect timing for this post :)

  6. That journal is awesome! I so wish my mentor teachers took more of an active role like that. It would have been so helpful to think about a lot of those interview type questions throughout student teaching and then have them to look back on. I love that it focuses each day a bit too, because I'd often find myself wondering what I should be taking note of, or what I should be doing! Thanks so much for sharing. When I go back into the classroom I will have to remember this for sure!

  7. I love this tool! I had my first student teacher last year and it was very hard to even know where to begin. This would have been so helpful - I will definitely use it in the future.

    Living the First Grade Dream

  8. This is such an amazing post! I've wanted a student teacher for quite some time, but I honestly don't know how to work with one. Thank you so much for your suggestions. I love the fact that you have a communication log/journal between yourself and the student teacher. Thanks again for linking up!

    Buzzing With Mrs. McClain

  9. Such wonderful tips for having a student teacher. I love how you pose questions from the very beginning. I think that would make the first few observations very helpful. It's difficult for some student teachers to really know what to look for during those first few days. Thanks for sharing!

    Techie Turtle Teacher

  10. Thank you for sharing this resource. I supervise student teachers and work with cooperating teachers as part of my university work. I love it. I am looking forward to sharing this resource with my teachers. Teaching Science With Lynda

  11. I've pinned this to be able to find it quickly! Great ideas here! Thank you so much!

    The Purple Teacher