I have had the pleasure of being a cooperating teacher for the past year. Jess was my student teacher, and it was such a wonderful experience.
Jess had never been in a classroom before this school year, that is just how her program worked. She started with us in September coming 2 days a week. Then, in January she started coming every day. She was so nervous when she started because she did not have any experience in a classroom. She would constantly ask 10000 questions and I just kept saying, “Trust me. You have all year. You’ll be ok.” Here we are at the end of the year, and she is a confident, passionate, amazing teacher.
After an amazing year together, we have come together to give you our top tips and advice for being a student teacher or a cooperating teacher.
Tips For Student Teachers:
IT MIGHT BE WEIRD AT FIRST!!!
Going into the classroom for the first time, remember that you are a brand new to teaching and it will feel a bit weird getting up in front of the class for the first few weeks. Once you develop a relationship with your students and teachers, it will feel more natural! Be patient.
SEL is just as important as academics!!!
Make sure to teach them those social and emotional skills to be well rounded kids, THEN teach them the academics!
Every lesson will not be a hit, and that’s okay!!!
You’re still learning; that’s the whole point of student teaching. You are not expected to be able to know everything and do everything, and you’re certainly not expected to do it all well. Be patient with yourself. Even veteran teachers have lessons that totally FLOP. Get feedback from your cooperating teachers for every lesson you teach so that you can continue to grow.
Classroom management is essential!!!
Set clear expectations for your students in every subject. Also, follow through. Don’t just set the expectations and then let things slide. Your students must know that you are their teacher too, and that they must listen and respect you.
Come in early!!!
This can help prepare you for your day, so when it comes time for students to come in, you can greet them, and they can have your full attention.
Utilize your preps!!!
Get your work done during preps and lunches so you don’t have to stay late after school/ work on weekends.
Tips For Mentor Teachers to Support Student Teachers:
ALWAYS GIVE FEEDBACK!!!
Every time your student teacher teaches take notes so that you can reflect with them afterwards. Every time I took notes while Jess was teaching, I made sure to make a positive and needs improvement list. After she taught, I would sit with her and explain my feedback. Then, I would give her the paper to make a master list with. I had her type up a master list of the feedback so that she can always reflect back on it.
GET THEM INTO OTHER CLASSROOMS!!!
Allow your student teacher to observe other classes and grades. Maybe not for a whole day, but for a decent amount of time. For my student teacher, we made a list of all of the different types of classrooms/grades in our building and had her observe at least one a week.
INVITE TO MEETINGS!!!
Have your student teacher sit in on ALL meetings when possible: parent-teacher conferences, IEP, 504, faculty meetings, etc.
Have your student teacher get a sub cert in your school district. This way, if your school needs a sub for a day or part of a day, they can sub. This gives them great experience. Also, if your student teacher has a sub cert, they can be with your class alone if you need to go to the bathroom or be in a meeting.
Practice mock interviews with your student teacher before it’s interview time. When April comes around start practicing for interviews. I have a whole blog post about interview tips and I provide you with a list of example interview questions.
I hope you found these tips helpful! Truly, being a cooperating teacher has been one of my favorite things about teaching so far. I loved being able to show someone how to do what I love so much. Also, getting to watch Jess turn into the amazing educator she is has been a blessing!!!
Shout out to Jess for helping me write this!!