Monday, February 27, 2017

Quick Tips- Working with a Student Teacher

I currently have my first student teacher and it has been an awesome learning experience for us both so far. I only student taught Middle and High-School Choir so elementary student teaching was brand new for me AND Emily!  She is only here for 1 more weeks and Wilson will really miss her.

1. Before your student teacher arrives make a binder or shareable folder with songs, year-plans, lesson templates, resource lists, lesson ideas and more.  I copied many of my retrievals for Emily- especially songs I was currently using, and shared with her many of my google drive folders with Present Lessons, year plans, PPPs (prepare-present-practice sheets), powerpoints I use often and more.  Be sure you do NOT share any copyrighted materials though a file-sharing service like google drive or dropbox.  She has access to my computer to use some of my TPT files that I have purchased, but she will not be able to take them with her.  I did share with her some of the files that I have made for my own store.  I also gave her free access to use or borrow any of my favorite resources like American Methodology, Game Plan, and First We Sing.

2.  Week 1- have your student teacher observe and give him/ her SPECIFIC questions to answer or lists to make.  As my student teacher watched my lessons her first week I had her watch for something different each day and make a list of all the ways she noticed I did things.  She made lists for: How to teach a song, transitions, ways to practice rhythms, ways to practice solfege, ways to sight-read a song, feedback I gave and more.  Then, as she is making her lesson plans she can refer to these lists to keep things fun and interesting for students.

3.  Have a feedback worksheet so that you can give feedback quickly and effectively.  I made a worksheet with boxes for: feedback she gave to students (was it positive, negative, helpful, etc), pacing, classroom management, and overall lesson notes.   This way, I can jot stuff down while she is teaching each class and we can talk at lunch or after school and I won't forget what I saw.  If I don't write it down, I will forget to say some things with no time between classes to talk!  Get the worksheet I use for free HERE.  Especially as your student teacher gets more comfortable, try not to step in while they are teaching- just write everything down.  Give them the chance to succeed - but also to crash and burn and figure out how to fix it.

4. Get your student teacher involved and teaching as soon as possible!  By the end of her first week, My student teacher was reading the story books during class so students could get used to her.  The next week she took over teaching one activity in each class.  The next week she taught half of most of the lessons which we planned together.  The following week she took over 1st Grade, 4th grade and 6th grade and kept teaching half of each of the other grades (2, 3, an 5) and finally she started teaching ALL of each class.  For a while we planned together but now, in her 7th week, she plans everything and I just check it over to look for possible problem spots.

5. Give your student teacher freedom to decide "what's next."  I planned my year so that as soon as Emily arrived many grades would have just finished either a rhythm or solfege concept so that Emily could do a full Prepare-Present-Practice cycle with them.  I then let HER pick what would make sense to teach next based on literature she knows and what a logical sequence might be.  For 4th grade, she picked something different than I normally would have done next (she did ti-ta-ti [eight-quarter-eighth] while I would have done ti-tika [eighth-2 sixteenths]) but she found great song literature and the kids are doing great!  I will just do ti-tika next after she leaves and we will  be ahead of where we would have been this year.  I know it is hard to let go, especially when you have carefully crafted your year, but if you are always telling your student teacher what to teach and how,

6. Finally, let the classroom become theirs.  As Emily and my students got more comfortable with each other, I stopped paying such close attention to each lesson (especially the 3rd and 4th time it was taught).  I either sat at my desk to work OR even moved into the other side of my modular so I was still there, but not "hovering." This way, your student teacher can see what sit is really like when they have their own classroom without another teacher to rely on for help with classroom management, explaining directions, etc. I remember this being one of the most helpful things with my own student teaching experience because students act so different when their regular teacher is not in charge!  I know laws are a little different now, and a certified teacher must be present, but try to find a way to make it clear to students that the student teacher is in charge.

What are your favorite tips for working with a student teacher? Share in the comments!

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