Module #3: Mentoring Your Student Teacher

"It is the teacher that makes the difference, not the classroom." - Morpurgo


Communication and Observations

We encourage you to communicate frequently with your student teacher. Your feedback about student teacher success or failure is a crucial improvement motivator. Please feel comfortable observing, recording thoughts, and conferencing with your student teacher. Conferences between the two of you should be frequent, friendly, and honest.

Cooperating teachers need to analyze periodically student teacher performances, note them in writing, and dialogue about them. Open dialogue related to the midterm and final evaluation reports is an extremely valuable experience.

It is recommended to use a shared platform for note taking during observations. This could be a Google Doc or a simple spiral bound notebook. This will allow the student teacher to go back and reflect on previous conversations while preparing for future lessons. It will also help the student teacher understand why you use certain techniques and structures with each child.

  • Effective teaching techniques: Focus on sharing ways to engage student interest, analyze behaviors, identify tools. that can help make a classroom successful.
  • Understanding of the learner: Focus on words, and actions that influence student conduct, motivation, trust, inclusion, and understanding.
  • Identification of student needs: How does the student learn best, what environment, social setting, differentiations, scaffolding, and support.

During these observations and conversations student teachers will have to opportunity to analyze areas of strength and weakness while setting new instructional goals based on observations and new insights. Providing constructive feedback following observations and allowing opportunities to improve will be valuable.

Observation Techniques

Encouragement For Student Teachers

" Nine tenths of education is encouragement."

Excellent teaching is compatible with a variety of personalities. We urge cooperating teachers to search for ways to affirm and enhance unique strengths and values represented by student teachers.

Praise and encouragement are powerful incentives and we encourage you to look for those opportunities through conferences and informal conversations with student teachers.
We believe that student teachers produce their best results with mentors who express faith in them and do not hesitate to praise and advise at appropriate times.

Modeling Effective Teaching

We want our student teachers to assume gradual increase in responsibilities until full immersion occurs in the latter part of the calendar assignment. At this point, we want to emphasize the need for student teachers to observe good teaching in addition to practicing it.
In the early weeks, teaching should be shared by student and cooperating teacher. Two kinds of shared teaching are worth noting:

  • Turn Teaching:
    The cooperating and student teacher alternate teaching content. For example, the cooperating teacher presents a lesson to one class, then the student teacher presents the same lesson to the next class, or the student teacher might teach two days consecutively followed by two days of teaching by the cooperating teacher, or vice versa.
  • Team Teaching
    The cooperating and student teacher co-deliver instruction during the same period. Both are instructionally active during the same teaching episode. For example, one may do a lesson introduction while the other provides the closure. Or one may do the verbal instruction while the other coordinates and operates support activities like AV or assignment explanations. We also recommend opportunities to observe other teachers. Such observations should be arranged and guided by the cooperating teacher.
    It is suggested that your student teacher uses an observation form similar to the one provided :
    Focus Areas of Observation

With increased immersion into full student teaching, the above activities will diminish, but should remain important as opportunities gained for initial good-teaching schemes and guided rehearsals in effective teaching.


Planning and Other Responsibilities

Learning the process of planning effective lessons is an evolving process for student teachers. We want each student teacher to be comprehensively planned well in advance of content presentations. Your student should be planning daily and long- range plans under your guidance.

We are strongly persuaded that there is no one planning scheme, instructional technique, or package of materials that will insure teaching excellence. We tell our student teachers to heed the schemes desired by the cooperating teacher until they are able to design a method that what works best for them.

The planning schemes, materials, and instructional techniques may be designated by the cooperating teacher, school principal, school system or a combination of those.

Student teachers should then follow those guidelines. We also hope that student teachers will feel free to be creative in those areas, using outside resources, though always in communication with the cooperating teacher.
It is acceptable to share lesson plans with student teachers. This allows your student teacher to become familiar with your style of teaching and let's them view effective models of lesson plans. It will provide them with a guide in the initial stages of their student teaching. This approach makes them aware of the availability of classroom materials, media center materials, technology equipment, supplies in the school, available funds, learners' needs, publications, expertise of other faculty, and community sources.

As the student teacher takes on more responsibility it is important to allow them to develop their own plans using resources you have available, as well as resources they have found. The goal is always to encourage student engagement, learning, and success.

It is important to note that there will be specific lessons plans required to complete the edTPA. It may be valuable to implement sections of the edTPA plans in the beginning of their student teaching experience. Your student teacher will have access to the edTPA lesson format.


Cooperating Teacher Expectations for ESL/ Bilingual Teachers:

Please read over the following documents to understand the responsibility you have for accepting to be a cooperating teacher.

Formal Observations

There are a variety of formal observations formats. It is important to chose one that is helpful to you student teacher as well as your students. Below are samples we have made available to you.

Commonly Asked Questions

Module #3 - Assignment -Mentoring Your Student Teacher

Design or select a formal observation form that will best meet the needs of you and your student teacher in the environment you teach. Identify the form you find most useful.

Module #4 - Evaluation of a Student Teacher Candidate