I can remember the first time I was a student teacher, or a classroom teacher for that matter too. I was a nervous wreck. Would the students like me? Would my lessons be effective? Would I forget how to teach? I had an amazing cooperating teacher, and other teachers that helped me to develop into the teacher I am today. Because of this, and of the last 19 years of teaching, I want to share my knowledge on why hosting a student teacher will change your teaching forever. I have listed my top five reasons below.
Who could not benefit from an early 20-something teacher coming into your classroom with new ideas and a fresh perspective? I know that this is probably one of my top reasons to host student teachers. It is amazing to think back to what it was like the first time I set foot in a classroom. I was going to change the world (and still am) one child at a time. I had motivation, determination, and energy that couldn’t be matched. Student teachers have this in them, and if you can steal any bit of that, take the opportunity and dive in. Listen to their ideas, find out what drives them, and talk about how together you will be the best team ever for this group of students.
Learning from Mistakes
Everyone makes mistakes. We all know this, but being able to embrace this with a student teacher is so important to his/her growth. Mistakes are bound to happen, but it is the way that a cooperating teacher handles those situations that makes all the difference. Student teaching is like a laboratory where experimentation can occur. The student teacher is testing out teaching methods, classroom management, and the daily operations of a classroom. When errors occur, it is the cooperating teacher’s job to reflect with the student teacher after the lesson. These mistakes become learning opportunities for both. As a student teacher, the advice from a cooperating teacher is invaluable. As a cooperating teacher, learning from the mistakes of a student teacher will make his/her teaching better as well.
Often when teachers are in teacher mode, they don’t take enough time to reflect on their teaching. Being able to watch another teacher closely for an extended period of time is so beneficial. It allows me to really focus on not only instruction, but how my students react to a different teacher. I am able to be reflective about the delivery of the lesson, the effectiveness of the activities, and on the involvement of my students. Being a reflective practitioner and learning how to correct ineffective pieces of a lesson, or tweaking classroom management is a huge way to be a successful teacher.
Giving Up Control
The first time I knew I would have a student teacher, I thought it would be impossible to give up classroom control. I taught a certain way, had my room set up the way I liked it, and didn’t way anyone to get in my way. But I soon realized after having my first student teacher, it was my way, and I needed to let them make it their own. This was extremely difficult for me, but once I gave up the control I began to learn more than I ever thought possible. I learned new teaching methods and strategies, watched engaging classroom management techniques be effective, and learned new ways to connect with students that I never would have thought of before. Giving up the control in my classroom provided to be the best professional development I could’ve asked for!
The idea of having another teacher in your room to share ideas, strategies, tips and so much more is invaluable. Working together as a team, it is easier to discuss teaching methods, engaging activities, behavior issues, review data, and make plans to help all students succeed. Education would be transformed if there could be two teachers in every classroom.
So that is why having a student teacher in the classroom is beneficial to not only the students but to the cooperating teacher as well. I know there are many more benefits of hosting a student teacher, but I hope that if you are a classroom teacher and have not had a student teacher, you will strongly consider it. If you have hosted student teachers in the past, I would love to hear your feedback as well.