Just found out you are going to have a student teacher? Looking for great ideas on how to make this a successful experience for both of you? Look no further. Below you will find 14 Key ideas to successfully hosting a student teacher in your bilingual classroom this school year.
I am sure we all remember back to when we student taught. There are good mentors. There are bad mentors and there are awesome mentors. You do not have to have 5, 10 or 20 years of bilingual teaching experience under your belt to be an awesome mentor to a new teacher; you just need to think about the process before you go through it and figure how you can be the best guide and mentor to a new teacher during their bilingual practicum in your classroom.
Being an awesome mentor doesn’t mean only showing your student teacher the highlight real— you should have them doing all that stuff that they didn’t teach about at university— PLC’s, wiping boogers, behavior meltdowns, grading, tantrums, not so fun interactions with parents— to name a few things.
Here are a few things to consider before you start mentoring a new bilingual teacher in your classroom.
- Discuss “common sense” expectations that your student teacher should know before starting– school dress code, hours, phone/electronics usage, when can they speak Spanish (or English) in your school’s program model.
- Release something to your student teacher each week—don’t wait until the end. Let them take something over from day 1— whether it is greeting students at the door when they come in, morning meeting, warm up, lunch count, morning message, read aloud, etc.
- Be honest and specific from the start- Don’t sugar coat things but offer sound advice and next steps forward. If something didn’t go well. State what went bad and how you would do it differently. Take time to build a relationship where communication is valued and each one of your opinions and teaching styles is respected. No one is perfect at teaching. If your student teacher needs helps with transitions, and the transitions in your classroom aren’t perfect- recommend they watch your colleague/friend down the hallway to get more ideas.
- Keep your relationship professional- Remember that you are in a professional relationship and need to provide this future bilingual teacher with a sound experience so that they can be successful in their classroom.
- Make sure student respect the student teacher and know they are in charge too- Create expectations from Day 1 that your students understand this new person is a teacher and they are in charge and must follow classroom expectations as they do with you
- Tell them about awesome online teacher communities—Facebook groups for teachers or awesome Instagram accounts to follow
- Let them make mistakes and give them time to reflect and process their mistakes- Allow time to discuss and reflect on how your student teacher could improve things the day or time they teach a similar lesson.
- Allow them to not be 100% a clone of you. Remember that each teacher has a different style just make sure they maintain the same student expectations that you have in your classroom
- Don’t correct your student teacher as she is teaching or in front of other students- save it for later, when you can debrief during prep time or before or after school. This might be hard for some of us—- especially the perfectionists out there. Bite your tongue. Do something else or make note of the mistake, so you can discuss it later.
- Give them a workspace: Give them a desk, corner or spot to be. They need to feel like they are welcome and comfortable in your classroom for the weeks or months that they are there.
- Keep a journal/observation summary in a Google Doc that you add to on a daily basis— It will be able to fill out necessary paperwork later. (Or you both could write back and forth as a communication log).
- Give your student teacher copies of everything— your lesson plan, class lists, grading sheets, worksheets, links to websites, documents or PowerPoints that you use in class. Don’t make them reinvent the wheel. This one is important. One of the teachers I student taught with would “show” me what she or I was going to teach but made me redo and make EVERYTHING on my own. It was very stressful. It would have been easier to have a copy to use or refer to and modify if needed instead of spending hours of time creating materials each night in Spanish.
- Teach your student teacher on how to organize and plan effectively— sometimes what universities want and real life looks super different. Show them what your weekly plan looks like, what your school district or state has available for you and the planning documents for your grade level teachers at your school.
- Give them a final gift from your students— Lastly, celebrate their success. One great idea is having the class make a book on why the student teacher is a great teacher (which they could use in an interview or have as a keepsake).
Good luck with being a bilingual mentor! Hopefully, you have some ideas on how you can make it a great experience for you, your bilingual student teacher and students.
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