MENTORING TIPS

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  1. Thank you for accepting the professional responsibility of mentoring a future teacher.
  2. Although all of our candidates have similar backgrounds in college preparation for student teaching, I am sure you realize that they bring different strengths and weaknesses. Perhaps you can picture your student teacher as a diamond in the rough that needs some polishing, and that you are the jeweler.
  3. Although we request that you never complain to peers about a student teacher, we welcome any occasion that you may boast. Please discuss any problems or potential problems with the university supervisor. Name and phone number is on the assignment sheet you receive.
  4. Most beginning student teachers are somewhat overwhelmed and generally look to their cooperating teacher for guidance and directions while gaining confidence. Things that may be obvious to you may not yet be second nature to the novice teacher.
  5. Be patient with your student teacher, but be firm in demanding professional standards in performance. Keep in mind some of their stresses – still a student but expected to behave like a professional, anxious to do well at something with a four (or more) year preparation investment, concerned about future job prospects.
  6. The objective of student teaching is to help the future professional learn to stand alone, to develop qualities that will lead to independence, not dependence.
  7. Keep in mind that the university supervisor is not there to evaluate you in any way, but to support the growth and development of an effective teacher for future classrooms.  Open communication will enhance the process. The university supervisor will normally visit twice during each placement, but can be available more frequently if necessary.
  8. Prepare your students, convince them that the student teacher is there to assume the role of the teacher.  Introduce the student teacher as a coworker and a professional. Perhaps review rules with students in the presence of the student teacher to avoid misunderstanding.  Students often respond differently to student teachers—positively or negatively.
  9. A tour of school with/for the student teacher would be helpful. Be sure the candidate is aware of available technology. Be sure they are aware of emergency procedures.
  10. Although we would hope that all of our graduates will be exemplary, occasionally various factors result in a student who is insufficiently prepared, motivated or able to be successful.  Close contact with the university supervisor saves grief in such a situation.  Although potential teachers deserve the chance to develop, they can be placed on a “plan of improvement” that may require completion of student teaching at a later date.
  1. During the time you are helping your student teacher develop teacher competencies, some of the following strategies may be helpful.
    1. Insist upon a clear-cut lesson plan; plans should be pre-approved by you. You may be able to provide the most assistance by asking questions to help student teacher focus on important aspects of a lesson and by making materials available.
    2. If your intern uses nonstandard English while communicating information orally, make note of the mistakes for discussion at the next conference.
    3. Audiotape or videotape a lesson and during playback cooperatively evaluate for suitable, vocabulary, volume, pace,…..
    4. Offer a resource book, person, film…of an inservice nature.
  2. Make appointments with some of your exemplary colleagues for the student teacher to observe during their last week.  Review with the student teacher the kinds of things to be looking for. 
  3. Organizational tips may be particularly helpful to the student teacher. Paperwork can be a nightmare.
  4. Ideas for working with special needs students will be valued and appreciated.
  5. Your student teacher will learn from your modeling – of management, teaching, professionalism.
  6. Timing is often a problem area for the novice teacher.  Most need guidance in that area.
  7. Help the student teacher see the total picture.  If your student teacher arrived at the beginning of the semester, they may not understand your ultimate goals. If your student teacher comes in the middle of a semester, s/he will not know what has preceded her/his arrival.
  8. Insist on thorough planning – it pays huge dividends.
  9. Allow and encourage the student teacher to gradually assume responsibility for the class – but only as you feel s/he is ready.
  10. They may need guidance to align with your evaluation procedures.
  11. Remember the value of positive reinforcement. Emphasize high standards.
  12. Expose your student teacher to those members on your faculty that exemplify the code of ethics of teachers. Example is a good teacher.

 

Adapted from Wentz, P., Yarling, J.(1994). Student Teaching Casebook for Supervising Teachers and Teaching Interns.  New York: Macmillan.

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