Monday, January 28, 2013

Prepping for a student teacher

Today I'm blogging from home, as we are enjoying a snow day! Despite throwing off my plans and stealing away a day of Easter break, I am not opposed to snow days that make for long weekends!

As I cuddle with the pup and maintain an all-pajama wardrobe, I'm trying to prep for a student teacher. This will be my second ST. My first was just last Spring and it was, overall, a good experience. I really had to think and pray about having a student teacher, and while I know it isn't for everyone, I came to the personal conclusion that it was something I needed to do. I think I'll expand on that in another post.

For today, as I reflect on my first experience and prepare for my second, I'd like to ask for any tips or advice (or anecdotes!) from those of you who have had STs in the past. How did you get ready? Why did you agree to take a ST? How did it go? Would you do it again? If so, would you do anything differently?

And for anyone fresh off of a student teaching experience, what made your experience great (or not so great)? What were the most valuable lessons you learned? What do you wish you had learned or experienced but didn't get to?

Rudy's first snow day--which has nothing to do with student teachers, but gosh, he's cute.


  1. I haven't had my own student teacher, but I have worked with two student teachers in the last two years. In NY, a student teacher for art must have two placements, one in a K-6 environment and one in a high school environment. If they don't have two placements, they must teach at least one class in the other grade area from where they were placed.

    I did my own student teaching with the high school teacher in my school and I went through the same program these other two teachers went through. Unfortunately, the last two were NOT good examples of an art I'll just give my input as to what I think should have happened to make sure they were better:

    1. Be sure you have a clear understanding of what your student teacher has to do for class. We were required to do a journal for reflection, two complete units, daily plans, two visual rubrics, an artwork that reflected our student teaching experience, an on-line portfolio, and a visual portfolio to use in interviews. Make sure you know this so that you can be sure your student teacher is staying on top of things and not stressing out at the end to get this all done.

    2. Don't give them too much information. The last student teacher received a lot of help from us and I think that hindered his ability to think on his own. Then, towards the end when we stopped giving so much help, he was flopping.

    3. Be sure your student teacher stays up on his/her daily plans and lessons. Also, make sure they know the routine for a snow day. Many times, the student teacher last year didn't show up to teach his class with me because he wasn't keeping track of it in his plan book correctly.

    4. Tell them what they are doing really well at! And don't be afraid to tell them what they aren't doing so well at, especially from the beginning so they have time to improve.

    5. Lay down the ground rules at the beginning. Don't let your student teacher walk all over your toes and change things you don't want changed. If you don't care what he or she does, then let them know that. If you don't want them changing a worksheet you use or changing your rules, let them know. One of the other teachers in our district right now has a student teacher and she is very "gung-ho" which is great, but she is overly much that she is stepping on toes right out of the gate and not listening to advice or the reasoning behind why something is done the way it is.

    Sorry if this seems so negative...but it comes from seeing two not so great student teachers right after I had a very successful student teaching experience. When I was student teaching, I ran everything by my teacher well in advance before doing the lesson/unit in class and she really appreciated it. I did some procedures, like those with clay, differently than she did and I knew it bothered her a bit, but I checked and re-checked with her if it was okay, and she gave me the go-ahead. Since I knew the way I was doing it bothered her organizational procedures a bit, I held back on my part to make a compromise, but I know that not everyone realizes when they are stepping on toes!

    1. Thank you for your thorough response! I think you make some great points. With my last ST, I was unclear on her responsibilities and assignments in advance, which hindered both of us. And you're so right about ground rules--with my first ST, there were times that I'd make suggestions or observations and she'd tell me that I was wrong. Yeah, not good. Thankfully, when her supervisor came and said the same things, I felt justified, ha.

      Thanks again!

  2. My school district was poorly located for getting art student teachers, in through recent years I had two, both who got special permission to be at my school district, since it was outside the usual perimeter for their programs. Both were wonderful experiences, and both are now successfully employed (yeah!).

    Prior to the first student teacher, I attended a workshop at a conference, run by a group of college students who had just completed student teaching. They wanted to share their experiences with future cooperating teachers. The biggest thing they said was how important it was to have their own place in the art room, something that was theirs, rather than parking their bags at your desk. It meant a lot to them, so I followed through. I had the custodians drag in a little old desk that nobody was using, and both times the ST's were thrilled. Each of them made that little desk their very own space, and it made a huge difference for both them and for me. (it's hard to give up your own personal space!)

    I have other thoughts for you, but I'll share them later in another comment. Good luck!