First time mentoring a student-teacher? After having many student-teachers in my classroom over the years, I wanted to share some of my best kept secrets 🙂
1) Focus on only one or two development areas at a time. Let them know what your focus will be. I had a mentor who would only give feedback on what I was doing wrong. Even after sharpening up in the areas she had perviously mentioned, she would instantly move on to the next thing I was doing wrong. I had no idea what my strengths were or what I should focus on.
2) Try to space your feedback. Giving specific feedback every lesson is can be excessive and overwhelming. Just like you, your student-teacher needs time to reflect on the lesson before they are able to make changes to their practice. I prefer to give feedback once a week at a set time.
3) Remember to praise! Being a student-teacher can be emotionally taxing. If they are on the right track, let them know. They might even come up with new teaching strategies that you want to try out — let them know you appreciate their ideas.
4) Show them how it’s done! After all, you are a mentor for a reason. I try to showcase the things that really make a difference for my classes. Some of the things we do as teachers are subtle, don’t be afraid to flag them up for the benefit of the student watching.
5) Consider what makes your teaching style unique and effective, and share this with your student-teacher! One of my amazing mentors had thousands of tips and tricks to tell me about. He could break down his technique into handy chunks and tell me about each step. He also had great advice about the non-classroom side of teaching. I think there’s a little bit of his style in my teaching today.
6) If you can, have your student-teacher sit in on parent/teacher conferences. They can either sit back and listen or contribute to the discussion. After all, they will need to know what to say when it is their turn.
7) Ask the student-teacher how they think a lesson went. People often have a very good idea of where they are going wrong already and just need your expertise for how to avoid it in future.
8) Enjoy it! Having someone in your classroom who has fresh insight into new teaching practices can give you amazing ideas and can help rejuvenate your practice.