Many teachers will have student teachers in their classrooms over the next few weeks so here are a few tips and ideas for preparing and supporting a student in your classroom. For some students, this could be their first time in a classroom setting since their own days in primary school, while others may have lots of experience in classrooms through volunteer work or work as an SNA before deciding to become a teacher.
Usually there is a period of observation – this usually lasts a week and gives the student teacher a chance to see the class in action. He/she will also see how things work in the classroom – what procedures are in place, the expectations for the pupils, how copies are laid out, transitions used throughout the day and classroom management procedures.
During the observation time, the student teacher might also work with small groups of children as this will give him/her a chance to build up a relationship with the children in the class.
Most teachers will have their termly plans complete and it might be a good idea to give the student teacher a copy of your plans for the time they are in your class. I think its also important to be flexible as the student teacher may have certain topics or ideas that they’d like to do, they also may have specific requirements from their teaching college – certain themes/ topics. I also try to give hands on topics especially in Maths.
Is there in class learning support/resource? Is there certain times for P.E.? Is there any other things that happen throughout the school day/week? e.g. we have DEAR time at the moment and the children have a weekly assembly on Thursdays so its important for the student teacher (and their inspector) to know about these things!
Which resources are available in the school? If the topic is length – where can the student teacher find rulers/metre sticks/trundle wheels? Is there resources available for SESE topics? How does photocopying work? What art supplies are available?
Class teachers role
What do you do when the student teacher is teaching? Where do you sit? Some ideas;
- Work with individual/small groups of children (Be careful that this doesn’t interfere with the class)
- Observe the class (This is a great chance to see how children work in different subject areas/ see the groupings in the class and see who can work independently or who may be struggling)
- Organise resources
Offer feedback/support when needed.
- Be open and flexible – just because someone is doing something that you wouldn’t do – doesn’t mean it is any less beneficial to the learning in the classroom.
- Be positive – find the positive things (and try to encourage the student teacher as much as possible – it is incredibly nerve wrecking to walk into another persons classroom and teach their class while under constant observation.)
- Don’t interfere (obviously if there is an immediate danger – jump in). Different teachers tolerate different noise levels/ have different expectations. Have a quiet word with students who are not meeting your usual expectations.
What do you tell the children?
Personally, I tell the children that we are so lucky that the principal has chosen our class to have a new teacher working in our room for a few weeks and that I will still be here in the room watching everything that is happening and working with some groups at the back of the room too.
What to do when the inspector comes?
Leave – usually. This depends on the college/ student teacher- but its best for the inspector to see the teacher and his/her skills with classroom management, organisation etc. in practice.
Hopefully these ideas will help you if you are preparing for a student teacher in the coming weeks!