I love hosting/mentoring a student-teacher. This is the first time I’ve invited a student-teacher to my classroom at the start of a school year (versus having one in the spring semester) and I have to admit, I was unsure of how this might work. I’m still getting to know these lovely 8th graders, build relationships with them, establish expectations, and set a firm foundation of mathematics for the rest of the year. Would having a student-teacher this early in the school year cramp my style?
Firstly, it has been priceless to have another set of eyes and hands early-on to monitor and discuss my students. Getting to know these folks together and simultaneously has been nothing but a plus. There are SO MANY TIMES while teaching that I’ve wished there was somebody else in the room to see/hear/experience what I’m seeing/hearing/experiencing. Having two teacher-brains is better than one.
Secondly, detailed planning with someone else improves instruction. I have tried certain resources and strategies in the past, and having another teacher take those ideas in different directions enriches me too. It’s a joy to mentor and “coach” a fresh, willing learner, but all the while I’m refreshed too. Together, we are making lessons better.
Thirdly, as I am taking a step back and handing my students carefully over to someone else, I am freed up to reflect and be more creative. Thankfully, as I brainstorm ideas with my student-teacher, she’s willing to run with the ideas and make them happen. I am making my own practice better by being her “coach”, and in essence, I am coaching myself to be better. Sharing the teaching load with another person frees me to think more clearly, versus getting bogged down in ALL the grading, ALL the planning, ALL the e-mailing… those very necessary things that quickly fill our days also tend to zap reflection and creativity. Well, I’m taking back reflection and creativity!
Selfishly, I get to have my cake and eat it too – I loved the role of full-time “math coach” in the past, but longed for my own classroom… MY students… when serving in that role. Being a classroom teacher WITH a student-teacher allows me to keep one foot in the classroom and one foot as a “coach”.
As we move forward in the coming weeks, I look at the label “student-teacher” as one fitting for myself, and my students too. We are all learners through this experience, and we’re all teaching one another too. If you’ve never hosted a student-teacher… do it. You’ll be better for it.