Building a Better Cooperating Teacher

How do we transform an education major into a student teacher? How do I transform myself into the best cooperating teacher that’s possible?

How do we transform a education major into a student teacher?

How do I transform myself into the best cooperating teacher that’s possible?

I sat down with my student teacher-to-be for lunch, knowing my most important task was to listen so I could begin to plan the upcoming semester. Now I not only have to plan a positive learning experience for my 8th graders, but simultaneously a different positive learning experience for the student teacher.  I needed data.   As he talked, I took stock of who he was and probed for his educational passions.   We went through a checklist of expectations—dress, when to show up for work, important dates, and so forth.  I created a DropBox folder of all my classroom documents for the start of school—things like classroom expectations, the anatomy of a high quality answer, The Framework for the Science Standards, a planner with school rules, the district’s curriculum, my grade level’s unit plans, Back To School night presentations and invitations, parent communication form letters and so forth. There is way too much to print out and give someone, so sharing access to an electronic filing cabinet seemed best.

I gave two tasks for him to complete.  The first task was to create his plan for teaching the first unit.  I gave him a copy of our district’s master unit plan to use as a point of comparison and challenged him to find ways to make it better.  Second, I gave him 3 sets of student work to analyze.  I wanted to see what he could tell me about those students from reading through the spirals and analyzing student work.

I’m sure many readers are wondering why we didn’t start with classroom management or how to setup the classroom. We’ll get there to be sure.  But since I have the luxury of working with him over the summer, we’re starting with content and student work analysis first. 

Both of these tasks are something that we can do together to build our cooperating teacher-student teacher relationship without actually having students in the classroom. Both of these tasks will give us something concrete to begin professional conversations focused on student work.

It’s my belief that professional conversation supplemented with the opportunity for him to field test his ideas on my students will give him a positive student teaching experience.

I hope to build myself into a better cooperating teacher.  For the next month, I will be creating my master plan of the most important things I can offer the student teacher using what I learned about him in that first meeting and what I’ll find out from his unit plan and student work analysis.

What other kinds of data should I collect about my student teacher’s capabilities?

What else should I be doing to become the best cooperating teacher ever?

Photo credit is under Creative Commons Attribution License and the image can be found here.

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