Student teachers in the classroom I've only had two student teachers in my career.  One was amazing and one was a disaster.  It's a difficult thing to have to address basic issues such as the temperament for teaching, a basic knowledge of the subject matter, or the unwillingness to work hard in order to be successful.  How have you handled student teachers who just aren't ready, willing, or able to do what it takes to really take advantage of a practice classroom?

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Working with student teachers is one of the most rewarding aspects of my job. However, being an effective cooperating teacher is much more difficult than it appears to many. Contrary to the popular notion, the cooperating teacher's job is not merely to hand over the control of the classroom on...

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Working with student teachers is one of the most rewarding aspects of my job. However, being an effective cooperating teacher is much more difficult than it appears to many. Contrary to the popular notion, the cooperating teacher's job is not merely to hand over the control of the classroom on day 1 and spend their days in the teacher's lounge. Often, I feel I learn as much from the student teacher as he or she does from me.

One of the more effective strategies I've found for working with student teachers to have the student teacher create and implement a lesson with one class while I observe. Then, in a later period of the day I teach the very same lesson with another class. Often times, this allows the student teacher to see and compare all of the "little things" that a teacher does to make a lesson effective. Sometimes we reverse the scenario as well. I teach first, then the student teacher teaches the lesson later in the day. It's the kind of professional coaching that we so rarely receive in our day-to-day work, but almost always can benefit from.

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I've never had a student teacher.  While the idea sounds enticing (someone else will assign and grade essays??), I think I'd have a big problem letting go--especially with my Honors-level courses.  Strangely, I also think I'd be bored.  I've seen teachers in our building who sit in the faculty room all day while their student teachers run the show, and I'm not sure I could handle that!

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Poor student teachers need you to never leave them alone!  The more accountable you hold them in each step the process of lesson planning, delivery, and assessment, the better off he or she and you will be.  My great student teachers were ready with excellent and well conceived lessons before they even started and were able to articulate the why and how questions I posed before they entered the classroom.  My weakest student teacher had nothing new to bring to the table, and only after a lot of modeling and suggestions from me was she able to do some successful things.  It took a long time for me to leave the classroom for even part of a period.  I do know that my constant presence was both reassuring and a bit motivating.  Most student teachers want to do it for themselves -- and it was a mark of some success when I left her on her own.   A little success and breed more success too.  Hopefully weak teachers can take your constructive criticism and figure it how to improve.

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I start this with the admission that I never had a student teacher.  I don't plan on having one and I might not ever have one.  However, I have been really fortunate to teach with a colleague who I observed with a student teacher last semester.  She is a veteran teacher with over 20 years of experience and her first words to the student teacher were classic:  "Ready to take over?"  From that point on, the veteran teacher remained in the classroom with the student teacher and eased her into the process, asking her week by week to assume more teaching and planning responsibilities.  She asked her to attend staff meetings, run a couple of conferences, and initiate phone calls (good and bad) to parents.  She was able to strike that all important balance of being there, but allowing the student teacher freedom to fully understand what it means to be a teacher.  I also loved how the veteran teacher advocated for the student teacher to get a job in our district when two positions opened.  I think that this is a wonderful approach to having a student teacher, one that sets the standard.  After seeing the veteran teacher in action, I was convinced that that was the right approach... and more convinced that it is for the best that I don't take on a student teacher right now!

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I had similar experiences to you, with two student teachers, one great and one not so much.  With the one who had trouble, I tried to help by limiting his class load to first just one section, and one that I selected specifically because of the lack of discipline and student issues to deal with, and because it was an area of curricular strength.  This gave him the ideal situation to practice teaching, and the ability to focus on that one section until he became more comfortable and confident in a classroom.  It helped, but only somewhat.  There is no graceful or easy way to tell someone that they may not be cut out for teaching, but that's what I had to do by the end of the 18 weeks.  By that time, though, he pretty much already knew.

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With my student teacher, I tried to make suggestions about what had worked for me in the past. When that didn't work, I suggested things that the students needed her to do. The school was a very small k-12 in a very tight community, and she was from the community. Her strategy was to be buddies with the 5-8 grade classes. This amounted to providing candy daily, allowing them to wander at will when class lessons were going on, and allowing a classroom noise level in which much of the instructional time was lost. My last option was to be as objective and honest on her evaluations.

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I had the luxury of a student teacher for the first time last year.  She was really prepared, did her research, and had great ideas--many of which I intend to use this year.  The only point of contention was her emotional readiness.  She was unable to take criticism from the students, and she absolutely came apart when the girls rolled their eyes at her or stared her down because of something she asked of them that they didn't want to do.  This is a maturity issue for the student teacher, but I also told Halley that it will be much different for her when the students are her own from the beginning...it's so much more difficult walking in halfway through the year and taking over someone else's class.

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I think that it is very important for teachers to make sure they communicate very well with their student teachers. If a student teacher is not performing as they should they need to know what they can do to improve themselves. Thye may also be worried that they are overstepping their boundaries so it is important that this is discussed as well.
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I have had around13 student teachers in my career.  I have had fabulous ones, okay ones and terrible ones.  I am a liaison to a local university and work constantly with college students, field experience students and student teachers.  I think that we seasoned teachers should mentor new teachers and college students.

A bad student teacher can be a lot of work.  If they come in late quite a bit, miss days without contacting the cooperating teacher, or come in smelling of alcohol (yes it has happened) then they need to have a talk with their supervisor and maybe change majors.  Plus, there is a ton of paperwork to create a paper trail to "get rid" of the poor performing student teacher, and the students do complain too.

I had to "fire" one, and the person  graduated with a degree in education, without student teaching complete.  Some have no idea how much work it really is to be a teacher.

All that said, the bad ones are far and few between.  I usually learn a great deal from my student teachers and enjoy having them in my room.  They keep me up on the latest eduational research and their enthusiasm helps keep me motivated as well.

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I think that if you have a student teacher who will not make a good teacher, then you have to be totally honest with the student teacher.  If there really is a problem with the student teacher, you will not be the only one to see it.  Students will complain, parents will complain, and I think the student teacher's university advisor will see it, and more than likely, the student teacher will see it.  I would work with the university advisor to gently steer the student teacher away from teaching.  It is better to do it now than wait until this person is credentialed and realizes teaching was more than he can handle.

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I have never had a student teacher either but coming from my experience in student teaching, I think striking a balance between criticism and constructive criticism is key.  I can't say that I'm a role model for this philosophy, but I truly do believe that honesty and confrontation are better than hoping a problem will just go away.  I guess I just think about how many mediocre people get really far in professions believing they are good because no one was brave enough to just call a spade a spade.

I also think about the people in my life who have done this for me in a way that was actually productive and not destructive.  Some of them, sad to say, I wish I would have met much sooner.

There is definitely a delicate balance to maintain.  I recently learned that I "pretty much ruined camp" for a Junior Counselor I had trained at a summer camp several years ago.  I'm sure I was blunt with her, but not especially constructive.  I'm not regretting what I did or said (how can I at this point?) but I do look back with a little more maturity and wonder how I could have trained her in a way that she wouldn't still be bitter over something I said more than 7 years ago.

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Unfortunately, I have never had an interning teacher during my 25+ year teaching career. I had one principal who REFUSED to allow them in the school--she had a mindset that it would be a free ride for the CLASSROOM TEACHER (she rode her teachers hard). When I interned myself, my supervising teacher threw me into action almost immediately. I taught an Advanced Placement English Honors class (among others) and really had to keep on my toes. I loved her for it, and I learned a great deal of on-the-job experience while still in college. Most of my other interning partners had far fewer classroom responsibilities; one teacher never did allow one of the girls to teach full-time--she sat and observed for the entire three months. 

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