I recently replied to a student (art) teacher's comment on another blog and it got me thinking about my own student teaching experience and all i learned along the way...Sooo, I thought I'd revisit those gleanings as a post for student teachers.
My advice is as follows:
1) You are a guest.
My dear friend, do not create undue stress for yourself by trying to tackle all of the classroom issues on your own. This is practice for you, do not tire yourself out for the 'big game' that is your impending career. I say this as a self-proclaimed intense person. Please remember that no matter how effective/polished/inefficient/slap-dash/strict/orderly/messy, (whatever!) your mentor teacher seems to you, he/she has found a way that works FOR THEM, and it has developed over a period of time. It does not have to work for you, take it with a grain of salt. Try to figure out what led him/her to his/her present methods. Why might it work/not work for you? A good house guest makes the bed after themselves and doesn't take the liberties a family member does...Be helpful, but remember you are NOT a student OR the teacher. It's a learning experience, be there in the moment for that purpose.
2) Observe and Report
If it's not part of your teacher-training, keep a journal! Write about your Mentor teacher's interactions, style, instructional strategies; compare to what you learn in your ed classes and to your own intuition. This is a time to reflect on YOU and plan for your future teaching. When you begin your first year of teaching, it will be hard to find the time to gather such information. It will also be helpful to have a written record to go back to. Start lists of websites, inspirational artists, lesson plan ideas, useful bits of info from ed. textbooks:)
The more inspired you are to teach, the more inspiring you will be to your students.
Knowledge is power, both for you and your mentor teacher. Be open (but professional!) about your take on strategies, management, etc. ASK questions, be open to new ideas from all angles. Be a team, it's an awesome advantage to have TWO teachers in the room! Use it- devise plans of attack, divide tasks, ask for help. Try to remember what it felt like being in the students' place. Talk to your students, especially if they are older, about their learning and expectations. Keep your college professor/supervisor in the loop! He/she is a WEALTH of information, but super busy, so ASK for resources, and if you need it, guidance!
4) Steal, steal, steal!
*Thanks to Beth Spann, Kristin Plambeck, Christine Hoffman, MaryAnn Popovich, Darlene O'Donnell and Mary Hastings for making my student-teaching experience meaningful.