Module 1: Getting Started With Your Teacher Candidate
Before You Meet
So you’re getting a student teacher. Exciting! Most teachers find working with a student teacher to be a very rewarding experience. To help create the best experience, there are a few things you should think about before your teacher candidate arrives.
Go over the Quick Start Guides for the term to understand what’s expected of you, your teacher candidate, and the university supervisor.
Prepare your classroom
Set-up an adult workspace. In classrooms at all levels, there is a significant difference between what a teacher work space looks like and what a student work space looks like. Try to give your teacher candidate a work space as much like your own as possible. If there is no available adult desk, use a table. Provide an adult-sized chair rather than a child-sized chair.
Post the candidate’s name wherever yours is posted. For example, outside the classroom door, on the front board, near your desk, on your desk, and on the class website.
Compile useful documents
Consider preparing a set of helpful documents that might include things like:
- A map of the school
- Class list(s)
- Staff handbook and school policies
- Bell schedule
- Class rules and routines
You can send these documents to the teacher candidate ahead of time or share them during your first meeting.
The First Meeting
The first meeting of the year will lay the groundwork for a successful experience for everyone. We recommend choosing a meeting time that’s outside of class hours so you have enough time and space to get oriented.
Provide a tour
During your first meeting, set aside time to provide a tour of the classroom and school. Show your teacher candidate where to do work, eat lunch, use the restroom, and locate resources.
Share policies and “unwritten rules”
In addition to giving your teacher candidate the set of documents you prepared, share the “unwritten” rules of the school. For example, do teachers usually buy or pack their lunches? Is it taboo to grade papers during a staff meeting?
- What time to report and how long to stay
- Where to park
- Materials to bring
- Typical attire for teachers
- How to speak and interact with students, parents, other teachers and staff
- Best form of communication
- What’s okay to share or not share on social media
Be transparent about your non-negotiables
Think about things that might drive you a little nuts if they happen – those are your non-negotiables. All of us have non-negotiables, both in our lives and in our classrooms.
Some examples of possible non-negotiables are:
- Following all school and district policies
- Teaching the assigned curriculum
- Emailing, texting, or calling prior to an absence
- Leaving fully prepared lesson plans if they’ll be absent
The First Day & Week of Class
Introduce the teacher candidate as a co-teacher
Start by introducing the teacher candidate to the class as a teacher or co-teacher. Of course, your teacher candidate has less experience than you do, but the year will likely be more successful if the students understand that they now have two teachers, instead of just one.
Provide low-risk opportunities for interaction
During the first week of school, provide low risk opportunities for the teacher candidate to be in front of the class and interact with students.
- Taking attendance
- Distributing materials
- Circulating and assisting students who need help
- Observing you as a you teach a lesson
- Introducing an activity
Use your professional judgment to gauge when the teacher candidate is ready to take on more responsibility. Some will want to do more before they are ready, and some will be reluctant even though they are more than ready.
Spend time together away from school. Talk on the phone, go for coffee or have a meal out. Getting to know each other makes teamwork much easier.