George Lucas Educational Foundation
Professional Learning

9 Tips for Supervising Student Teachers

September 12, 2016 Updated September 10, 2016

There may come a time in your career when you are asked to supervise a student teacher for a quarter, semester, or even a year. Some preparation beforehand can make for a great experience for everyone involved.

1. Tour the building, make introductions

Take the time to introduce your student teacher to important people in the building such as the principal, custodian, office staff, health room assistant, and any other staff members you work with on a regular basis.They will also need a map and a tour of the building.

Show them where the workrooms are, copy machines, and where to keep their lunch. Talk about dress codes, start and end times, and how to call in sick. It may work best to have your student teacher come in after school prior to their starting date, so that you have the time to take a leisurely tour and to make introductions.

2. Introduce them to your class

Build in time for your student teacher to introduce themselves to your class. I always block off an hour of the student teacher’s first day for them to spend time talking to the class. I ask them to bring in their favorite children’s book to read to the class, as well as pictures and other things that will help the students get to know them. The kids especially love to see pictures of teachers when they were in elementary school!

3. Give them time to observe

Let your student teacher spend the first week just observing. Encourage them to take notes and jot down questions. I like to spend a few minutes at the end of each day of the first week debriefing and explaining why I do certain things and why I handled certain situations in a certain way. This gives them time to really become comfortable with the routines and your expectations.

4. Start with small teaching sessions

When your student teacher starts taking on actual teaching, start with something manageable and easy to understand. This could be a read aloud, math fact practice, or even working with a small group. When they feel successful at something small, they will be ready to tackle something a little bigger.

5. Be a good role model

Be a good model throughout the day. There will be times when you will want to complain about a student, a parent, or even another staff member. Don’t forget that you are the supervisor and you are modeling what it looks like to be a quality educator. This includes things like not favoring certain students, being polite to office staff and custodial staff, and being engaged and professional in staff and parent meetings.

6. Get involved in activities outside of the classroom

Encourage them to get involved outside of the classroom, although you may want to do this together at first so that they feel comfortable. This is a great way to network and get to know kids and families. This could be assisting with a club, a fund raiser, or a school dance. Principals definitely notice when a student teacher goes the extra mile outside of the school day.

7. Highlight their strengths

If you are lucky enough to work with a student teacher who is a great artist, a whiz at technology, or even knows how to play guitar, find a way to build that into your days. The kids love it, and it is always great to showcase something you are good at. Not only will it make lessons more engaging, but it helps to build rapport and confidence.

8. Be patient and consistent in classroom management

Don’t expect expert classroom management. Remember how hard it was as a new teacher? This is one of the most difficult things to learn. Although a supervising teacher can teach strategies and techniques, it really is something you develop as you gain more experience.

9. Have a sense of humor

Teaching is hard work, and as a new teacher, it can be very overwhelming. Sometimes the only way we get through the day is by sitting back and laughing. We all remember the best teachers were usually the ones who could laugh and relax. There are a lot of funny things that happen in a classroom on a daily basis, take the time to enjoy it.

This piece was originally submitted to our community forums by a reader. Due to audience interest, we’ve preserved it. The opinions expressed here are the writer’s own.

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