In early August, I will begin the new school year with approximately 100 teenagers, a new grade-level team, a co-teacher . . . and a student teacher. I'm okay with the 100 kids, the new team, the new co-teacher, but the student teacher part scares me. Why?
Because I'm afraid I might fail her.
See, with those 100 kids, I have standards that I know backwards and forwards as well as a plethora of strategies and a wealth of experience upon which to draw. I already know how I will group and differentiate, how I will move them through all the processes embedded in those standards. I know how to plan for them, how to assess them, how to grow them.
With that new grade-level team and the co-teacher . . . well, I know how to play well with others and be an effective part of a team.
With the student teacher, I'm flooded with the memories of being a really, really bad beginning teacher and how challenging and different my first three years in the classroom were versus my very successful student teaching experience. I'm flooded with all the statistics on how many beginning teachers leave the classroom in the first five years. I'm flooded with the various conversations I've had lately with experienced educators about how our new teachers often enter the classroom unprepared for the reality of teaching.
I want to mentor this new teacher, help her fall in love with difficult students and differentiation and data and all the other daily challenges that don't defeat us as teachers, but rather make us stronger and better all the time.
So, first, I want to ask you to mentor me. What are the dos and don'ts of mentoring a student teacher? What do you wish your mentor had done? Or not done? Share your advice in the comment section.
Reading is one of my favorite summer activities. I'm an omnivore as a reader, so I'm usually reading more than one book at a time. Rarely do I finish a book in one sitting, especially a professional development book; however, Total Participation Techniques: Making Every Student an Active Learner (Himmele and Himmele, 2011) is one I devoured in an afternoon. Here's what made this text a great book for me:
While I read, I jotted a list of techniques to incorporate into the unit I'm writing. Engaging the middle school learner, especially in ELA, can be notoriously challenging. Thinking about my students, I can easily see how they would be drawn to these activities. Here are a few that I'm already working into lesson plan drafts:
Overall, I'd definitely recommend Himmele and Himmele's book for any teacher's professional library.