I think having student teachers are one of the best thing that can happen to a teacher. Let me explain. I have my fourth student teacher this year, an undergraduate High School IT and PE teacher. There are also a biology teacher a history teacher and a tech studies teacher at our school. She has reminded me how useful to an experienced teachers development working with a student teacher can be. I see four big areas that having a student teacher helps me.
1. Reflection – Student teachers ask questions. This is a good thing. Unlike students who ask questions about how to do something or what is the answer, student teachers as why questions. These why questions cause teachers to reflect on their practice. Some of the questions I have been asked this year have made me consider my planing of my units, and how they fit with the curriculum I am using. I have also had to think about the explicit reasons behind some of the teaching practices I use with my students
2. Enthusiasm – Student teachers have enthusiasm, after 10 years of teaching I must admit there are days in which I just go through the motions. These days are rare, but they do happen. Often talking to another teacher or checking out what exciting educational things are being shared on twitter can help this mood. Having a student teacher, who is still fresh and enthusiastic can rub off and help to renew that enthusiasm in teachers. My student teacher has made me think about some new things I can try with my class.
3. Organisation – Student teachers are required to present lesson plans as part of their course work. I must admit my lesson plans have in many cases degenerated to a few dot points on my note pad (in addition to my list of resources such as weblinks and videos). My student teacher has made me think more about this. I have also been required to plan my semesters in more depth as my student teacher wanted to know which topics I wanted taught next term in the middle of this term, this is a good thing too.
4. Helping Others – One of the keys of education (as I see it) is to help others to develop their understanding of the world. By helping new teachers we can help many students in the future, increasing our reach. The first student teacher I worked with (in my second year of teaching) will next term become a principal at a country school. I feel honoured to have worked with him and think about how many students will be impacted in the future by his leadership. Not all student teachers will have such an influence but they will help some students in the future.
So have you had a student teacher in your class? Are there other ways having a student teacher helps you? How many are in your school this year?