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First time mentoring a student teacher... any tips?

(31 Posts)
BlossomKill Thu 23-Feb-17 10:52:03

I have a student teacher starting in my class next week and have been thinking about what sorts of things I'll need to do; she's observing in class for a few weeks initially then starting to teach...

The provider has said that there will be training for in-school mentors at some point and obviously I'll need to introduce her to my class, go through planning, assessments and other paperwork with her (she did her second placement at the school so will be familiar with some things already) but I was wondering if anyone had any advice to help make sure she gets the most out of her placement with us?

70ontheinside Thu 23-Feb-17 18:41:03

When observing, give your student specific tasks. It is easy to drift off and just be a silent participant. Better to look out for how the differentiation is working etc.

Plan together. Say why you are doing what.

Teach specific elements, e.g. revision carousel, drilling xyz, transitions.

Give constructive feedback and don't undermine student's authority in lessons (should be obvious, but...).

BoneyBackJefferson Thu 23-Feb-17 18:50:29

Introduce them as a teacher and an equal,
Unless things are going spectacularly wrong let them deal with it.
If its their first placement give them twenty minute sections to start with.
Try to coach as much as mentor, leading questions,
How do you think that went?
Why? (always a good one)
If you taught it again what would you change?
Don't over criticise, try to get them to pick specific areas to improve.

CoffeeDiamonds Thu 23-Feb-17 18:51:59

Be kind. Be honest.

primaryboodle Thu 23-Feb-17 18:54:43

Tell them to plan specifically how they will assess throughout the lesson (peer marking, group mini quizzes, number fans, mini whiteboards etc). Nobody pointed this out to me for ages and i got a crap observation on my first placement because i didnt know who did/didnt understand until i marked their books - i wish someone had told me this at the start! So simple once you get it. Please treat them as an equal in front of the children (by asking for advice here your already clearly not one of those teachers!)

You know the old saying 'don't smile until Christmas'? Do a more 'grown up' version of that. I mean, start with high expectations (you need to see all planning a week in advance, for example). It's easier to relax your rules if you have a good trainee than to build in more stringent ones if they need more support iyswim.

Lizzylou Thu 23-Feb-17 20:13:29

As an recently qualified Secondary teacher who benefited from some fabulous mentors, be kind (even when criticising!), approachable (but professional), don't interrupt lessons, allow for differing styles of teaching (something that I know some fellow trainees suffered with, having to be a clone of their mentor or suffer crippling criticism), be aware of how tough it can be. My first lesson plan took me literally all weekend!
Things that you take for granted as being easy, ie. marking, may take a trainee an age. Check that they are hitting their targets/keeping up. Make sure that their folder is being updated regularly and not being left until the last minute (again, some fellow trainees massively suffered with this).
My Mentor always made me email my weeks lesson plans by Sunday or else I couldn't teach. That has stood me in such good stead, I still have everything planned by Sunday Eve now.
Often she would come to me afterwards and say "I really didn't think that would work, but it did, well done!" and I was pleased that she let me make my own mistakes.

70ontheinside Thu 23-Feb-17 21:03:20

If your student has a life family don't make them hand in lesson plans for the week by Sunday!!!
Show them how it's done in the real world - plan in good time.
Don't exploit their enthusiasm or let them be exploited by colleagues. They are not an extra pair of hands, they are there to learn.

Lizzylou Thu 23-Feb-17 21:18:21

hmm I have a family and a life and find being planned by Sunday aids both well.
It's an excellent routine to get into and don't forget that students don't teach very many lessons.

sashh Fri 24-Feb-17 02:33:32

Only give relevant / useful feedback. Telling a teacher in a wheelchair they can't see the whole class because they are not standing isn't helpful - a strategy to help is.

Yes it has happened.

Wonderpants Fri 24-Feb-17 08:06:52

Make sure you give them some kind of induction, access to policies, IT, schemes of work, medium term plans etc. (I didn't have any of these for my first placement and it made life very difficult!)

Give the student the information they need about the class. How is the best way to manage the talky kid? Why is the quiet kid so withdrawn?

Don't give the class the talk about how 'miss' is here to learn how to be a teacher and we must help her.

Be available for your student, let them text you and email out of school hours if they need to. It honestly makes a difference! And be patient- they might sound like daft questions to you- but your student might have tied herself into knots for days before asking.

Be kind! Especially if they are starting to fall apart. Kindness and encouragement will go a long way.

Have a laugh! Be a team! Have your own little in-jokes.

Make a fuss when they leave- that card signed by all the children will be treasured for than anything!

Don't give the class the talk about how 'miss' is here to learn how to be a teacher and we must help her.

People do that?! Wow!

I always say 'visiting from another school'

MrsGuyOfGisbo Fri 24-Feb-17 19:45:26

you need to see all planning a week in advance
why???
If this happened in the real world, we wouldn't see threads about supply teachers coming into classes with no planning done...
Unlikely that the planning I so awful that it needs to be completely re-done rather than tweaked and just puts unnecessary stress on. If you are employing a 'professional' you can trust them to do the work in good time.

Martin1991 Fri 24-Feb-17 19:50:07

Be kind, chat to them, share planning, and give feedback. My daughter is in her 2nd year placement at the moment and some days the teacher hasn't even acknowledged her. All of the above isn't happening.

partystress Fri 24-Feb-17 20:22:37

There are some new standards for mentors. Not fully adopted, but an attempt to get some consistency in the way the role is defined. Some training providers are looking at how to add some kind of accreditation. https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachmentdata/file/536891/Mentorr_standardsreportt_Final.pdf

BoneyBackJefferson Sat 25-Feb-17 00:25:30

MrsGuyOfGisbo
why???
If this happened in the real world, we wouldn't see threads about supply teachers coming into classes with no planning done...

Its called jumping through hoops and ensuring that any issues can be picked in time for strategies or interventions to take place.

I agree with the week in advance thing but I'd ask for planning to be in by Friday to avoid the expectation that weekends are for working.

MaisyPops Sat 25-Feb-17 07:37:05

Follow the training guide to the letter and keep your own detailed records.
Some trainees are fabulous and others are difficult. One year I had a trainee who ignored feedback, spent lots of time gossiping and complaining wuth other trainees and then tried to argue it was because I was a mean mentor for expecting them to do basic things like follow school behvaiour policy, have mentor meetings weekly, attend team meetings etc.

I give my number to trainees but its sort of on the unserstandinh of quick questions and reassurance. Not texting me wednesday night about planning for thursday.

Otherwise just be kind and honest. Let them know that any criticism is to help them grow.

BakingWithPreSchoolerand6YO Sat 25-Feb-17 08:22:35

Lots of great advice here.

I'd add - have a "code phrase" that the trainee can say when he / she is teaching that is a signal that they want you to intervene. Something like "I don't accept that kind of behaviour and I know that MENTOR NAME doesn't either." Or "What do you think about xyz MENTOR NAME?"
It allows the trainee to ask for your help during a lesson without looking like they're flailing.

Also, make sure when you're observing at first you sit near any known to be disruptive children - it'll give the trainee a fairer chance to see how effective their lesson planning is instead of being de-railed by behaviour management. They will obviously have to develop their behaviour management skills, but if they can't plan effective and engaging lessons they've got no chance when it comes to managing behaviour.

thethoughtfox Sat 25-Feb-17 12:11:14

Get them to backward plan the whole placement of lesson for each class at the very beginning ( you can help if necessary) It is the best way to make sure they actually get the unit or course of lessons finished and have time to do any grading etc and take the piece of work / unit through to completion.

BlossomKill Sat 25-Feb-17 17:02:38

Thank you all for the advice! flowers Lots to think about and particularly useful to find out about the mentor standards and other aspects I'd not thought of!

toomuchicecream Sun 26-Feb-17 19:35:14

Be very clear about your expectations and be prepared to repeat them again and again, if necessary. I've had some fab students who emailed me all their planning at the weekend so we were able to have a professional dialogue about what they were doing and how it could be tweaked (if necessary). This was on top of our weekly planning meeting of course.

But I had one student who I had to fight really hard to get plans from after the lessons - turned out she wasn't actually writing plans because even though it was her final placement, she'd never been asked to write her own plans before - on her second placement the teacher was apparently a control freak and she just had to teach from his plans. If she'd told me it was a problem we could have sat down together to help her address it, but as she masked it for so long, she ended up dropping out.

And the student I had before Christmas was incredibly reluctant to send me plans in advance too. She started off OK then sort of stopped doing it (ie sent me plans for observed lessons/some subjects, but not others). I reiterated why it's important and she did it for a couple of weeks, then stopped again. She never replied to any of my emails suggesting things she should think about in her planning either - I literally didn't know if she'd read the replies I spent so long writing until I watched a lesson and could see if she'd made any changes to her original plan or not. It's so, so frustrating sitting watching lessons where your class aren't learning because the objective for the lesson was wrong, or the activities don't match the objective, or the work is pitched wrongly. It's absolutely fine for students to make these mistakes - they are students after all. But by sharing planning in advance, the disruption to the class can be minimised.

Don't make any assumptions! Just because you work in a certain way, they aren't going to know that unless you spell it out to them! Good luck - having a good student is great....

financialiasco Sun 26-Feb-17 19:38:32

There are some new standards for mentors. Not fully adopted, but an attempt to get some consistency in the way the role is defined. Some training providers are looking at how to add some kind of accreditation.

I will be clicking on the link provided, but also wanted to reply quickly. This is a bit rich tbh. There is no payment for being a mentor, and, more importantly imo, no time given either. I object to the idea of being held to standards without even either of these being in place. I have mentored for the last 8 years and believe I have done a good job, and have always had positive feedback and can honestly say I do most of the positive things mentioned on this thread. I have held many a tearful Sunday night phone call, but I'm not going to be judged more formally unless something is put in place from the other side to acknowledge the work and effort it does take to do a good job. This is a role that takes a lot out of someone, but like so much in teaching, is dependant on goodwill.

toomuchicecream Sun 26-Feb-17 20:33:52

Agreed x 1000!! The rude and non-proactive student I had for the whole of the autumn term was a SCITT student, so she was with me for 3 or 4 days every week. At the end of the term she agreed that most of her learning had been in our school, not on her day out at the lead school. I spent all of my PPA for the whole term, plus an unmeasurable amount of time before and after school and at lunchtime with her. For that I received precisely nothing. Worse - the school got £342 which came to less than the cost of the supply cover needed for me to attend all of the compulsory training/meetings the SCITT said we needed to take part in. I won't ever be having a SCITT student again.

Faithless12 Sun 26-Feb-17 20:53:25

Allow them to debrief when you can after lessons and tell them the positives. It's very easy to get caught up in the negative aspects.
Be honest, did the students learn, they are there to learn how they teach not necessarily be a carbon copy of you.

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