At some point throughout your child’s school career, you’ll probably have to deal with a student teacher in your child’s classroom. In Western New York, the odds are pretty high. After all, there are education programs at Canisius College, University at Buffalo, Buffalo State, and many other Buffalo-area colleges, while Rochester has the Warner School of Education at the University of Rochester along with other programs.
As a former student teacher myself, I am here to assure you that you really don’t have anything to worry about when a student teacher begins integrating into the classroom, and here’s why.
For the first few weeks of student teaching, a student teacher is never left alone. Your child’s teacher, which is known as the student teacher’s cooperating teacher, will remain in total control of the classroom and will not leave the classroom in the inexperienced hands of the student teacher. The only times I was left alone during student teaching came during the final two weeks of my experience, and even then the cooperating teacher was only a quick phone call away.
Ultimately, the student teacher is never in total control of the classroom. Although student teachers do eventually take over lesson planning and the classroom management, the reason why student teachers spend the first part of their experience observing is so that they can fit into the classroom environment rather than radically altering it. Even when the student teacher creates the lesson plans or unit plans, the teacher is still actively involved in the process to make sure that your child is receiving the education he or she deserves.
Although student teachers do have three years of classroom experience in which they discuss the theory of education as well as the ins and outs of their specific content area, they do not have the experience of a classroom teacher in effectively meeting educational learning standards and in classroom management. But don’t fear. Cooperating teachers volunteer to host student teachers because they’re passionate about education–and they want future students to have outstanding teachers. However, this passion about eduation also means that cooperating teachers aren’t going to let your child’s education be negatively impacted by a student teacher. If the teacher notices any issues with content while the student teacher is in charge, he or she may approach it in one of two ways. The first option is that the teacher will approach the student teacher to rectify the error or gap in knowledge immediately after the lesson is taught, and instruct the student teacher to address the problem as soon as possible, which would be in the next lesson. The second option may be that the teacher decides to wait until after the student teacher has completed his or her experience to address the issue. Either way, remember that your child’s teacher genuinely has your child’s best interests at heart.
Student teachers are usually given some control over student grades during the time that they are teaching. If an issue arises for your child while the student teacher is in charge of grading, follow the same plan you would if the issue was with your child’s normal teacher. Don’t approach the student teacher, but use the classroom teacher as the mediator. It’s also important to remember that student teachers often do have a lot of theoretical training in grading, and they’re also guided by classroom teachers, so the grade given by the student teacher will usually stand.
Ultimately, student teaching is a necessary experience for all would-be teachers. It allows them to have real classroom experiences that put their education into practice, and the program ensures that future teachers will be better teachers. Have some patience with your child’s student teacher, but don’t allow your child’s education to suffer without speaking up. After all, parent-teacher conferences can provide a great learning opportunity for student teachers who are serious about entering the education field.