Every qualified teacher was once a student teacher on placement. A huge part of the experience involves the host teacher – whomever that is, it is generally out of the control of the student. It is important for the host teacher to have the correct frame of mind if she decides to offer her class to a student on placement.
Here are a number of suggestions for teachers who will host a student or who will at some point consider it:
- You were once where the student is now. Try to remember the huge effort that the student will most likely put in every day in order to prepare for placement. It can be a stressful experience, so make sure to offer some advice or guidance whenever you deem it appropriate. It might seem like a small gesture but it can make a massive difference for a student.
- Offer your classroom resources for use by the student. These are for the children anyway – tell your student not to buy anything that you already have access to in your school. Remember how expensive it can be for a student who most likely won’t be earning any money during the weeks of school placement.
- You should want to have a student in your classroom. If this is the case, that’s great. If this is not the case and you have been told by your principal that you’ll be getting a student regardless of your view on the matter, please make the most of the situation. The student will pick up very quickly the feeling of not being welcome if you don’t engage in any real or meaningful way with them, and this will add difficulty to her time in your classroom, as well as being a stressful experience.
- You, as the host teacher, are ultimately responsible for the teaching and learning in the classroom. If you observe something that you consider worthy of note (good or bad practice), discuss this with the student. You are the qualified, experienced professional and you should share your wisdom with the student if you observe bad practice, but remember to deal with this tactfully. Equally, affirm the student on her good practice. Your feedback is more important to the student than you might think.
- When their supervisor/tutor comes to assess them, please be honest with them when they ask how the student is doing. Praise their strengths and suggest areas for improvement. Although School Placement is an examination, it is also a learning experience for the student.
- You should always feel free to have a look at the student’s planning folder, but mention it to the student first as a matter of courtesy if you intend on doing this. You may have suggestions for improvement and these may make a difference to the student’s planning grade.
This is not an exhaustive list and they are my own views on how to help students on placement. If you can add to the above suggestions or would like to suggest amendments, please feel free to leave a comment below.