October 3, 2016

What To Do If You Get A Bad Student Teacher

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Student Teachers can be AMAZING!!  I have been priviledged to have two incredibly AWESOME student teachers that did a fabulous job and were so great to work with. I remember when I had my first student teacher and another one of my co-workers had a BAD student teacher. Poor thing was miserable all semester working with this young lady. I remember showing her sympathy but I didn't really realize just how much damage a BAD student teacher can do and how difficult it is to deal with them...until I had my own BAD student teacher experience. I have to admit that I learned more from this experience that I did the positive experiences. 


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When I say BAD student teacher, I don't mean that he was a bad person or that he did anything illegal. Here are a few of the problems we had to give you an idea: 

1. He was arrogant & let me know that he didn't need to do student teaching. He thought it was a silly requirement and he couldn't learn anything from me. I had been teaching for 8 years at the time and had hosted multiple student teachers at this point so I knew his attitude was not where it should be. I understood that he was eager to do things his way but I felt he should have been more interested in learning. 

2. When asked politely, he would not make necessary changes in class. For example, all he wanted to do was lecture using a powerpoint and it normally wouldn't last the entire period. I suggested that he incorporate more strategies and have the students do some activities to assess their learning. He was not interested in doing this. It took me being VERY forceful to get him to do what I had asked.  

3. He was frequently absent & would not let me know until the last possible minute. He was also regularly late to school and wanted to leave as soon as the bell rang to end the day. 

4. He did not want to work with me on lesson plans. He basically thought he didn't need them. He did the bare minimum to keep me and his university supervisor off his back. When he did turn in his lesson plans, he did so very late after I pestered him over & over again. 

Ultimately, we both survived and he went on to teach at another school but it had to be one of the toughest semesters of my career. I learned quite a lot from this experience. I hope you never find yourself in this situation but if you do, don't make my mistake and allow this to go on too long. 

Here are some suggestions if you find yourself in the same predicament I was in: 

1. Try to talk to them

Obviously the first step when you notice things aren't going well is to try to talk with them. I actually tried this so many times (too many times honestly). I let this step go too far really. He wasn't turning his lesson plans in to me. I would ask & ask but he never had them done on time. I should have spoken to his supervisor earlier than I did. 

2. Talk to their university supervisor

I would encourage you to have open dialogue with the university supervisor for your student teacher. One of the things that I didn't like with this particular student teacher is that his university supervisor was very difficult to contact and did not meet with me one-on-one like previous university supervisors. I should have pursued this earlier though & maybe things would have gotten corrected earlier. 

3. Ask another trusted colleague to observe them to make sure it isn't just your personalities.

Part of the reason I was reluctant to say things to his university supervisor is because he and I had opposite personality types. I was afraid maybe it was just me and that I was expecting too much. This is where I wished I had confided in a colleage earlier in the semester to check out the situation and give their opinion. 

Be careful that you pick someone that has worked with a student teacher before. If someone has never had one, they aren't as likely to understand the situation. Also be sure you pick someone that is trustworthy and isn't going to "run their mouth off" about yourand your student teaching situation. The whole school doesn't need to know about it. 

4. No Recommendation Letter for you!

Ultimately I did not write a recommendation letter for this student teacher. I debated back & forth for a while. My husband gave me the best advice, "Use Kindergarten Rules: If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all." He made me realize that this student teacher didn't necessarily deserve to have his career ruined because of this experience but at the same time, I didn't need to put my stamp of approval on him either. I remained silent. 

5. Don't Leave the Room

When it came to this student teacher, I did not trust him enough to leave the room. I stayed & watched everything that was done because I wasn't confident enough that he could handle the class or actually provide instruction if I wasn't watching. 

6. Take back your class if students are suffering

I ultimately did not allow him the opportunity that my other student teachers had. My other student teachers taught as often as they wanted & pretty much taught the entire semester. Once the number of days he was required to teach were over, I took the class back. Honestly, I think he was happy about this but I was happy knowing my students were getting what they needed in an appropriate way. 

Overall it was a tough semester but it taught me quite a lot. Having a student teacher isn't always easy. Sometimes it can be fantastic and other times it can be a flop. Before your student teacher arrives, be sure your check out my post on, "How to Effectively Work With A Student Teacher." My hope is that this will help you avoide situations like I had. BUT if it does happen that you get a bad student teacher, do the best you can and try to follow some of the tips I suggested above. 

So, have you ever had a student teacher? How did it go? Any other suggestions you can think of? 

I would love to hear what you have to say! Please comment below! 

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