The joys of having a student teacher

When I was approached last Spring about taking on a student teacher, many of my co-workers relayed horror stories of their experiences as a cooperating teacher. This, combined with my own observations of some student teachers, led me to reconsider my decision many times. Lucky for me, the student teacher I am working with is great. He knows his content, he knows how to teach, and he has the ability to shift gears on the fly – a skill that many veteran teachers sometimes lack.

For the past few weeks, he has been the main teacher in my social science class, which means I’m out of the classroom. I have two takeaways from this.

First, time is a gift. Being out of the classroom for 4 additional periods a day gives you time to get things done. I’ve been able to plan ahead, create new units of study, do curriculum work, and research new ideas to try (like Genius Hour). All teachers say, “I wish I had time to…” Right now, I have that time to do whatever my heart desires, and I am so grateful for that.

But the second takeaway is the one that I think I’m more surprised by. I find myself at times being completely jealous of my student teacher because he is with my students, and I am not. As I think about the lesson that we’ve planned together, I find myself wishing I was there to see this, or explain that. While I have moments of being completely annoyed that I’m not teaching a lesson, I couldn’t be happier about it. What if I found myself dreading coming back into the classroom? The fact that I’m so excited to be coming back to the classroom shows me that I still have the passion for this job that I had when I was 22. In fact, I think I have a greater passion for teaching now than I did in my first few years.

To all the teachers who think that taking on a student teacher is too big of a responsibility, all I can do is pass on my experience. When my wife and I were dating in college and separated by 750 miles, I used to hear people say, “absence makes the heart grow fonder.” That statement was true then, and it is true for me and the classroom.


One thought on “The joys of having a student teacher

  1. I couldn’t agree more Chris! I had the same reservations when I accepted my first student teacher last fall. I also was blessed that my student teacher was knowledgeable about the content and more importantly had an excellent rapport with our students.
    I also shared your same two emotions. I was able to attend so much professional development, work on our HST pilot, and most importantly I got the chance to observe so many of my fabulous colleagues. I was able to learn and grow at a rate I had never experienced during my time in education. I’m also not ashamed to admit I too became jealous of my student teacher as well. I have so much fun teaching and missed that so much being out of the classroom.
    Working with my student teacher I gained new approaches as well as I had a greater appreciation for all the little things that we do each day that as you become a veteran teacher you take for granted as just part of the routine.
    I would recommend to veteran teachers that are looking to recharge their teaching betteries to take on the role of cooperating teacher. I hope they have the same positive experiences that you and I did.
    You are also motivating me as usual. I need to start blogging and start genius hour too. Great post Chris!


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