This week I had the pleasure of having my first ever student teacher. It was for more of a “practicum” as some people call it or in our local university lingo “level 3,” the last level before a full semester of student teaching. It. WAS. AWESOME.
I have been impatiently waiting for the opportunity to host a university student for the past years, as you can not have one until you have your standard Iowa teaching license. Except I used to think I wanted a student to be able to help me out. Boy was I missing the whole point. Having a university student in your classroom is not just so they can complete menial tasks for you, or teach so you do not have to. Having a university student is an opportunity to be a mentor, co-teacher, and coach. It is a chance to have a collaborative partner to share ideas and immediately reflect on both their teaching as well as your own. In a language class it gives you another speaker of the target language to model conversations, and personalized questioning and answering. It means as a team you can plan to go back and forth taking the lead, and being the assistant who circulates the room providing proximity and student assistance.
As a teacher you get to TEACH an eager student (teacher) who really wants to learn how you do things in your classroom and best practices. I was able to spread my new found love for comprehensible input based teaching, and have a new believer who is so excited about using these techniques in her own future classroom. She said on multiple occasions how impressed she was with the students ability to understand what was being done in the target language in the classroom. As 4th week students of Spanish the rowdy 8th graders GET IT. She was able to see first hand story asking in action and the 8th graders loving every minute of a girl in their class seeing, meeting, and then rejecting Kanye, while running the other way. (Camina y Corre story by Martina Bex)
After just one week together she gave me the sweetest thank you card, which really reminded me what I do what I do. I TEACH. But, this week I got to teach more than just students, and it was more rewarding than I ever though possible. So, if you are ever asked about mentoring future teachers. DO IT. Will you actually have all of this extra time since they are doing everything for you? No, not if you are really focusing on coaching, reflecting, and working with your student teacher. Will it be worth it? YES.