Opinion
School Climate & Safety Opinion

What Happens to Student-Teachers Now? A Guide for Teachers

7 steps for keeping prospective teachers in the fold, remotely
By John Pascarella — April 08, 2020 5 min read
BRIC ARCHIVE

If you welcomed a student-teacher into your classroom in January, you might now be questioning how to include her as you work to meet the basic instructional needs of your students. You’re probably feeling overwhelmed by the rapidly changing school policies on distance learning while navigating mounting pressures to troubleshoot new technologies like videoconferencing software. If that wasn’t enough, those pressures may be compounded for you as a parent or caregiver who is also tending to the learning needs of your own children.

Many educators take on student-teachers because they intuitively understand the value of their unique role in preparing new talent for the field. Research shows that beginning teachers who complete student-teaching and receive high-quality mentoring are twice as likely to remain in the profession. Odds are you began your career as a student-teacher who was mentored through your first lessons and interactions with students. Given the chance to pay it forward, you became a mentor teacher to share your guidance, wisdom, and influence. In doing so, you opened your classroom at a time when fewer college graduates are choosing teaching careers than at any time in recent history.

As a consequence of social-isolation measures in response to COVID-19, decisions about school closures, distance learning, and student-teaching have been made by a patchwork of federal, state, regional, and district leaders. School closures have sidelined many promising student-teachers, leaving mentor teachers to figure out distance learning on their own. Although these policy decisions might be causing you some ambivalence about how to proceed with your student-teacher, you might be his only lifeline as the details of social isolation get sorted out. Rather than putting them off, bring student-teachers back into the fold.

Here’s what you can do:

1. Empathize with your student-teachers. They also lost your classroom community and connections to your students. They also feel the pain, distance, and concerns about students and parents or caregivers who have been unreachable during this crisis. You are the conduit to your classroom through which they can reconnect with your students. Encourage them to partner with you to improve learning opportunities during this extraordinary situation.

School closures have sidelined many promising student-teachers, leaving mentor teachers to figure out distance learning on their own."

2. Recognize that your student-teacher may be better equipped to teach online than you. Most student-teachers have engaged in a wide range of digital-learning tasks, facilitated collaborative teamwork online, and used videoconferencing software. Leverage that experience. Invite them to co-plan digital-learning tasks and online lessons. Make them a co-host of virtual meetings and give them opportunities to lead. If you cannot give them access to closed learning platforms, include them in planning learning tasks that you post and share student work to involve them in grading.

3. Include your student-teacher in establishing new routines and norms for your students’ learning. Brainstorm new ideas with your student-teacher and be open to unfamiliar approaches. Your lack of exposure with a learning application or new platform might be an opportunity to leverage your student-teacher’s experience. Before shutting down an idea, allow the prospective teacher time to work through it, develop it further based off constructive feedback, and—if that specific idea proves infeasible—offer new ones.

4. Delegate responsibilities and partner with your student-teacher to keep in closer contact with your most vulnerable students. Your students who already have a history of anxiety, depression, learning and attention disorders, food or housing insecurity, or other health-related conditions are at greater risk during this crisis. Partner with your student-teacher to stay in regular touch with these students.

5. Work in tandem with your student-teacher to maintain online-engagement norms. You, your student-teacher, and your students are now looking into each other’s homes, so it is imperative that all parties be respectful of everyone’s privacy beyond what current school policies or laws require. Review this resource from the Consortium for School Networking on Video Conferencing Privacy Considerations with your student-teacher. Anticipate the likelihood that racial, cultural, linguistic, gender, sexual orientation, and economic biases might be explicitly or implicitly communicated during a videoconference meeting with your students. Be prepared to involve your student-teacher in addressing those biases in an effort to build greater transparency, trust, and safety throughout your school community.

6. Involve your student-teacher in addressing disruptive incidents and explicit acts of racism. While it’s unlikely you’ll experience “Zoombombing,” you have probably read about it or your district has informed you on how to change your Zoom settings. If you want to learn more, read this article from the Anti-Defamation League on “How to Prevent Zoombombing” and report any such incident to the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center. You can involve your student-teacher in addressing these disruptive incidents—most of which have been explicit acts of racism that are most traumatizing to marginalized students—should they occur. Racial issues don’t take a backseat to a global pandemic; they are only magnified by systemic inequities that this crisis is making worse and by racist incidents like Zoombombing.

7. Practice self-kindness in order to take better care of yourself and to model those efforts for your student-teacher. Reflect on the issues you can and cannot control. Share these reflections with your student-teacher. Take time with him or her to review social-emotional learning resources that have become available online in the wake of this crisis. “A Trauma-Informed Approach to Teaching Through Coronavirus” from Teaching Tolerance is a good place to start. This can unify your efforts with those of your student-teacher so that together you better respond to your students’ social-emotional-learning needs.

One month from now, you might find yourself looking back, either wondering how your student-teacher could have been more involved or realizing how valuable he or she has been in supporting your students’ learning through this crisis.

Now is the time. Reach out. Get your student-teacher on the phone. Make a plan to strengthen learning opportunities together for everyone’s sake.

Follow the Education Week Opinion section on Twitter.

Sign up to get the latest Education Week Opinion in your email inbox.

Events

Jobs The EdWeek Top School Jobs Virtual Career Fair
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Mathematics Webinar
Engaging Young Students to Accelerate Math Learning
Join learning scientists and inspiring district leaders, for a timely panel discussion addressing a school district’s approach to doubling and tripling Math gains during Covid. What started as a goal to address learning gaps in
Content provided by Age of Learning & Digital Promise, Harlingen CISD
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Curriculum Webinar
How to Power Your Curriculum With Digital Books
Register for this can’t miss session looking at best practices for utilizing digital books to support their curriculum.
Content provided by OverDrive

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School Climate & Safety Video A Year of Activism: Students Reflect on Their Fight for Racial Justice at School
Education Week talks to three students about their year of racial justice activism, what they learned, and where they are headed next.
4 min read
Tay Andwerson, front center, Denver School Board at-large director, leads demonstrators through Civic Center Park on a march to City Park to call for more oversight of the police Sunday, June 7, 2020, in Denver.
Tay Andwerson, front center, Denver School Board at-large director, leads demonstrators through Civic Center Park on a march to City Park to call for more oversight of the police Sunday, June 7, 2020, in Denver.
David Zalubowski/AP
School Climate & Safety Interactive Which Districts Have Cut School Policing Programs?
Which districts have taken steps to reduce their school policing programs or eliminate SRO positions? And what do those districts' demographics look like? Find out with Education Week's new interactive database.
A police officer walks down a hall inside a school
Collage by Vanessa Solis/Education Week (images: Michael Blann/Digital/Vision; Kristen Prahl/iStock/Getty Images Plus )
School Climate & Safety These Districts Defunded Their School Police. What Happened Next?
Six profiles of districts illustrate the tensions, successes, and concerns that have accompanied the changes they've made to their school police programs over the last year.
Deering High School in Portland, Maine, one of two schools to have their SROs removed.
Deering High School in Portland, Maine, one of two schools to have their SROs removed.
Ryan David Brown for Education Week
School Climate & Safety Defunded, Removed, and Put in Check: School Police a Year After George Floyd
Education Week has identified 40 school districts that defunded their police after last summer's Black Lives Matter protests.
Police officer outside of a school
Collage by Vanessa Solis/Education Week (image: Bastiaan Slabbers/iStock)