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THE EXCELLENT STUDENT TEACHER

Working with an excellent student teacher can be an enjoyable, rewarding experience for a
cooperating teacher, yet it can be as difficult as working with an incompetent one. It may seem
incomprehensible that it would be difficult to work with someone who demonstrates the following
positive qualities:

Conscientious, prompt, punctual, responsible, honest


Flexible, risk taker
Knowledgeable, creative, grounded
Enthusiastic. positive attitude, caring, empathetic, able to build rapport, with-it
Good planning, management and organizational skills, problem solver
Initiative, self starter, ambitious, wants to be there
Effective use of varied instructional strategies, learns quickly
Relates well with others, cooperative, accepts and acts on constructive criticism

However, problems can, and do, arise from two entirely separate dimensions; one being from the
cooperating teachers perspective and the other from the student teachers personal issues.
Due to a student teacher already exhibiting a high level of these skills, some cooperating teachers
may be intimated and find it difficult to offer suggestions and identify areas for improvement;
therefore, they dont offer enough, if any, feedback. The high performing student teacher still
needs nurturing guidance, specific feedback and improvement goals to become a well-rounded
educator; in fact, many of them desire constant improvement to better their skills. The cooperating
teachers feedback may focus on the expansion of content knowledge, investigation of new
methodology, fine-tuning of skills, integration of technology, planning of interdisciplinary units,
differentiation of instruction, etc. Lifelong learning and professional growth are important to all
educators and setting the tone for self reflection and goal setting with an excellent student teacher
is an important aspect of the cooperating teachers role.
Sometimes an excellent student teacher, because they have many of the qualities mentioned above
and find it quite easy to run a classroom, struggle with interpersonal behaviors. Being a high
achiever, a student teacher may not understand or be able to relate to those students who dont
meet set expectations due to either low motivation or difficult life situations. He/she may exhibit
inappropriate behaviors with colleagues by making rash personal judgments about other staff due
to impatience/intolerance for professional circumstances or the inability to accept a different
viewpoint. A third concern may come in the form of the student teachers stagnation in using the
same effective teaching practices due to fears of leaving his/her comfort zone. A final problem may
be with an energetic, confident student teacher who is always charging ahead and cannot wait for
the next new opportunity without refining instruction and reflecting upon past successes.
What can a cooperating teacher do to help an excellent student teacher? First, the inappropriate
behaviors must be identified whether it is through direct questioning, journaling of perceptions,
sharing of personal experiences, etc. Secondly, a discussion concerning the professional and
personal impact of the behaviors, the student teachers recognition of the behaviors and suggestions
for changing the behaviors is necessary. Finally, the cooperating teacher must be willing to assist
with corrective actions.
When conferencing with an excellent student teacher it is important to give positive, constructive
suggestions, coupled with praise. Encourage the skills of self-reflection, emphasize the importance
of ongoing deliberation and instructional enhancement, promote the expansion of the student
teachers personal knowledge base, support the development of a vision for the classroom, stress
the understanding of professional ethics and guide the student teacher toward reaching his/her full
potential.