In our recent survey, we asked Band Directors Talk Shop readers, “What are your tips for cooperating/mentor teachers?” and, “What are your tips/expectations for student teachers?” With many responses to the survey, we came up with this categorized list of your answers. Thanks so much to all of our readers who took time to fill out the survey. Keep an eye out for more Readers’ Collaborative Posts in the future.
Tips for COOPERATING/MENTOR TEACHERS
- Be direct and honest. Tell them what they’re doing well, then what they’re not. Show them examples by doing the skill the right way, then the wrong way, and have them observe and give you feedback.
- Create an example folder of things that are helpful. Itineraries, bus list templates, go over the non-teaching paperwork side of things.
- Clearly stated expectations, don’t assume anything.
- Don’t be afraid to give the student teacher the podium with the top ensemble. Let them figure out how to plan for a top group as well as a lower group.
- Encourage the student teacher to keep the same hours as the cooperating teacher, but remember that they still usually also have university requirements and job interviews as well.
- Give them authentic opportunities. Don’t shield them from administrative tasks and meetings – they need to understand what goes into the job.
- Help them with classroom management – show them your tricks!
- Lead by example.
- Let them sit on parent conferences.
- Listen. Ask questions which will help you better understand what the student teacher needs.
- Prepare ahead of time the things that you need to share with them.
- Reflect with your student teacher on how they taught each day.
- Share things like fingering charts, rhythm sheets, so that they have a starting point when they get a job.
- Tell them they are doing a good job.
- Try to model the patience all teachers, especially young ones, need to be successful to grow in the profession.
- Walk student teachers through how to handle a class before they teach, especially if it’s a challenging class.
Tips for STUDENT TEACHERS
- Ask why the lead teacher is doing what they are doing and then ask follow-up questions like, “Can you tell me more about this?” or “Where did you find this resource?” or “How can I implement this in my future classroom?” Questioning leads to self-reflection and student teachers should be doing as much self-reflection as possible to continue to be lifelong learners.
- Ask questions – sometimes “experienced” (not old) teachers do things automatically and we may not explain it if you don’t ask.
- Attend all professional development and actively participate.
- Be accepting to learn something from every teacher you come in contact with. You can even learn from teachers that don’t teach the same thing you do.
- Be diligent in your classroom management. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Be fair, fun and energetic.
- Be prepared to take things in different directions as you teach a lesson.
- Don’t be afraid to fix the music. If it sounds wrong, STOP and fix it.
- Early is on time.
- Find a program that is different from where you went to school. If you went to a large suburban high school with a competitive marching band, student teach at a smaller school with a non-competitive band. Diversify your experiences.
- Gain experience with children before becoming a teacher. Be a scout leader, camp counselor, babysitter, volunteer at the Boys and Girls Club. Familiarity leads to confidence!
- Get as much hands-on practice as possible while you have a seasoned teacher available to assist.
- It’s okay to be unsure of yourself! You are here to learn.
- Learn all you can about pedagogy on all of the instruments that you plan to teach. There is no substitute for knowing all fingerings, alternates and intonation tendencies so you can demonstrate these for your students.
- Learn basic repair and instrument maintenance.
- Preparation is key, and reviewing that preparation is also of utmost importance.
- When you’re not teaching, play a secondary instrument.
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