Ms. Valentino, As you know, at this point in the student teaching process, the student teacher would ordinarilly be taking over the class completely. I am sure you would agree that we have not reached that point yet, and neither I nor you would feel comfortable with me completely relinquishing control. I have made the decision that Ms. Holway and I will continue teaching the course while you and I address some key issues. It is my hope that with intensive work, collaboration, and further observation, we will soon reach a point where all parties feel comfortable moving forward to the next step. At this time, however, we need to consider the needs of the students above all else. I know that you are being observed tomorrow, and I will speak with your supervisor about this determination. I will also tell him that I would like to implement a scaffolded program culminating in April with a formal observation using the Danielson Model. Below, please find a few specific concerns and pieces of advice. I know that I have shared these with you in the past, but they merit mentioning again. Please bear in mind that you are still a STUDENT teacher and even the most veteran staff members still have much to learn. 1) Have confidence in your teaching! This entails your planning, your teaching, the material and how you present yourself. If you do not show confidence; the students will know right away and take advantage of that. (It is like a dog sensing fear). Trust what you have planned for the day. Do not second guess yourself if you put in the time. Also use the internet and find what other teachers are doing or have done to teach that lesson get new ideas. Google is your friend. The buzz words are student-centered and self guided learning. 2) Be stern but fair - raise your voice when needed, wait when needed and learn the difference between the two. Waiting too long causes you to lose more respect, because they are taking advantage of you. 3) OVER PLAN – the lessons you have planned in the past border on too short. Even the most veteran teachers still have a Plan B or even C. Have extra examples ready to go, do not always rely on a worksheet, and mix it up a little. You don’t have to use the extra examples but have some ready in case the students do not understand what is going on. 4) As a first time teacher, lessons should be made in advance and you need to make sure you are completely comfortable with the material before you teach it. This goes back to confidence. The students will be fully aware if you do not know what you’re doing. You need to have your answer key made up for the notes, classwork, and homework before you come in that day. Planning is EVERYTHING. 5) This is YOUR space and you are inviting students to join you in learning. Take charge, project your voice, and speak with conviction. Remember how Ms. B or Mrs. Egan gains the students’ focus again. You can only be confident, though, if you have a thoroughly planned. 6) Seize teachable moments!! When a student asks you a question that you suspect may be a common question, try acknowledging the validity of the question and speaking to the whole class when responding. 7) Planning needs to be done in a timely manner. As a teacher, you will balance a family, career, and social life. This is not to say that you must be in school until late at night. But you are
planning during school time and that is unacceptable as a teacher, let alone a student teacher. There is no easy answer. Teaching takes time, especially in the beginning. 8) Seek me for advice before and after class. Turning to me to answer questions during class undermines your authority. Students look to you to be a leader, and when you are establishing yourself you need to appear confident. 9) Every teacher has their own style. Remember that the way I interact with students won’t necessarily work for you. As I’ve stated in the past, I have built a previous relationship with them that allows me to be more casual when the situation warrants. It takes time and authority to build such relationships, but your invesment will pay off. At this point, we need to take a step back. You will continue to plan for Algebra II and teach those students. However, in the Algebra I classroom, Ms. Holway and I will take the forefront in instruction, asking you to step in for certain instructional elements. For example, we will work on mastering the do-now section, and then perhaps mini lessons and closure. I think focusing on the whole class period is a lot to digest, and perhaps this chunking method will be more effective. I hope before the end of April you will be ready for the entire class period and I can observe you and give you a Danielson Model evaluation. In order for this endeavor to be successful I must have your lessons in no later than 8pm so I can view them. At this time, the late submission of lesson plans prevents me from having time to provide substantive feedback and correct errors. Also, A block you will now be working with Mrs. Murray. Hopefully I can get ahold of Ms. B and have you observe her on a regular basis. That time will no longer be available for lesson planning, so please plan accordingly. You have the potential to do what every educator dreams – to make a difference in students’ lives. I want to help you achieve your goal, and it is my hope that this new plan will help you in that process.