Challenging Communication Cases
for Student Teachers

Consider these difficult communication scenarios that may occur during student teaching--they were taken from real cases! As a student teacher, how would you address each case? How would you use assertive communication and active listening in your responses? After typing your answers, compare your responses to our experts' real-world suggestions. (Your typed responses will appear along with the expert responses, but will not be saved.)

(1) Case: Unexpected responsibility

Parent conferences are tomorrow. Your cooperating teacher (CT) tells you that she is going to be away and you must conduct the conferences alone. She gives you notes she wants you to share with parents. You know this is against school policy and are very uncomfortable facing parents' questions. What would you say to her about this issue?

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(2) Case: Interrupted lessons

In the middle of the lesson you're teaching, your CT hops up and says, "No, that's not right." He then spends 10 minutes elaborating on a tangential point that wasn't the lesson's focus. Interruptions like this happen regularly. What would you say to him about this issue?

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(3) Case: Coordinating planning time

You have an expert CT and you know you are learning a lot about teaching and children. Only one thing is not working: Your CT often uses afterschool planning time to talk to other teachers. While you love interacting with other teachers, you also spend a lot of time sitting around after getting your work done waiting for your CT to "pack it in for the day." What would you say to her about this issue?

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These challenging cases were collected from real stories from student teachers who were a part of the Teacher Education Program at the Curry School of Education.

assertive communication