Student teaching is an experience full of possibilities and for many student teachers (ST) is the exciting culmination of their teacher preparation journey. Student teachers and cooperating teachers (CT or CI) may have misconceptions that they bring to the placement, and both the CT and ST may need to manage their expectations. Consider these common misbeliefs and the contrasting realities.
Reality Even student teachers that have gone through the same teacher preparation program will differ in their ability to plan and implement instruction in a real classroom. Individual personalities, teaching styles, content knowledge and general competence must always be considered.
Reality While placing a student teacher with an expert (CT) is the goal of all teacher education, it is important to remember that just like student teachers, CTs vary in their teaching competencies. Many CTs encourage student teachers to interact with other teachers who have different expertise than their own. Student teachers should learn from other teachers in their clinical placement.
Reality Some student teachers believe that they know what to expect and will be on par with their CT. They sometimes forget that they are a (working) visitor in someone else's classroom and their successes are bolstered by the presence of the experienced CT. Student teaching is part of a developmental process that moves them from course work to application.
Reality Praise is useful when it is specific and tied to the student teacher's performance. Pointing out only positive elements will result in a slower rate of learning than incorporating praise with critical feedback and strategies for change.
Reality Sometimes, student teachers feel as if the CT has already created every possible lesson, material or activity and they wonder why they can't just use existing materials. In other cases, the CT feels that the student teacher will learn more if they make everything from scratch. The truth lies in the middle and is exemplified within a co-teaching model.