Help for student teachers, mentors and cooperating teachers

by Alan Haskvitz

I clearly remember my less-than-ideal experiences as a student teacher at Cal Poly Pomona. One supervising teacher left me alone from the start to go play basketball. The other was excellent and provided needed feedback.

Unfortunately, Cal Poly provided a woman who had not been in the classroom for years as my observer. She complained when I called the students “kids” and when my dress shirt was not fully buttoned to the top. She missed that one lesson featured a Japanese exchange student explaining the role of the emperor and that students were using primary documents. She missed that the students were so into the debate they didn’t want to leave the room when the bell rang. She also missed that their reflection essays showed a clear change in their point of view.

For my final lesson plan demonstration before fellow student teachers, I painted my face with a burnt cork and wore a turtleneck sweater. I came as an African American student and gave my fellow white student teachers a test on slang words. I played loud music, told them if they failed they couldn’t go to college, and collected their work with disdain.

The supervising teacher didn’t get it and gave me a failing grade. I had to go to the dean and face representatives from every discipline to be allowed to stay in the program. As luck would have it, 25 years later Cal Poly’s teacher preparation department asked me to be its outstanding alumnus at the school’s anniversary celebration. As such, I have deep feelings about all student teachers.

Consequently, I have put together some resources to help in this most difficult time. Following are tools to help in the transition from student to student teacher to educator.

I have placed the best resources for new teachers here: