Classroom aides and student-teachers

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    Classroom aides and student-teachers

    OK, so classroom aides cost money,á Not as much as a lead teacher, but it's another salary, another set of benefits.á We had been privileged to have had them for years in our former community.But what of student-teachers? My daughter's elementary school has no system of a student-teacher program.á Most of the teachers are veterans, lead teachers who could well-mentor a grad student.It would seem that a college-elementary school collaboration would be a win-win for everyone.á Why won't all school systems participate?

     
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    Classroom aides and student-teachers

    I have had both paraprofessionals and student-teachers in my classroom.� Those are two very different positions.

    A classroom aide is normally assigned to a room for specific duties such as SPED coverage, subject specific needs, test prep, etc.� Most districts do not have the money for general education, full time classroom aides.� The advantages to a full time classroom assistant are that they are trained in their specific area of expertise, are already college graduates, and receive profesional development and on going education credits.� The aide is typically an extension of the teacher, following through with his/her discipline plan, routines, etc.�

    Student teachers are, by all means, students.� They are learning.� The classroom teacher must observe them, provide feedback, and work cooperatively with the school of education to evaluate the student.� Student teachers are not used as supplements to the classroom in the way that assistants are.� Over the course of a term, student teachers slowly take on more responsibility, starting by teaching spelling (for example) and then picking up math the next week, followed by social studies, until all subjects have been adopted and the classroom teacher is strictly observing.� Then control is slowly given back to the classroom teacher.� Also, the student teacher is encouraged to work out their own classroom management plans, routines, and so on.�

    Another reason your proposal may not work is the sheer number of bodies necessary.� Most schools of education have limited enrollment and that includes students studying in all grade levels and all subject areas.� Student teaching is normally just one semester out of an educator's training.� So if a school of education has 300 students, perhaps only 100 of them are in their student teaching semester, spread that out over early childhood, elementary, middle, and high school and you only have about 25 bodies/level, or about 6 per grade.� Also, schools of education prefer to get their students exposure in multiple environments, rural, suburban, and urban.� Of the 100 student teachers, perhaps only 1/3 of them are on their suburban placement.�

    I work in a town with a college and neighboring two others.� All have large schools of education.� We have had a total of about 10 student teachers and pre-practicum students over the last 5 years.� The number of bodies just is not there.� The numbers are the same for the other schools in my district.

    One model that does work is the IB/M model.� It was first used in New England by the University of Connecticut and has since been adopted (and adapted) by BC, UMass, and some of the smaller state schools.� After the student teaching semester (last term of senior year), the students come back for a one year, intensive master's program by which they complete a one year internship.� These internships are positions� proposed by� the school districts.� The university's school of education� then decides which ones to take and the students sign up for them.� The internships are generally teaching positions (not classroom positions) that are not budgeted for.� For example a technology coordinator/teacher, a reading specialist, a diagnostician for a SPED department, gifted and talented extensions, etc.� Schools save money, kids learn more than they would have, and prospective teachers have something unique on their resume.� It truly is a win-win-win.

     

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