When it works well, having a trainee teacher working alongside you can be great: not only do you have the satisfaction of nurturing a new entrant to the profession and passing on your professional wisdom, but you are likely to revisit and critique your own teaching, and may be challenged to do things in a new way (particularly if the trainee comes buzzing with lots of ideas and approaches that they want to try). They may also be able to share with you some recent research findings that you, snowed under with day-to-day matters in school, might not have got round to reading quite yet.
Your partner ITT/ITE institution, if you have one, will hopefully provide you with training, or at least some written guidance, but here is a checklist of things you may need to do to make the placement run smoothly.
Your trainee will start teaching! Depending on the confidence of the trainee, they might start team-teaching with you, taking responsibility for phases of lessons (such as the starter or the plenary) – or launch straight in. Make sure that you have agreed the expectations in advance.
Arrange regular observations of your trainee: your partner ITT/ITE institution might have given you guidance on exactly how often observations should take place. Make sure that you observe across all the classes that they are teaching. It’s often helpful for you and other colleagues to observe your trainee: colleagues might be able to offer different tips and insights.
Give your trainee a timetabled slot each week in order to discuss their progress: this is an opportunity to celebrate what’s gone well and set targets for development. This should be an uninterrupted, ring-fenced slot to give the trainee a guaranteed opportunity to talk with you, discuss what’s on their mind and look forward to their next challenge. Ensure that you are not taken for cover or hijacked by other colleagues.
Arrange for your trainee to complete other training activities that will help to develop their teaching. This might include:
Check that the trainee is keeping a record of their progress against the Professional Standards and that they are gathering evidence to corroborate this.
Ensure that the relevant paperwork is completed on time (and forwarded to relevant partners/colleagues, if required).
Liaise with their tutor, course leader or moderator when they visit and make sure that you have the opportunity to talk to them to discuss the trainee’s progress.
It doesn’t always go smoothly: perhaps your trainee is not as organised as a good teacher needs to be, or they get demoralised when they find it hard to build a positive relationship with a class, or their subject knowledge for a particular unit of work is wanting.
If you have any issues or concerns, contact the trainee’s ITT/ITE provider as soon as you can. Remember that the trainee’s problems are not necessarily a reflection on your mentoring skills, and the course leader would much prefer to know sooner rather than later if the trainee is struggling.
In collaboration with their course leader or training coordinator, and your school’s ITE coordinator, you will be able to discuss how best to support the trainee and plan the next steps.