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Should there be common standards for student teachers?

With all the talk of common standards in education, the next set of standards may be for student teachers. It’s something Idaho is considering through a new pilot program.

Two teachers at Summit Hills Elementary in Bonneville County are part launching the three-semester experiment. They attended the first meeting in Boise earlier this week. One of those teachers, Alesha Johnson, said student teaching is one of the best experiences aspiring teachers have in college. Now, it’s time to make that experience even more effective.

“The goal in the long run is that all the universities in the state of Idaho will use this program with their student teachers so that all schools that are hiring will know they came from a well-vetted program,” said Johnson.

Part of that may be changing how student teachers are evaluated. Currently, it’s only up to their college supervisors, who visit the student’s classroom three or four times per semester.

“The teachers give us feedback after the lesson and say ‘How did you think you did?’ and ‘This is what I recommend’ but nothing is really formal and it doesn’t go back to the school,” said Brigham Young University Idaho senior Karly Leavitt. She is a teaching candidate under Johnson.

The new program would give mentor teachers the opportunity to evaluate their student teacher.

“I’m actually really excited about it because right now as mentor teacher I do not fill out evaluation forms. I just try to come up with things as I notice as the student teacher is teaching. I think this will give me some good talking points and let me be more specific with them,” said Heather Andrews, a fourth-grade teacher at Summit Hills.

That feedback is important to teaching candidate Larissa Orr, who has specific goals for her semester.

“My biggest (goal) is the classroom management, that’s the thing that I’ve always struggled with,” said Orr.

Knowing those past hurdles is valuable to mentor teachers. The new program would make a digital record of the student teacher’s education.

“They haven’t really been able to track before because it was just a process of keeping forms, and who wants to keep a form for four years?” said Johnson.

At BYU-Idaho, some things Leavitt and Orr are evaluated on is professionalism, classroom management, content knowledge, and content delivery.

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