Associate Teachers volunteer to assist Teacher Candidates with developing their skills and practice in the teaching profession. Associate Teachers want you to succeed and are there to help and mentor you. That said, they will need to produce a practicum report to submit to your faculty of education and as such, they follow the guidelines established by your Faculty of Education for such practicum reports.
The following advice was developed with the input of Associate Teachers to help you have a successful practicum and pre-service experience.
- Do the most that you are capable of, not the least.
Getting by is not good enough for a professional. Excellent teachers strive to do their very best all of the time – not just when they are being evaluated. Demonstrate your commitment to professional learning by listening to, thinking about and acting on your Associate Teacher's advice.
- Demonstrate your commitment to students and their learning by putting as much time and effort as necessary into preparing good, high quality lessons.
Ideally, working on lesson preparation a couple of days in advance allows time for feedback from your Associate Teacher before the lesson is taught. Make sure that you have a back-up plan in case the lesson doesn’t go as planned or doesn’t take as long as you thought it might.
- Always ensure that you arrive at school early enough to attend to any last minute preparations that may arise.
Stay after school long enough to meet with your Associate Teacher and to sample some of the other aspects of school life, including staff and federation meetings. Remember that you are to be there for the entire school day, even if you are only engaged in direct teaching for parts of the day.
- Respect student confidentiality and only discuss the performance of students in your classes with other appropriate professionals.
Privacy of student records and information is not only expected, it is the law. In fact, “Releasing or disclosing information about a student to a person other than the student or, if the student is a minor, the student’s parent or guardian” is considered professional misconduct in Regulation 437/97 under the Ontario College of Teachers Act.
- Dress appropriately.
What you wear should conform to what is expected by the school administration. If in doubt, ask your Associate Teacher what would be appropriate or dress “up” until you see what the normal pattern of dress is in your school. Business casual is usually a safe bet,
- Don't try to be "one of the kids" or befriend your students — you are the teacher so act like it!
This holds true both for face to face and electronic communication. Remember that teachers are held to a much higher standard of conduct than is general society, and as such, a violation of “professional boundaries” between a teacher and students is a serious matter and could result in discipline by the school board, and possibly the Ontario College of Teachers – it could even mean the end of your career.
- If you are having difficulties with your Associate Teacher and cannot resolve them through professional discussions with him or her, speak directly and privately to your Faculty Advisor or to the Director of Practicum Services.