Supervising Teachers

Great Supervising Teachers

 As a student teacher I was really nervous starting my first prac and I know I’m not alone. Walking into an unfamiliar school, staffroom and classroom with a temporary loss of security can be quite daunting. A great supervising teacher can make the experience a lot easier and very enjoyable. So what makes a great supervising teacher?

I surveyed student teachers and found out that they look for someone who;

  • is friendly and welcoming
  • introduces the student to other staff members and the class
  • assures the student if they are nervous
  • provides the student with the lessons/teaching programs he/she would like them to teach in advance
  • suggests and discusses content, teaching and management strategies
  • discusses goals and how they might be achieved
  • shares resources
  • provides a background about the students in the class
  • includes the student in RFF time and planning units of work
  • explains how the roll call book works
  • provides the student with feedback including their strengths and weaknesses
  • is available e.g. communicates via email
  • is committed to the profession
  • has a positive attitude
  • provides constructive criticism – what should we do next time?
  • encourages the student to self reflect after each lesson
  • models effective teaching strategies
  • is up to date on teaching practises
  • allows the student to believe no question is a silly question
  • starts the student with small groups and then builds them up to the whole class
  • provides the student with a photo of the class to learn names
  • allows the student to observe other great colleague teachers you know within the school
  • is organised
  • lets the student know when they are going to be absent
  • lets the student know when they have a duty
  • explains the reward system in place to the student
  • gets the student a chair/place to sit on the first day
  • provides the student with opportunities to gain a variety of teaching and observation experiences
  • gives advice
  • has confidence in the student
  • expresses concerns early and notifies the student
  • encourages the student to be the best teacher they can be

If all supervising teachers followed this list, each student is sure to have a very enjoyable experience.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all the teachers who take on students, it is greatly appreciated.

Are you a great supervising teacher?

Are you thinking of taking on a student teacher?

Are you a student teacher?

Let me know what you think.

Image: Michal Marcol /


22 thoughts on “Great Supervising Teachers

  1. Hi Ashley,

    Thanks for this great post. I have had many student teachers over the past few years and as I’ve only been teaching for 8 years, the memories of being a student teacher are fresh. I always try to be as helpful and welcoming as possible because I know how daunting it is to be a student teacher!

    This list is a great reminder for all teachers about what makes a good supervising teacher. And I hope a lot of teacher read it!

    Interestingly, I think a number of those points apply to what makes a good student teacher! Especially in terms of wanting to discuss things, being available via email outside of hours, being organised and committed etc.’

    Keep up your great work,
    Kathleen Morris


    1. Hi Kathleen,

      I’m really glad to hear you liked the post, it was you who inspired me to write it after all! I think it is great that you remember what it is like to be a student teacher and I think many forget!

      I agree that the list also applies to student teachers, maybe I should write a blog post about what I think makes a great student teacher!

      Thanks again,



      1. @ Ashley,

        Yes! You should write about what makes a good student teacher because they don’t all present equally, believe me!

        Regardless of what skills student teachers have, I just love it when they have initiative, commitment to learning as much as they can, willingness to try things and willingness to reflect.

        A good student teacher can be a fantastic experience for both supervising teacher and students.



  2. Nice list!
    I would also add a few:
    – a great supervising teacher is one who is up to date on teaching practises – he/she isn’t teaching the same way now as 10 years ago.
    – a great supervising teacher is positive
    – a great supervising teacher is trusting and does not remain in the classroom at all times. It is difficult to physically leave your class with a student teacher, so, to do so is a real gift for the student teacher. Student teachers need this autonomy to learn.

    I am sure there are other things as well that make up a great sponsor teacher.

    Best wishes for a successful practicum!
    What grade will you be teaching?


    1. Thank you. They are great additions, I’ll add them now. Especially the teacher being positive! I’ve been with year six so far, not sure where I will be next! I’ll know in a few weeks.


      1. Kathleen,
        I guess it is different here in Canada. Here, yes, the teacher physically leaves the classroom at times – not the entire time. It is actually encouraged so that the students see the student teacher as the teacher. Otherwise, the student s usually look to the sponsor teacher for help, etc… In BC, the student teacher does a practicum where, he/she works up to teaching 80-100% of the time for 6-8 weeks (depending on the program). It’s pretty intense. I’m not sure what it is like in the US.


    2. Oh right! That makes sense then! Ashley and I are both Australian and here you’re not allowed to leave the student teacher unsupervised at all. This is unfortunate for us and them but just the way it is. Thanks for clearing that up!



  3. A thoughtful list Ashley.

    I am very fortunate to have a long term prac student for Term 3 and have emailed her a link to your blog. No doubt she’ll keep me on my toes and remind of many of these things.

    One of the great changes that have taken place over the past few years is the amount of time students get to come into your classroom before they actually start their practice. My student has had 10 orientation days and so a lot of the above has been covered, so when Term 3 starts, the focus can be all all about the teaching.

    One of the things I am trying for the first time is a shared calendar that we can both edit. Hopefully this will ensure I don’t forget anything, like completing my formal assessments on time 😉


    1. I’m glad you liked it and thank you for passing on my blog! I hope she will find it useful. I think it is great that you are taking such an active approach as a supervising teacher. I’m really glad to hear that a lot of the list has been covered already and the shared calendar sounds like a great idea! I’d love to know how it all works out. Good luck!


  4. Hi Ashley,
    interesting post. I wonder if you would like to write an opinion article for the Sydney Morning Herald on what it feels like to walk into your first classroom as a trainee, what the gap is between youy and a trained teacher and how best to travel that ground. Interested? Drop me an email/call or 9282 2701


  5. Wow, long list – definitely thought through!
    I think some of the points should be mandatory as they impact student learning directly (i.e. those referring to explanations of class routine, teaching). Others, that relate to personal attitude (i.e. friendliness, openness etc), can’t be measured or imposed – despite of their importance. The “human” factor is very diverse and you cannot change people (especially those with a “higher” status) – at best, influence them by modeling the type of interaction you expect.


  6. Hi Ashley,
    Great list!

    By far the best feature of a mentor teacher teacher for me is trust, faith and confidence in me.
    Having a teacher be relaxed and even to be doing something else while I take a class really puts me at ease and gives me the confidence to throw myself into the lesson.
    Also a teacher that lets you try new things is great.


    1. Hi Mick,

      Thanks for commenting. I definitely agree that having a relaxed supervising teacher helps a lot! Having the teacher not stare at you and do something else (even if they are pretending) definitely helps with my confidence too.



  7. Hi Ashley
    Last term I took on, for the first time, the role of mentor teacher for a beginning teacher in our school and some of the points raised in your post have also been applicable to that role.
    Even in a small school we’ve found it’s important to run induction meetings, touching on thing that staff know and do, but don’t think to pass on – basically school culture. It’s knowing the little things that can lead to a successful start for someone new in the school, and it’s also too easy for someone new to feel completely overwhelmed.
    Thanks for your thoughtful posts.



    1. Hi Judy,

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. I think it’s great that you have taken on that role! It sounds like your school has a great approach to new staff, I hope most schools work in the same way, and if not, follow in your footsteps soon. I know I would definitely appreciate it when I begin teaching.



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