Harvard Educational Review
  1. A Handbook of Techniques and Strategies for Coaching Student Teachers

    By Carol Marra Pelletier

    Boston: Allyn & Bacon, 1995. 271 pp. $34.95 (paper).

    Techniques and Strategies for Coaching Student Teachers is for anyone who works with student teachers, K–12. This might include mentor teachers, college/university supervisors, teacher educators, or staff developers. Though a practical handbook, author Carol Pelletier bases her work on a clearly articulated theoretical base in which the hallmarks of teaching and learning to teach are planning and reflecting. The author's belief in the importance of dialogue is also apparent. This open-ended, user-friendly manual of suggestions and reminders is not a rule book. As Pelletier writes in the Introduction, "The handbook is not designed to maintain the status quo in education, but to have effective practice shared and innovative practice discussed" (p. xxvi).

    Organized chronologically, Techniques and Strategies for Coaching Student Teachers is designed to take the reader from planning for the student teacher's arrival to "Goals for Future Practicum Experiences" (p. 271). Yet each chapter stands on its own, so the reader can pick and choose topics that are most useful. Each of the seventeen chapters in Techniques and Strategies for Coaching Student Teachers is divided into steps that encourage one to Plan, Act, and then Reflect. This consistency is found throughout the book's four sections: Interacting with Your Student Teacher; Information to Share with Your Student Teacher; Culminating the Student Teaching Experience; and the Conclusion, which includes final reflections and goals for future practicum experiences. Pelletier situates her guide at the "beginning of a new era in which the important role cooperating teachers play as on-site teacher educators is recognized and valued" (p. xxi).

    Each of the activities and suggestions mirrors the ideology that Pelletier brings to this work. For example, the "Cooperating Teacher Responsibilities" (p. 10) and "Expectations for the Practicum" (p. 11) worksheets lead to the "Collaborative Goal Setting" (p. 25) dialogue between student and mentor teachers. The college/university supervisor is drawn into the process, and conversation aided by a checklist for expectations and program requirements. Advice to Plan, Act (cooperatively, I would add), and Reflect are woven throughout.

    It is helpful to have so much in one book. In addition to the sections already mentioned, Techniques and Strategies for Coaching Student Teachers also offers the Student Teacher Portfolio Checklist; guided observation suggestions and checklists; long and short lesson plan samples, as well as the merits of each; suggestions for a variety of instructional strategies; and a discussion of discipline styles. Throughout this manual the emphasis is on dialogue about teaching and the student teacher's growth. A strength I didn't anticipate is the book's flexibility. A teacher might use it to improve her practice. A college/university supervisor could appreciate the discussion about guided observations and expectations for those sessions. The teacher educator would probably like having this variety of techniques and strategies in one volume.

    This work "creates a common language for cooperating teachers" (p. xxii), a vital contribution and one that is increasingly being called for in the current debate about reform in teacher preparation. This book establishes a language of conversation among teachers and demonstrates the importance of reflection.

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    Book Notes