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School Leader


Champion Ideas for School Leaders to Welcome Student Teachers to Their School Community

Welcome Kit of Basics

A welcome kit of basics should provide the student teacher with things that will be useful for their field experience and that will help them form collegial relationships with staff and other preservice teachers.

Fill the kit with personal and professional items that will be helpful during their field experience. Keeping the contents and tone of the items light-hearted and fun will help the student teacher to deal with the stresses of having to absorb a lot of information quickly and adapt to an unknown school environment.

Some ideas for items to include in the welcome kit

  • Pens
  • Sticky notes
  • USB key that contains teaching tips and aids
  • “Get out of jail free” cards for such services as help with administrative tasks or lunch supervision
  • Facial tissues
  • Cold medication
  • Healthy snacks
  • School map
  • Water bottle
  • Coffee mug
  • Items bearing the school name or emblem, e.g. a school t-shirt or hoodie
  • List of “go-to peeps” i.e. staff with pictures and assignments whom the student teacher can contact, whose teaching they can observe and whom they can approach for additional resources and advice
  • Mental health tips
  • Free coffee card to a local café
  • List of “top ten things you need to know” about the staff or the school
  • School event calendar with important dates such as teachers’ convention circled in red, as well as any staff social events and vacations highlighted
Connecting Student Teachers with School’s Participating Cooperating Teacher Community

To help make connections, schedule some meet-and-greet meetings before or after school or at lunch time with cooperating teachers and student teachers.

Lipton and Wellman (2018) advise asking “each attendee to bring two things to the meeting, a funny classroom memory and a favourite teaching resource. While sharing snacks and beverages, take the opportunity to share favourite resources as well as memorable experiences.” This exchange provides student teachers with “additional resources, reinforces a collegial school culture and attends to affective needs as well” (Lipton and Wellman 2018). The meetings should be paced so that there is time to discuss practical tips for using resources as well as where/how to locate them.

Record these exchanges for future reference in a journal. Lipton and Wellman suggest that each participant prepare an index card that describes “what I know now that I wish I knew then.” These cards can be used by student teachers to refer back to previous field experiences.

Nifty Networks

Promoting networking is a way to support student teachers by helping them to make connections with other professionals in the school community.

Suggestions for promoting networking

  • Provide a list of “go-to” people: teaching staff, including their photos and assignments, that the student teacher can contact about observing them teach, for coaching or for additional resources, and facilitate a lunch-hour club for meeting and exchanging ideas and information.
  • Identify a “go-to” who is in close proximity and may serve as a substitute cooperating teacher as needed (if cooperating teacher is ill or absent for other reasons).
  • Introduce the preservice teacher to other key individuals in the school community (teacher–librarian/technician, support staff, clerical staff, counsellor, community police liaison officer) and jurisdiction-based resources.
  • Include community-based wraparound services.
  • Use appropriate apps and social media to network with online resources.
  • Ensure student membership in the Alberta Teachers’ Association.