April 29, 2012 will be forever fixed in my memory. On that clear, calm Sunday afternoon my flight instructor climbed out of a Cessna 150, said "have a nice flight," and slammed the door. It was at that moment that I realized I was going to be flying solo. I taxied to the hold short line where I began to go through my preflight checklist. The checklist is to ensure that everything is in order prior to departure. After completing the checklist, I taxied onto the runway, smoothly added power and began my first solo flight.
Later that evening I was reflecting on my solo and the emotions that I felt. My mind drifted back to August 19, 1993 and a very similar situation; the door slammed and I realized I was about to solo with my first class. The emotions were similar both days. The fear and overflowing joy made my palms sweat and stomach churn. Instructors and supervisors were gone. It was just me and the task ahead. As I reflected, I realized the only difference in my two solo experiences was the preflight checklist. At that moment I began to ponder my experiences supervising student teachers. Was I doing them a disservice because I had not helped them develop their own preflight checklist?
Supervising student teachers is one aspect of my career that I truly love. It is the best of both worlds because they are students and teachers. They teach not only students, but if allowed, they can teach even the oldest dog new tricks. Student teachers have the tools but they need to be shown how to take those tools and turn out works of beauty and usefulness. Checklists will not make one a good pilot nor will they make a person a good teacher. Sound fundamentals, preparation, adaptability, and a positive attitude will take a person where they want to go. However, the checklist forces the learner to say, yes or no. "Am I ready to depart?" "Am I ready to teach this class?"
Checklists will also give the supervising teacher a rubric to evaluate the student teacher on their preparation for the lesson. Sure the lesson plan can be read, assessments looked over, and lab activities can be double checked. Yet, add in the checklist, the student teacher now has specific areas where improvements or refinements can be made. Remember, the answer to the checklist points can be either yes or no. There is no in between. The plane is either ready for takeoff or not. Would you want to fly on an airplane that is kinda ready!
* Objectives for both the lesson and the day are prepare in SMART (specific-measurableattainable-realistic-timed) format
* Modification are in place so all students can be successful
* Classroom procedures laid out step by step
* Classroom is clean, and comfortable
* Lesson plan is clear, complete, and flexible
* Lesson provides elements of reading and writing
* Assessment is aligned to the objectives
* All materials are out and accessible
* Technology to be used is up and operational
* Enrichment activities are available in case lesson goes faster than anticipated
* Attitude is positive
If planning is complete, how long will this really take? Laminate the checklist on a card, and give it to the student teachers just like the checklist is in my airplane. …