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Art Education
at Moravian College


 

  Pearls of Wisdom

Updated April 23, 2005

 
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Pearls of Wisdom for Student Teaching


Note: Although student teaching will be about the hardest thing you've ever done, the inventor of the concept should be commended. No matter how good or bad your experience is, it is a necessary bridge that helps to transform a student into becoming an effective teacher. Every hour of the school day brings new experiences that you can hardly prepare for. Read these tips and keep them in the back of your mind. Good luck! I am excited to have the privilege of joining you through this new adventure.


  • Prepare! Prepare! Prepare! Those are the three most important words of student teaching. It is much easier to trouble shoot when there are not thirty little bodies in front of you.

  • Find out how much your cooperating teacher will want you to follow their lesson plan schedule. Every cooperating teacher is different. Some want you to follow their lesson plans and others encourage you to come up with your own ideas. Find this out early to save you a hassle. All plans MUST be written up as demonstrated in 366Z, regardless if they are yours or theirs.

  • Contact your cooperating teacher as soon as possible to see if you can get specifics concerning what units you will be teaching…. And then research, prepare and get ready. Visual examples, “spring boards,” and any additional materials that you can share with the children will add to the success of your lessons. Let me know what your planned units are, because I might have materials for you as well.   

  • Don't expect to have much of a life outside of student teaching. Beginning teachers need almost every waking moment to be prepared for the classroom. Say good-bye to television for a while, say good-bye to late-night chats with friends. You need to prepare and you need sleep. That is all you have time for!

  • Remember, student teaching is preparing you for the work force. Even though you have to pay to student teach, you must treat it like a real job. That means be on time or early every day and plan on staying after the school day is finished. Don't call in sick if possible. (On this note, wash your hands often and get plenty of rest.) Treat others with respect and do your best to get along with everyone. Be very careful what conversations you enter into while you are in the faculty room. You need good recommendations to get a job. Because teaching is such a competitive field, attendance and attitudes can become the factors that separate the employed and the unemployed!

  • Try new ideas. Yes, veteran teachers look at student teachers as idealistic, but since they expect it anyway, why not go ahead and try those ideas you learned in your method classes? They may not work, but you have still learned from them. If it does fail, don't throw it out. It may work with another group of students. Remember, mistakes are OK, we all have experienced them. Grow from them and move on.

  • Do as much as you can to organize yourself before you get in front of the class. Come early…Stay late…PREPARE, PREPARE, PREPARE! Use the “magic box or blue tray idea” for organized handouts and cleanups. Classroom management can make or break a lesson regardless of its artistic merit or strength.

  • It is not true that all veteran teachers are stuck in their old ways. Most teachers I know like the new fresh approaches that student teachers bring in. Don't be shy. Share your ideas. Sell yourself and be confident with all the wonderful knowledge you bring to the placement.

  • By the time I was ready to student teach, I was tired of talking about teaching and was ready to give it my all. Be ready to make mistakes and to admit them. This is a process…remember that.

  • Make copies of everything, not just the units you are teaching, but other units the grade/subject teachers are doing as well. Take lots of pictures. Most teachers take it as a compliment that you want copies of units they have done. Collect as many units from as many teachers as you can. When you get your own teaching position, you have no idea what you will be teaching. The more resources you have, the easier it will be. You don't need to reinvent the wheel. Make use of the numerous web sites we explored in our 366Z class.

  • Get organized! Make sure you are ready for each day. The surest way to have a bad day is to walk into the classroom and not know what you will do. PREPARE, PRE….OK, guess I have driven that idea home enough times.

  • Be ready to think on your feet. Students will take you for more twists and turns to try and throw you for a loop. Try not to be shocked -- and think fast! YOU are the teacher…not their debating opponent. I'm not sure there is a way to prepare yourself for this aspect of teaching. Just know it is coming. Work within a positive discipline approach and be respectful and consistent. SMILE!

  • Have assurance that it does get easier. Student teaching and the first few years of teaching are the most difficult. You heard both Chris and Darla address this issue when they visited. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. We have all been where you are.

  • Know that you will have days when all your idealistic reasons for going into the crazy world of education will be confirmed with a lesson that went well or by a comment a student will offer. Treasure these days. Keep a "Warm Fuzzy File" that has positive memories, letters from students, a good evaluation and anything else that will help cheer you up on a day when things aren't going so well. One of my Moravian students   gave me a “collection box” for this very purpose and it works!

  • Know that the bad days will make you wonder why you ever thought education was a worthwhile profession. Luckily, a bad day is usually followed with a good day. Get out the "Warm Fuzzy File." Remember, a good laugh always helps to break the tension. Mistakes only are bad, if you haven’t learned from them.

  • Write a short one-page paper, or a top ten list, that explains your reasons for going into education in the first place. Keep this paper handy, and as you get into the field, take it out to remind yourself of the reasons you became a teacher.

  • I know that student teaching is enough to think about, but getting your own teaching job should also be a priority. Network with teachers at the school you are assigned to. See if teachers would be willing to write evaluations for your credential files. Have your resume completed before student teaching and remember, a good resume is constantly changing and reinventing itself. Start developing materials to go into your portfolio for interviews. Take lots of pictures of the children working, and their finished pieces. Be sure to include some units (lessons) you did during student teaching. It is a good idea to see if the principal would be willing to do a mock interview with you. This is great practice and who knows; maybe a job will open up. Also, invite him/her into one of your classes to observe your progress and ask if he would write this observation up for your portfolio.

  • Share with your fellow student teachers. You are going to be bombarded with new learning opportunities like never before. By "being in the trenches" you will possibly learn more than you have in all of your college education thus far. If you don't have an outlet for sharing your teaching experiences, you may miss out on finding ways to learn from your trials and tribulations. I suggest having storytelling sessions with other student teachers. (We will be doing this in our seminar together once a week.) You will be busy; however, I can't stress how important it is that you have someone to talk to! Organize a student teacher gab session or stay in contact with each other via email or telephone. YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

  • You do not need to feel that you are alone. All teachers have gone through student teaching. Hang in there! Whether or not you have storytelling sessions, write out your experiences. You will be surprised at how writing out your frustrations and fears can not only calm your soul, but also help you find answers that you didn't know you had. You just need to be still and listen.

P.S.

  • If you get through student teaching and you still like kids, congratulations, you are teacher material!
  • REMEMBER: Enjoy the journey. It really is an adventure to behold and you will make a difference, because you’ve traveled there!