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Wisdom for Student Teaching
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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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.
- 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!