The Best Advice for Student Teachers
Student teaching is one of the most exciting times in the journey to becoming a teacher. I can still remember waking up my first morning of student teaching and thinking about how I was finally a real teacher! My cooperating teacher was amazing and shared a lot of advice with me during my student teaching. I’ve also hosted several student teachers of my own and I’m here to share some real advice for student teaching that will not only help you while you’re student teaching but will also help you during those first years as a new teacher.
Write everything down
One of the best pieces of advice for student teachers is to write anything and everything down. You will be doing so many things that there is no possible way to remember it all. Get yourself a cute notebook, or create a Google Doc, whatever works for you and just take great notes. Write down things your cooperating teacher does, says, questions she/he asks students. Write down how lessons went, how your feeling during observations, dealing with student behavior, etc. As you think about questions to ask, write those down too. And speaking of that…ask all the questions! Ask why your cooperating teacher did or said something. Now is your chance to get all your questions answered. So ask away!
Take pictures of everything
This goes along with writing everything down. Taking pictures will allow you to remember things when you’re in your own classroom. Take pictures of bulletin boards, student projects, the different way things are organized, different room set up. Don’t just take pictures in the classroom you’re student teaching in. Ask other teachers if you can take pictures of their classrooms too.
Observe as many classrooms as you can
Take your notebook and your phone (to take pictures) and go sit in other classrooms. Observe all different grade levels. The more classrooms you see, the more ideas you’ll get for what you like and what you don’t like. You’ll see different teaching styles, methodologies, and even classroom management styles. Use your planning time to do observations, even if it’s just a walkthrough. Most teachers won’t mind you coming to observe, all you have to do is ask.
Do as much as your cooperating teacher will allow
The best part of being a student teacher is this is the time to learn as much as you can about how things work in the classroom from an experienced teacher. If you are allowed, sit in on parent conferences, IEP meetings, Grade level, faculty, committee meetings, etc. Again, use that notebook and write down things you want to remember when it’s time for you to do this on your own. When I student taught, I had to plan a field trip for the whole grade level. I filled out the request forms and contacted the museum. It was a great learning experience for me! You can also attend after school clubs or programs that are facilitated by teachers. Doing these types of things will give you experience on how to run these when you’re on your own but also give you great talking points when you start interviewing for jobs.
Build relationships with students
The best thing you can do is get to know the students you’ll be working with. Most of the time, before you start taking over the teaching responsibilities, you are observing the class you’ll be in. This is a great time to take notes on what you observe about each student, but also a time to get to know them on a personal level. Talk with them during lunch or play with them at recess. This will help strengthen those relationships, so when it’s time to teach them, you have already formed that bond.
Be firm, be fair, be consistent with classroom management
Since you will be teaching in someone else’s classroom, you will be using whatever classroom management system they use. It may not be what you would want to use, so don’t be afraid to ask for help or if you can try something different. As long as you are firm, fair, and consistent with your expectations, students will do what is expected of them.
Remember this is your time to learn and practice how to be a teacher. Now is the time to try new things when you have the support of another teacher. In the words of the infamous Ms. Frizzle, “Take chances, make mistakes, get messy!”
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