Student Teaching Tips
Many thanks to all who participated! We have compiled and excellent variety of student teaching tips, hints, advice, and survival techniques.
The winner is Amy from Wisconsin. You can read the winning submission below, along with many other excellent entries. Amy won a $20 gift card for Target or Applebee's. Congratulations!
What advice would you give to someone who is about to begin student teaching?
Submitted by Amy from Wisconsin, Grade 1-5; Math Support Teacher
As a second year teacher, I am not much of a stranger to the student teaching experience. In my opinion, if you keep the following five points in mind, you will be sure to experience success.
#1 Be Original! Teachers, staff members, and administration will appreciate someone who brings a unique personality to the student teaching experience. Teachers aren't looking for a carbon copy of themselves, so be yourself.
#2 Be Innovative! This is your time to take all that you have learned and apply it to your teaching. Let the knowledge, ideas, and experiences you acquired along the way fuel your teaching. Don't be afraid to experiment. Ask your cooperating teacher to allow you to try that lesson or activity you worked so hard to create.
#3 Collaborate! It is very important to network with all teachers, staff members, and administrators within the school community. The young teachers who go the extra mile to collaborate are the ones remembered down the road for prospective positions.
#4 Be Dedicated! Always show a passion for what you do. Take advantage of opportunities to become involved with activities outside of school if possible. Schools will applaud the efforts of someone who always is willing to give 110%
#5 Have fun! You can do all of the things above, but will be missing out on one of the greatest aspects of the education profession if you forget to have fun. Enjoy the students; they will make you smile every day. Enjoy your colleagues; they are wonderful role models. Enjoy the experience; it is something that you will carry along into your teaching career!
Submitted by Catherine from New Jersey, Primary Teacher
- Let your cooperating teacher know YOUR expectations upfront. Most student teachers feel that they don't have a say in what goes on, but you do.
- Remind him/her (nicely) that you are there to learn a variety of teaching methods and that you are trying to develop your own teaching style not necessarily just take on his/hers.
- Go with your cooperating teacher everywhere! Sit in on parent/teacher conferences and see if it's okay to observe a child study team in action. This is all part of teaching and you should have experience with this also!
- Stay in contact with your professor or adviser on a regular basis. If you only see him/her on days they are there to observe, you will be more nervous.
- Always try your best! I know it's scary to have people constantly observing you but if you are doing your best whether or not they are there it won't be as scary!
- Don't be afraid to integrate some of your own teaching techniques or classroom management skills. Your cooperating teacher might just learn a new technique from you!
- Try to get student input about your lessons. If you aren't sure how your lesson went, ask one or two students what they thought. Sometimes they have wonderful suggestions!
- Always plan too much. Since we don't have much experience organizing lessons according to class time, it's better to have too much planned then to have the students sitting there with nothing to do.
- Be On Time
- Dress Appropriately
- Follow the School Rules
- Befriend the Office Staff (This is especially important if you believe that you will be staying in the area and possibly trying for a job at the school where you are teaching. These people's opinions of you will have an impact on whether or not you are hired. They can also make your time during student teaching much easier to handle. Don't underestimate their worth.)
- Maintain Confidentiality (Remember that if you are taking notes about students or classroom experiences to turn in for grades, you should either not use their names or change them to protect their identities. You never know who you are teaching or what their relationship might be to your instructors and coordinators.)
- Don't Gossip (It might be tempting to hang out in the teacher lounge and indulge in gossip about fellow teachers. However, as a student teacher this would be a very risky choice. You might say something you could regret later. You might find out information that is untrue and clouds your judgement. You might even offend someone without realizing it. Remember, these are teachers you could be working with again some day in the future. )
- Be Professional With Fellow Teachers (Do not interrupt other teachers' classes without an absolutely good reason. When you are speaking with your coordinating teacher or other teachers on campus, treat them with respect. You can learn a lot from these teachers, and they will be much more likely to share with you if they feel that you are genuinely interested in them and their experiences. )
- Don't Wait to the Last Minute to Call in Sick (You will probably get sick at some point during your student teaching and will need stay home for the day. You must remember that the regular teacher will have to take over the class during your absence. If you wait until the last minute to call in, this could leave them in an awkward bind making them look bad to the students. Call as soon as you believe you will not be able to make it to class.)
Submitted by Angela from North Carolina, Second Grade Teacher
After teaching for more that ten years, there are several things that a student teacher should know.
- It is important that you strive to get to know your parents. You should start out by trying to introduce yourself to all the parents by the end of the first week. It can be a simple phone call and be sure to tell the parents something good that the child did that week. This is very important so when you have to call the parent about behavior that is not good,so that the parent will not think that the only time you call is when the child is misbehavior.
- It is also important that you be consistent if whatever behavior plan that you have. If you say that you are going to do it. You must follow through.
- Remember that you are dealing with children and even if you do not feel that you are in control,you need to act like you are.
- Give positive words to the each child and make him/her feel important on a regular basis. Each child is important and is not a mistake or accident. A lot of children have very low self-esteem.
- Even if a child consistently misbehaviors, you must strive to not let the child see how the behavior affects you. This will come with time and practice.
- Take time for yourself. It can be walking, reading a novel or a bubble bath. Remember that tomorrow is another day and that you are making a difference in a child's life.
Submitted by Gail from Massachusetts, Third Grade Teacher
My advice for student teachers is start to prepare for making the transition of being a college student to a student teacher, by purchasing a few clothes to make your wardrobe a little more professional than your college attire. Also, be sure to have a comfortable pair of shoes on hand.
Also, since you will be collecting so many wonderful ideas from the teachers you'll be working with, it may be helpful to have a binder separated by subject to store all of the hand-outs, worksheets, and ideas offered by your cooperating teacher and his/her colleagues. In addition, you may want to have a digital camera on hand to take pictures of work you have done (i.e. bulletin boards), as well as how teachers have set up their classrooms, etc. By the end of your student teaching practicum, you will have an organized resource that will be a valuable tool for when you start first teaching position.
Pace yourself, and keep up with your assignments, so that you'll be able to maintain your social life. Always allow time for making adjustments, especially when preparing to be observed. You never know when the photocopy machine may break down, or the laminator isn't working, so you always want to have a back up plan!
Lastly, enjoy your student teaching experience. Go into school with a smile on your face, and know that you have the greatest job in the world because you can make a difference in child's life, and have fun while doing it!
Submitted by Angie from Louisiana, Third Grade Teacher
As a student teacher, you are very eager and excited to save the world. However, once you enter the classroom and it is just you and the students it can become overwhelming. My best advice to you would be before the first day of school, go and meet some of the veteran teachers at your school. Talk to them about the dynamics of your school. Ask them what has worked well for them over the years. Then use what they tell you and adapt it to your style. Veteran teachers are the best resource that you have. Remember kids are people too, and all they want is someone to love them and guide them. You will be everything they don't have at home while they are with you. If you respect them, they will perform well and respect you. Good Luck!
Submitted by Tammy from Texas, 2nd Grade Teacher and "Toddler Time" Teacher
The most important advice I would share is to empower all (every age group) that you come in contact with. This is done by really listening and not merely hearing what others are sharing. Looking into their eyes when you are listening and talking can make a person feel validated and can even boost their self-esteem. Finally, letting a person keep their dignity when there may be a misunderstanding can speak volumes of your wisdom and self-control. Do this by sharing your thoughts and then listening to theirs. Agree to disagree if no resolution on the particular topic cannot be met. Respect one another and respect yourself enough to let your voice be heard. Knowledge is wonderful and knowing how to communicate with everyone is superb. Best wishes to you as you enter the world of teaching and making a difference in the lives of others.
Submitted by Sherri from Pennsylvania, Second Grade Teacher
- Keep a notebook for each subject and file everything your cooperating teacher is willing to share with you in it.
- Take pictures of bulletin boards and projects to file as well.
- Ask if you can pick up one subject at a time and give back one at a time to ease the transition for both yourself and your students.
- Take constructive criticism constructively and at least try the suggestions. Your cooperating teacher only wants to see you succeed and has been doing this a lot longer than you.
- Finally, enjoy the experience! All the hard work pays off!
Another Submission from Kathy from Kentucky, 4th Grade Teacher
When you begin student teaching take the initiative, don't wait for the teacher to have to tell you step by step what to do. Be an observer of the teacher and try to zero in on things to help them with ahead of time. Help students immediately, this shows you are ready and willing to assume the role of a teacher. Most great teachers jump right in and help, that is how you learn to be a great teacher.
Submitted by Traci from California, 4th Grade Teacher
The TOP TEN Advice List for Student Teachers:
- Work Hard - put in extra hours.
- Make a good first impression - smile and introduce yourself to everyone - especially the school secretaries! Dress appropriately and professionally - you are on one long interview.
- Listen and take notes every day.
- Observe and DO what you are asked to do.
- Ask questions and listen to the answers, use all that knowledge before proceeding!
- Go out to recess and watch the students interact with each other - you'll learn a lot that will help you in the classroom.
- Stay out of teacher lunch room politics and drama!
- Be creative and use good lesson plan formats that will be engaging and fun for the students but include appropriate standards and assessments.
- Be firm but loving with students from the get go - if they know the limits you are then able to have fun and smile and laugh with your students and fellow teachers!
- Stay positive - student teaching isn't forever - soon you will have your own classroom - remember that's the GOAL!
Submitted by Vance from Florida, 9th Grade English Teacher
Keep the kids busy, academically engaged. Learn what bell to bell teaching means. If you don't have anything for the kids to do, they will find something to do and that spells T R O U B L E !
Submitted by Karen from New Jersey
MY ADVICE THAT I HAVE FOR A STUDENT TEACHER IS: Be confident. Even if you don't feel confident, pretend! The students are similar to animals , they can sense your hesitance or fear. Therefore, establish authority at the beginning. Don't let them get away with being rude or disrespectful to you or you will have trouble maintaining control in the classroom later on.
ALSO, Get to know the student's names as soon as possible. Use little tricks like taking pictures or writing down a few names everyday with a few notes about the child, or relate it to their art work. It is true that you learn the best and the most challenging student's names first, but try really hard to learn the rest quickly. I think Knowing names helps keep the classroom in order and keep the students in line. Student's will snap to attention it they hear their name, but if you yell "Hey you stop!" across the classroom, they may choose to ignore it.
Submitted by Fran from Ohio, High School Intervention Specialist
From day one my advice would be: RESPECT! You will receive it as long as you give it in turn- not only to your peers-most importantly to your students no matter how old they may be. Also to their parents.
Keep in mind that you are responsible for what matters the most to them in their lives:their children. College does not "teach" your how to do this-it should be a part of your love for children.
Always look & act professional- dress and act as though you might always run into someone involved with school - you never know who you might run into.
Take time for the little extras- positive reinforcement such as "glad you're on time for class today."
Learn from your peers. You might not always agree with their teaching methods but there might be something that you will be able to relate to and have a better understanding of as time goes on in your career.
Yes, you'll be overwhelmed-who isn't when they begin something new. Keep time for yourself EVERYDAY!!! Even if it's just for a few minutes to do whatever you enjoy doing. This will help to ease the pressure & clear you mind.
Most important, remember that we cannot save all of them-just be there for them on a daily basis and you'll be surprised of the difference you can make in their lives.
Submitted by Deborah from North Carolina, Second Grade Teacher
After teaching for 35 years and loving today more than ever I have found the secret. Keep up. Do not procrastinate. Use every free minute you have at school to do your work at school. Organize your system and your time. Let your goal be to do your work at school and when you leave to go home do not take work with you. Understand now that as a new teacher you will probably not accomplish this for the first three years. During this time period please designate a day or the weekend to have "school free" taking no work home. You will be a better teacher and less likely to burn out if you try this. Believe me!