Ah… student teaching. It’s an interesting time for people entering the education profession. You’re not yet a full-blown teacher, but you’re not a student or just an intern. You’re not getting paid, but you have to be there and it’s just a transitional time in general. I guess… it’s important to realize that this time will pass and that the chance to be allowed to make mistakes and learn will not come back. Below are 8 pieces of advice to help you make the most of your time as a student teacher, based on experience.
1. Observe as much as you can
When you get in your guiding teacher’s classroom, observe for the first week or so to get the lay of the land. Hopefully, you were able to meet with him/her to get a copy of the syllabus and to get a bit acquainted beforehand. Start to memorize the students’ names and build rapport. Once you feel a little bit comfortable with the school, ask if you can observe other teachers’ classes when you have time to. If you can, it would also be useful to attend school events like back to school night, open house, or IEP meetings to familiarize yourself with these kinds of events as well.
2. Ask a TON of questions
Your time as a new student teacher who is allowed to ask random questions won’t last forever. Have a question? Ask somebody. For example, you can ask your guiding teacher about what they do when a student is sleeping. If you got to know the principal, ask about hiring processes. Ask about national board or edTPA. Ask about how they balance everything. Ask, ask, ask 🙂
3. Connect with school staff and the larger community
Counselors, admin, volunteers, and school secretaries are awesome! They’re such a vital part of the school and they’re a great resource for student teachers to learn from. How did they come to work in the school? Do they have any teaching experience? Ask them about their story. Plus, you’re gonna need their help.
4. Get organized
Get a binder at the beginning of the semester. Organize syllabi, school bell schedules, etc. Something you might forget is having the school emergency codes as well! I learned this the hard way because we had an alarm go off while my guiding teacher was away at a field trip. Know where the emergency roster and signs are and familiarize yourself with the procedures. This is a chance to get your life under control before you jump into the thick of things.
5. Practice, practice, practice
Along the lines of #4, we want to practice everything. Practice projecting your voice and practice being the disciplinarian sometimes. Practice making lessons, practice memorizing students’ names, practice communicating with students and parents.
6. Make social media profiles private
Chances are, as the new face at your school, people may ask you about your private life. Keep things as professional as possible by privatizing all of your accounts, communicating with your professional email, dressing professionally, etc.
7. Have a support system
Some days will be longer than others. Make yourself a support system. Maybe it’s a ritual of Sunday brunch with your girlfriends. Maybe it’s a group chat with other student teachers in your program.
8. Reflect often and keep notes for next year
In the back of your student teacher binder, keep a section for notes. I had a section to reflect on each assignment/lesson I gave (what worked, what didn’t, what to do next time). Also, reflect on tips for yourself. Write down all your ideas on how to improve your practice.
Thank you so much for reading!