You’ve finally made it to the point where you’re ready to student teach! You’re filled with excitement, anticipation, and ANXIETY about how to prepare. Yes, your teacher preparation program has prepared you for this moment, but you still can’t help but feel like you don’t know what to do the weeks leading up to it. Here’s practical advice on how to frame your thinking to get the most out of your student teaching experience.
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Preparing for student teaching
GETTING TO KNOW THE STUDENTS
- Have a clearly thought-out Day One. That first day is REALLY important. You truly only get one chance to make a good first impression.
- Learn every student’s name by the end of week one, and use their name every time you see them. You aren’t teaching a class, you’re teaching individuals.
- Work on creating a good rapport with your students as fast as possible without trying to be their friend.
- Focus on building relationships
- Be prepared for all of the questions students will ask you – appropriate or not. They’re genuinely curious, and if you’re young, they see you less as a teacher and more as a family member. That’s ok, just draw the line on what you share.
- Let them get to know you without revealing too much. Be real.
GETTING TO KNOW THE STAFF
- Talk to the teachers you will be around. They have been there. Lean on their expertise.
- Be involved in the school – meetings, clubs, school events. This will create a deeper connection with the students.
- Be observant of all teachers, not just your master teacher.
- Introduce yourself to the office and custodial staff, and befriend them IMMEDIATELY. This is actually a good practice every time you start at a new school, but they will save and support you in more ways you can imagine.
- Simplify your classroom expectations, like having only a few rules. Pick some all-encompassing rules that relate to being good human beings rather than “don’t do this” and “don’t do that.” It also makes it easier to enforce.
- Be willing to use the authority you’re given to create a positive learning environment.
- Learn and use your master teacher’s classroom routines and procedures. Figure out how to incorporate your own way of teaching into them.
- In terms of classroom management, follow what the master teacher has already established. You don’t want to create a situation where they say, “Well Mr. White lets us do that.” You also want to take their recommendations on discipline to heart, especially if they have a well-run classroom.
- Classroom management will be the bane of your existence in your first few years of teaching, so try to glean whatever you can. This means record how they handle discipline issues. Ask them for copies of all of their forms. Ask them why they did “that” when they choose a particular consequence. Communicate that you’re not challenging their authority, you just want to know the rationale behind their decisions.
- When it comes to planning definitely ask for help or input
- Try to plan far in advance if possible, but be ready to pivot as necessary. Being flexible will save you a lot of headache and anxiety.
- If you’re a 1:1 school, ALWAYS have paper copies and a plan B if the wifi goes down!!
- If students are just staring at you with blank looks, have them do a quick think-pair-share and ask them to teach what you just discussed, but in their own words
- Accept that not all lessons will be successful.
- Admit when you make a mistake and laugh about it together with the students. Being human goes a long, long way.
YOUR MASTER TEACHER:
- Go in with an open mind when working with your master teacher.
- Even if you don’t agree with what they’re doing, absorb everything because later on in your career you may find that you want to adopt some of their policies and procedures!
- If you don’t like/get along with your guide teacher try to find some common ground and avoid any confrontation just because they are doing us a huge service by helping us and they can also serve as a reference later on
- Keep a journal and take notes.
- Ask for feedback a lot, and when you get the feedback you don’t like, take it as an opportunity to improve
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