Student teaching is an important first step in the quest to become a teacher. While there is no uniform way to prepare for student teaching, there are several things student teachers can do to make sure that they are prepared for their first days in the classroom.
- Meet with the Classroom Teacher
One of the most important steps a student teacher can take in their preparation is meeting with the teacher for the classroom to which they’ve been assigned. Different teachers will have different expectations for their student teachers based on their own goals for the classroom and the student teacher’s goals for their apprenticeship. Each party should clearly and thoroughly communicate their expectations and objectives for the coming weeks so that everyone is on the same page when they enter the classroom.
- Consider Personal Strengths and Weaknesses
Student teaching is as much about showcasing strengths as it is about strengthening weaknesses. Student teaching offers the unique experience of witnessing someone else’s teaching style. While practice is essential, it can often be more illuminating to watch someone else in action. Additionally, student teaching is the perfect opportunity to showcase originality. The enthusiasm of student teachers is often unmatched in school settings. Student teachers should take that energy and enthusiasm to create unique and fun lesson plans while they have a pair of eyes there to assess problem areas and pinpoint areas for improvement. A failed activity can be incredibly painful for new teachers, but having a veteran teacher available can prevent the failed activity from spiraling into a failed class period.
- Expect to Ask Questions
When doing anything for the first time, it is incredibly important to be comfortable asking questions. One of the benefits of student teaching is having access to an experienced teacher who can answer questions about the reality of teaching life. In order for the transition to be as smooth as possible, it is important for the student teacher to have a clear understanding of their objectives and the reality of the classroom they will be entering. In order to avoid surprises, it is important to ask whatever questions are needed before student teaching begins, to avoid any moments of being put on the spot once the students are present.
- Do Age-Appropriate Research Before Entering the Classroom
Before walking into the classroom, student teachers should consider doing research about the age group of the students they will be teaching. In addition to familiarizing themselves with appropriate course work and objectives, they might also consider exploring some of the literature and entertainment that might be popular with that particular age group. This can seem superfluous, but it does help to have some understanding of the type of media the students are engaging in, and which stage in their psychological development they’re at.
- Plan Age-Appropriate Incentives and Punishments
Keeping a classroom in order is very different depending on what age group is being taught, but it is important for student teachers to have some idea of the various ways they might regain control of an unruly classroom. While it can be helpful to discuss this with the mentor teacher, what works for them might not always work for the student teacher.
Preparing for the first instance of student teaching can be an exciting and often overwhelming task. While this list is not inclusive, it offers several suggestions for getting the most out of student teaching.