Student teaching is arguably the most important step in a teacher’s professional development. Under the mentorship of an experienced instructor, the student teacher works directly with students, turning educational principles into practical lessons and tactics for the classroom. The following tips will help you make the most of your student teaching experience, finishing with the skills for a successful career:
Keep a clear record of everything that happens in your mentor’s classroom. Take pictures of the bulletin board, seating arrangements, and visuals in the class. Write down in detail the lessons and activities that your mentor does. As you begin to teach on your own, keep a record of all the activities you try, evaluating how well each of them worked. The better you document the classroom, the easier it will be to set up your own class and come up with your own lesson plans as an independent teacher.
Befriend The Faculty
Meet regularly with other teachers, discuss lesson plans and ideas, and ask them for constructive critiques. Not only will this help you to come up with ideas, but the other teachers will let you know if something you are planning will not work or will interfere with their efforts. Make sure to show an interest in what your fellow teachers are doing, demonstrating that you care about their careers and aren’t just interested in bolstering your own. The more friends you have among the existing faculty, the more advice and support you will have to deal with the challenges of teaching.
Persist In Punctuality
It’s not enough to get to school on time. Arriving early each morning, and staying late many evenings, will send a message to your mentor and school administrators that you are committed to your job. It also gives you an opportunity to grade papers, work on lesson plans, and prepare for class in a professional environment. Lastly, if any students need a teacher’s assistance before or after school hours, you will be there to provide it.
Extracurricular activities give you the opportunity to bond with students outside of class, practice teaching tactics in a low-stress environment, and further demonstrate your commitment to the school. Thus, whenever you have the opportunity to get involved in clubs, school events, or other activities outside the classroom, take it. If you have a skill or hobby you think students would be interested in but there isn’t an official activity for it, consider creating your own club. This will show initiative and leave a lasting impact on the school.
Write Down Your Questions
Throughout the student teaching experience, you’re bound to encounter things that confuse you. Whenever you have a question, write it down and make sure to bring it up to your mentor, school administrators or anyone else who could answer it. Not only does this ensure you will have the information you need to teach, but it will show others that you think critically about your job and strive to do better.
Nourish A Professional Network
Student teaching isn’t just about learning how to teach. It’s also a chance to build connections with instructors, administrators and others who can help you get a job once you become a full-fledged teacher. You should thus take advantage of every opportunity you have to expand your network. Go to school board events, attend PTA meetings and participate in educational events throughout your community. The broader your network, the more likely you are to have a job lined up as soon as you finish student teaching.
Resources: http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED506764.pdf; http://www.ncte.org/library/NCTEFiles/Resources/Journals/EJ/1023-jan2013/EJ1023With.pdf