Student teaching is an important part of your journey to becoming a teacher. It can also be a highly stressful time. In addition to managing classroom responsibilities (and managing sometimes unruly students), you will also be balancing coursework in your teacher preparation program with the demands of your personal life – all while applying new principles and theories for the first time.
Scared of student teaching? Don’t sweat it. Just follow these tips for student teaching success.
Before the First Day of Student Teaching
Touch-base with your cooperating teacher. Get in contact with your cooperating teacher before the first day to ask them questions about the classroom and their teaching procedures. What are their goals for the semester? What are their grading procedures? Do they use a specific lesson planning format? How do they communicate with parents? What are their expectations of you? Understanding the challenges of your classroom, as well as available resources, beforehand will help set you up for success down the road.
Learn the rules of your school and individual classroom. To be successful as a student teacher, you’ll need to understand the ground rules for your school, as well as those set down by the teacher you’ll be paired with. What behavior management techniques does your teacher use? What are the consequences for bad behavior? Understanding how your school administration and cooperating teacher deal with situations will help you provide continuity in classroom management.
Come prepared on your first day. It might seem like a small thing, but planning ahead will imbue you with more confidence on the first day. Wear comfortable clothing and footwear – you’ll probably be on your feet most of the day. Bring whatever school supplies you need, such as pens and papers. And don’t forget to pack a lunch! Emergency supplies such as hand sanitizer, Band-Aids, personal hygiene products, and stain removing pens or wipes can also come in handy.
During the Student Teaching Experience
Act with authority. If you don’t, your students will never respect you. Deliver your lesson plans with confidence, and don’t second-guess yourself.
Dress professionally. How you present yourself says a lot about how you view yourself and how you want to be treated. Professional dress is especially important in environments where you will be teaching older students, such as middle or high schools.
Get to know your students. Students perform better in a safe environment. If they feel respected and cared for, chances are they will treat you better as a teacher – and learn better, too. Address your students by name. Ask them about their personal interests and hobbies. Communicating with your students can also be a huge step in understanding behavioral problems in the classroom and why certain students might be acting out.
Set boundaries. It’s good to make a personal connection – but don’t let it go too far. This is especially important to remember with older students. It may seem like a no-brainer, but avoid things such as student gossip or accepting friend requests from current students.
Collaborate with your teacher. This one goes without saying. You are here to learn from them. Set aside time when possible to review lesson plans, ask questions, and get feedback. If you are experiencing issues with classroom management, don’t hesitate to bring it up. Your cooperating teacher has likely had the same experiences before and can guide you through the situation.
Final Note: Remember to be gracious with yourself. You are going to make mistakes. Learn what you need to from your mistakes, and move on. Failure is a part of learning – and sometimes the best way to learn. If practice makes perfect, you are only beginning to practice!
Learn More with Student Teaching at Alliant
Student teaching is an important step in your development as a teacher. At Alliant International University, it’s also one pathway toward earning a preliminary teaching credential in California. Under the Student Teaching option, students will participate in 45 hours of classroom observation and 16 weeks of student teaching in at least two grade levels.
At Alliant, we provide you with the resources for success. In addition to working under the guidance of a master teacher, during your student teaching placement with Alliant you will also receive export mentorship and support from an Alliant supervisor. At Alliant, we’ve prepared hundreds of California teachers for an effective and rewarding career. Let us help you become the next!