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How To Get The Most Out Of Student Teaching

TeacherVision Advisory Board Member, Jessica, shares advice for student teachers so you can get the most out of this experience and calm your nerves. We also include our favorite resources for new teachers.

Updated: August 5, 2019

Get the most out of student teaching

You’ve completed all the requirements for becoming a teacher, except for student teaching.  When you started college, this looked like such a far away, and maybe at times, unreachable goal.  But, you did it and you’re ready.  Now, you’re feeling all the feelings: scared, excited, happy, nervous, and anxious.  You want to do a good job, and know that in the middle of your student teaching experience, you’ll completely take over teaching your cooperating teacher’s class.

How can you get the most out of this amazing experience?  What should you expect?  Are there ways to learn from the teacher you’re paired up with without looking like a deer in the headlights? 

This blog post will address all of those questions and so much more so you can have the absolute best student teaching experience that will set you up for success as you take on your own classroom in a few short months.

You will find all of our resources for new teachers here. We hope they are helpful as they start your teaching journey. 

Take Lots of Notes

Obviously you won’t be walking around with your head in a notebook or your laptop all day, but you’ll definitely want to take lots of notes.  Even if you jot down things you learned that day at the end of the school day, that will help you tremendously with ideas moving forward.   

Take notes about the way the classroom is set up, any classroom management strategies, assessment ideas, data tracking, lining the class up to leave the room, how to lesson plan, and so much more. 

It’s amazing how much you think you know about teaching going into student teaching, but honestly you’ll learn the most about being a teacher just by getting in there and doing the work. Textbooks can teach you a whole lot as do all of the college classes you took, but when you student teach, you’re able to really apply that knowledge in a real classroom setting.  So, observe everything going on throughout the school day, and don’t forget to write it down in the process. 

Ask All the Questions

You may think that asking your cooperating teacher questions is going to bother him, but honestly, that’s what he’s there for. He would love to answer any question you have along the way, and I promise you, no question is a dumb question (just like you tell your students).  Obviously, you’ll want to wait until plan time, lunch break, or before or after school to ask any questions you have, but when it’s one of those times, ask away. Just like we talked about with taking lots of notes, ask lots of questions.  Then, take notes about the questions you ask too.  

Remember Your Why

Speaking of taking notes, you’ve taken so many notes in college you probably have binders and binders worth of notes.  While you go back through those notes, reflect on your why.  Why did you want to get a degree in teaching in the first place?  

Start with your why and go from there.  Then, on those hard days where you feel like you have no idea what you’re doing, remember your why and keep going anyways.  

Honestly, nothing worthwhile ever comes easy.  The same goes for teaching.  I’m going let you in on a little secret not very many others may tell you teaching is hard!  There will be days, yes even as a student teacher, where you feel like waving the white flag of surrender.  Take a deep breath, remember your why, and then keep moving forward like the teacher rockstar you are. These are our favorite reminders of why we teach. 

Know Your Teaching Philosophy

Remember that teaching philosophy they went over and over and over with you in college?  Yeah, it actually serves a purpose.  You’ll spend the first half of your student teaching experience observing and helping out a little bit. Then, you’ll slowly start to take over teaching responsibilities until you’re the one teaching full time.  

I have yet another secret for you, your cooperating teacher wants you to be you. Yes, it’s true.  He don’t want you to do things exactly like him, because he realizes you’re your own person with your own teaching philosophy.  So, look back at your teaching philosophy and when you take over teaching responsibilities, apply it while you’re teaching the lessons, to your classroom management, and to every other aspect of your school day. 
If you don’t have a teaching philosophy or want to do some revisions, the What’s Your TeacherVision Webinar and workbook will support you with step-by-step instructions for how to write your teaching vision. 

Get Ready the Night Before

At night, lay out your clothes for the next day, make your lunch, set the coffee pot, get your bag ready to go, and make sure your alarm clock is set.  As much as you can prepare the night before, the better.  Not every morning will feel rushed and hectic, but some mornings will.  Give yourself enough time in the morning to prepare your mind for the day ahead without having to rush through little things that could be done the night before. The TeacherVision advisory board shares their best tips and advice in What To Do Sunday To Feel Ready To Teach Monday.

Self Care is Important

Student teaching is exhausting and you’ll want to remember to still take care of yourself.  Remember that self care isn’t selfish.  You can’t pour from an empty cup and will be a much more effective teacher if you’re getting enough rest and taking care of yourself. 

Self care doesn’t just mean eating healthy and exercising (although those things definitely matter too), but it also means giving yourself permission to relax.  Choose one night a week where you watch your favorite Netflix show or go get a pedicure.  Also, don’t forget about spending time with your friends.  Sometimes being able to talk out your feelings is the best.  Not to mention, some of these friends are probably student teaching or are in the teaching field, and you can bounce ideas off of them. You can find our self-care strategies for new teachers here. 

Remember, you’re prepared and ready for this!  You are more than capable of not only being an outstanding student teacher, but also an incredible teacher. 

What are your tips for getting the most out of student teaching? Share with us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+.

Jessica Peresta is passionate about providing other music teachers, especially those right out of college or new to teaching elementary music, with the music education resources, lesson plans, teacher training, and community you've been looking for. She believes your domestic life outside of school should be spent soaking up time with family and friends and your music teacher life while at school should not leave you feeling defeated, but should be a joyful, exciting, and rewarding experience. To find out more about Jessica and her passion, head to www.thedomesticmusician.com.

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