If you are preparing to embark upon student teaching, you are likely experiencing nervous excitement. This is the pinnacle of your teaching degree program. After countless hours of learning how to be a teacher, this is the moment when you finally get to put your newly gained skills to practice. As with any professional experience, how you approach student teaching can determine its value. You will soon learn that teaching can be full of curveballs, but there are some practices you can establish to enhance the effectiveness of your student teaching experience.
You will likely have to observe other teachers as a requirement of your student teaching. In order to maximize the value of your observations, you should observe teachers who represent diverse content areas, teaching styles, and levels of experience. Even teachers in different content areas may have effective strategies that you can apply in your classroom. Veteran teachers have a wealth of experience, while young teachers have a fresh perspective. Even if you observe ineffective teaching, it is still a great learning experience.
Professionalism is Key
Beyond being a valuable learning experience, student teaching is like an extended interview process. Whether you hope to secure a job at your assigned school or not, the people you work with will serve as references for your first teaching job. As such, it is important to demonstrate professionalism. Make sure that you know the teacher dress code and adhere to it daily. Maintain appropriate relationships with students and enforce the school rules. Last but not least, be intentional about building and using professional communication skills.
Intentionally Learn Classroom Management
Effective classroom management is the foundation of a successful classroom. It is important to go into student teaching seeking opportunities to improve your classroom management skills. When you observe teachers who have excellent classroom management, have a follow-up conversation to learn what strategies they use. If you have an unruly class, reach out to the teachers around you for advice. Furthermore, when you observe ineffective classroom management, take note of practices that are counterproductive.
Utilize Your Mentor
Many teacher preparation programs will assign you a mentor teacher. Use this person as a resource. When you are facing challenges in the classroom, reach out to your mentor teacher for advice. Run your ideas by your mentor and be willing to accept constructive criticism. Ask questions! This may seem simple, but it is the best way to gain information. If you aren’t assigned a solid mentor teacher, identify a strong teacher through your observations and ask if that teacher is willing to mentor you.
Maintain a Growth Mindset
Remember that the point of student teaching is to learn. It will be challenging, and you will make mistakes. You should view your mistakes as opportunities for improvement and always reach out for help when correcting them. Your ultimate goal is to improve. If you can leave student teaching better prepared to brave the classroom, your experience was successful.