Congratulations! You have made it! Your years of preparation have led you to this moment. You’ve completed your coursework, made it through your practicum classes and logged a sufficient number of observation hours. You’ve been matched with a cooperating teacher and a school that are able to provide you with the opportunity to put your training into practice. Welcome to Student Teaching!
As you prepare to transition from your college campus to the classroom, you probably have a sense of nervous excitement building up within you. You’re excited because the end of your college journey is almost here and you finally have the opportunity to do what it is you have set out to do. You’re nervous because you’re venturing into an unknown environment. To assist you with your final preparations and to get you ready for that first day in the classroom, here are a few pieces of friendly advice.
The first time you stand up by yourself in front of a classroom is a scary thing. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. Though it might seem strange, it’s possible that there will be a moment where you get tongue-tied or perhaps even forget what it is you are supposed to be teaching. When those moments of anxiety come, remember that you’ve been preparing to teach for a very long time. Remind yourself that you know your stuff and that you are more than capable of teaching your students. You’ve got this!
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help!
There is a huge difference between the simulated teaching environments that were constructed for you in your college courses and the “real world” of an actual classroom. There will be moments when you will not know how to handle a disruptive student, the best way to talk to concerned parents, or the exactly how to construct a test. Remember that there’s a reason why you have a cooperating teacher. This is your chance to bounce ideas around, vent frustrations, and humbly ask for help when needed. Your cooperating teacher is your best resource and they want nothing more than for you to succeed. Use them!
Communicate Regularly With Your Cooperating Teacher
Once you are “turned loose” in the classroom it can be easy to just take off and run with the day-to-day planning and facilitation of your classes. There is a good possibility that there will be days when you might hardly see your cooperating teacher at all. If this happens, don’t forget to keep them firmly in the loop. Remember, even though you are the one teaching, it’s still their class. Your cooperating teacher is still the one who ultimately answers to the school administration and to concerned or perhaps even confused parents. They cannot defend you if they do not know what’s going on. It’s a good idea to preemptively schedule weekly sit-downs with your cooperating teacher to discuss lesson plans, ideas, concerns, and questions. Take the initiative and set these meetings up if your cooperating teacher has doesn’t.
This is your opportunity to explore! If you have got an idea for a lesson or activity, clear it with your cooperating teacher and go for it. Remember that not everything that you do will meet your expectations but that there is no way to know unless you try. Administrators are always looking for teachers who are finding innovative ways to connect their students with the material. If you discover a great new approach that wows and excites your students, you will have a great selling point when you interview for full-time positions.
Be Open To Criticism
Student Teaching is hard and you will make mistakes. As you move throughout your Student Teaching experience you must allow yourself to be open to constructive criticism from your cooperating teacher, administrators, other teachers, and yes, even parents. As we all know, criticism hurts and is occasionally not easy to handle. In order to grow and become fully prepared for full-time teaching, you must humbly and graciously accept the critiques that come your way and use them to make adjustments and get better. Remember, you are still a student!
Good luck and best wishes for an amazing Student Teaching experience! If you’d like more tips to help you have a great student teaching experience, check out this article. When you finally land that first full-time teaching contract, make sure you check out our 5 Pieces of Advice For First Year Teachers.