At the end of every education major’s journey toward certification is student teaching—and it will be one of the most exhilarating and nerve-wrecking parts of your college career.
All of your education courses prepare you for this final step. But as exciting as student teaching is, it also leaves you with many worries and questions as you prepare. However, there are many steps you can take to ease the transition from student to student teacher.
1. Get to know your cooperating teacher
Whether you find your teacher yourself or your college does this for you, it is important to get to know your cooperating teacher before you begin. As soon as you are given your assignment, reach out to them either through e-mail or phone and arrange a time to meet. This will not only make you look professional, but it will ease your nerves for the first day. When you meet ask if there is anything you can do to prepare and get to know some of the basic classroom practices and materials. Then, once you start, ask questions! That’s how you’ll learn.
2. Get to know your school too—well in advance
You should know your school and district’s website like the back of your hand way before your first day as a student teacher. What kind of population attends the school? What resources are available? Who’s the principal and what is he or she like? Who are the special teachers (art, music, physical education, etc.)? What are the school hours? Sometimes you can even find more information about your teacher and classroom on the school website.
3. Go shopping
Professional attire is a must. You should stock up on dress pants, appropriate shirts and blouses, and comfortable shoes. Ladies should be covered from the collarbone down. Also, get a travel coffee cup and a lunch box.
4. Start liking coffee
You’re going to be quite tired. The student teaching schedule is very different from your college schedule. Extra caffeine will give you the extra push you need to get through your day and keep your enthusiasm up while teaching.
5. Find a lesson plan template that works for you
Sometimes your school or cooperating teacher will already have a lesson plan template they use. Other times it’ll be all up to you. It’s best to be comfortable with a template that works best for you!
6. Be open
Be open to new ideas, criticisms, change, cooperation, student differences . . . anything you may encounter while student teaching. It’ll all help you grow and become a better teacher out in the real world.
7. Remember why you’re there
You’re there to learn and to help your students learn. No matter how stressed you get, don’t lose sight of that.
8. Be professional
Professionalism covers many things. One of the best ways to be a professional is to be on time, and “on time” means 15 minutes early! Always use professional language and dress and never badmouth students or other teachers. Treat every day like an interview. (If you’re hoping to work at that school in the future, every day practically is an interview.)
9. Don’t be nervous
Everyone understands you’re still learning. The other faculty members have been in your shoes before and are there to help you. Don’t be afraid to ask if you don’t know something.
10. Have fun!
As scary as this all can seem, it is supposed to be (and more often than not is) really fun! Enjoy your time and find the good in each day and each student!