When you dream about your future career, do you imagine yourself standing in front of a whiteboard in a room full of students? Teaching is a rewarding career, but it has also faced some significant challenges during COVID-19. Undergrads and high school students should get a better idea of what they’ll contend with when it’s time to enter the classroom as a teacher. Make sure you’re ready for these pandemic twists on traditional student teaching experiences before making any big career decisions. Here are the details about what student teaching is really like and how it’s changed during the pandemic.
Connect to your students
Every student enters the classroom looking for a connection. When they trust their teacher and feel accepted, school-related anxieties become less intense. Anyone wondering what to expect while student teaching should look forward to and find ways to connect with students, both in person and online. Virtual classrooms pose a challenge to bonding with your students, but it’s not impossible. Exercises like ice breakers or journaling will build relationships in an online classroom so you get a better sense of how to comfort and teach your students.
Make learning fun
Providing some fun is an integral part of student teaching. Challenging lessons or monotonous reading from textbooks will bore students from grade school all the way to college. A light spirit and entertaining moments are especially crucial during a pandemic. Any instructor can make virtual learning more fun by considering their students’ ages and interests. Younger kids will perk up if you show up in a costume, while college students might enjoy virtual field trips or book clubs. Your approach will depend on who you teach and how much time you spend with your class.
Note learning preferences
You can help keep students engaged and focused by tailoring lessons to their learning preferences. An essential part of student teaching during the pandemic is working with your class so no one struggles to understand lessons because of remote learning roadblocks. Take kinesthetic learners, for example. They absorb information better if they can connect educational lessons with physical experiences, like working through a problem with their hands. Mail coloring pages or craft supplies ahead of the week’s lessons so students have materials that assist their understanding of each assignment. It’s extra steps like these that make you a better teacher, even while you still conduct lessons under supervision.
Create flexible lesson plans
Another aspect of student teaching in college is learning how to make lesson plans. Every school system does it differently, so how you formulate your weekly or semester plans will depend on where you teach. It can be helpful to work with a lesson plan template, whether it’s one your cooperating teacher uses or one you create for what works for you. Still, the pandemic has changed how teachers approach their lessons because the future is much less dependable. Your lesson plans should contain backup ideas and remain flexible. If you need to switch to online learning, in-person classes, or a hybrid mix, you might not get much warning. Consider how you’d switch your lesson plans if or when state and federal regulations require it.
Put your energy into staff relationships
Building relationships with your peers is something you can expect from student teaching. It’s part of any job but especially important when you work in a school. Pay extra attention to these budding relationships during your time as a student teacher. Schedule video chats and phone calls to get to know your mentors. They may vouch for you if you apply to work there full-time after graduation or become valuable sources of recommendation for future job applications. They’re also a deep well of experience to draw from if you have questions or concerns about your role.
Student teaching during the pandemic, and in general, isn’t always easy, but you can learn a lot from it. These tips will help you become a better teacher during and after quarantine. Use them to strengthen your communication and interpersonal skills so you’re the best teacher and colleague you can be when your teaching career begins.
Don’t forget about our COVID-19 student resource page, where you can find all the information and advice you need to navigate school during the pandemic.