Ten Tips for Student Teachers

Before the year begins, start your student teaching experience off and running
with the right attitude and right ideas.

If you're working on a degree in Education, Student Teaching is probably something you have been looking forward to, working for and maybe even losing sleep over. Even after 16 years of teaching I still have sleepless, anxiety-ridden August nights tossing and turning ideas and my body all through the night. Guess what? It's normal. It shows you care and you realize how important you job is to yourself and for others.

If this September finds you in the classroom for the first time the best thing to do is, like the Boy Scouts, be prepared. Below you will find ten steps to a successful Student Teaching experience.

1. Call your assigned school in August. Ask if you can come for a visit, especially if your cooperating teacher is there. Most teachers begin to go back to their rooms in August, so my advice is to take time and join them. She / he will appreciate the help.

2. Use the school or college library to go through some instructional magazines: Classmate, Mailbox and Instructor are great. Look specifically for the "Back to school" issues. Get an idea for a start of the year bulletin board. Ask for permission to put up a bulletin board. This shows you are ambitious and eager to help. Teachers like to know that you appreciate their willingness to share their room and that you want to help and be a part of the room.

3. Coming in early can help in other ways. You can get a jump on topics you are responsible for teaching. Find out which books to read, and read these books before you read with the children. Staying one or two steps ahead will give you confidence and allow you to plan, not just survive. If you decide to take this step, make sure you have a copy of the trade book for yourself. Highlight vocabulary words and good comprehension facts to use later on.

4. Review the curriculum. A good cooperating teacher should know what topics you will be responsible for and on or around you starting dates for these lessons. Ask for a teachers editions and workbooks to gather facts and ideas.

5. Prepare a letter introducing yourself to your students and parents. This does not have to be lengthy, but it should include your role in the classroom, educational background, and it should stress your appreciation and availability to students and parents.

6. As the year begins, find out if your co-op is an early morning arriver or after-school dweller. If possible, adjust your schedule to hers. It may sound annoying, but you will both be really busy through the day and a regular, convenient meeting time is very important

7. Set up an observation schedule. It is very important to have an idea of the different approaches used in a classroom. It is not a good idea to mimic the teacher if you are not comfortable with his or her style. By setting up observations before you begin teaching, you allow yourself to see others in action and you give your co-op a break from shadowing her all day. Every one wins with this step.

8. Help to grade papers; offer to run off papers (once you are trained), rotate around the room helping students, especially helpful in math class. Do this by taking the co-op's lead. Ask before you leap.

9. The office is the hub of the school. Stop often to say, "Good Morning!" "Can I deliver anything to Mrs. So-and-so? Be friendly and smile. This will benefit you over and over again. The staff will be rooting for you!

10. Finally, as you gain confidence and classroom experience, invite the Principal to write an observation for you. Working with your co-op and practicing and preparing carefully could land you the job you want.

One more thing: don't forget to send a thank-you card to all involved. People remember acts of courtesy.

I wish you well. Remember to go for the extras:

  • Bulletin boards
  • Availability (Early to work - even 10 minutes or after school)
  • Solid preparation and well-written plans
  • Be helpful (grade papers, run off papers, tutor at recess or lunch)
  • Be friendly, not too loud but approachable.
  • Be appreciative
  • Dress as professionally as your budget allows.
  • Have a great experience and remember to smile!