Tips for Student Teaching

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It seems like colleges sometimes send us into student teaching ill-prepared and very anxious. So, I put some tips together from my experience at DePaolo Middle School in Southington. I hope that it helps you. If you are an experienced teacher, please feel free to add any extra information as a comment.

  • Connect with students as fast as you can. Learn their names by observing the class with a seating chart in hand the first few days. Volunteer to collect homework so that you can match names in the grade book with faces. Show interest in them- If they are wearing a shirt with a sports team, strike up a conversation about it.
  • Ask your cooperating teacher/team to refer to you as a "teacher" in the room instead of "student teacher." This simple change brings a great level of respect from students and parents.
  • Remember that you don't know the past of these students when you are walking into their world. I had a student who was part of a family hit by a major tradgedy the summer before and publisized greatly in the media. I had to take care in preparing my lessons to be sensitive to his/her needs.
  • Go into student teaching with a plan of how you are going to be organized. Think about how you plan on tracking absense/make-up work as well as what your assessment strategies will be.
  • Make friends with the librarian, secretaries, custodians, and paraprofessionals. You will need them!
  • Ask for a log-in for the school's computer system right away. I didn't and it took a while. Also, ask for an e-mail account because parents and students will want to e-mail you. I did not get one through the school, so I created a separate account on Yahoo just for my student teaching.
  • Always pump energy into your lesson presentation and remember that there will be days when you simply don't have it. (Caffeine is your friend!)
  • This is true: When the cooperating teacher leaves you in the room, it is sincerely a compliment. They trust you and your ability, and they know that their students are in good hands.
  • When correcting papers, use a color of pen that's cool, not red. I used cheap felt-tip pens that were orange, lime green, and purple. Even when corrections were made all over the paper, it wasn't as depressing or "angry" as a paper covered in red ink.
  • Plan ahead- the copier and/or the computer network will always be down when you really need them.
  • Never make plans for your prep period. Something will always come up.
  • Always be aware of the pacing of your overall units. I was responsible for the last unit of my student teaching, and it got cut short because the previous units were all extended a little.
  • Buy candy like Hershey's Kisses to have on hand. They can be used as prizes in friendly competition or a tool in management. I bought Tootsie Rolls because they were on sale, and a number of students could not have them because of braces. Also, be careful of allergies, not just nuts, but others like corn (because corn syrup is in everything).
  • Also buy a stash of thank you cards. I was told to give thank you cards to teachers that allowed me to observe their class.
  • Lastly, be sure that you have a favorite CD in the car for the ride home, especially on those bad days...

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