How to Maximize Your Student Teaching Experience
The moment you’ve been working towards since you began your quest to become a teacher has arrived. Student teaching is more than a requirement to fulfill a degree and certification requirements. It’s your chance to put everything you’ve learned into practice in front of a real class. Making a positive impression is vital, especially since it’s not unheard of for a student teacher to be offered a regular position at his or her placement. Here are some tips to help you stand out while helping you get the most from your experience:
- Share your other talents and skills: All aspiring teachers have interests and abilities that go beyond their teaching specialty. If you played or know a lot about a sport, see if the coach needs an assistant. If you enjoy the arts, a school drama club or art club might benefit from your input. Many schools, especially middle schools and high schools, offer their students a broad range of opportunities for extracurricular enrichment. There’s bound to be a niche for you. Participating in something after or before school can help you become more a part of the school community, show you how to run a club or team, and may have the added advantage of helping you stand out to people who make hiring decisions.
- Observe as many teachers as possible: You’ll most likely be assigned to one cooperating or supervising teacher who oversees your work. The first few days of your placement will possible involve simply observing this person, and regular observations might be part of your requirements. Regardless, it’s a good idea to try and observe many teachers, because this strategy will potentially help you become a better teacher Because teaching is both an art and a science, every educator has a unique approach, and this is the idea time to begin creating yours. Seeing how others approach the process can be an effective way to help you further your ideas about teaching and learning.
- Dress for the part: This may seem superficial, but if you’re transitioning from college, where jeans and t-shirts are the uniform of choice, to a more professional atmosphere, take a long, ruthless look at your closet. Many schools have increasingly accepted a more relaxed dress code, but making casual clothing choices won’t be beneficial. This means no jeans, and no sneakers, unless your subject is physical education. Evaluate your current wardrobe to see if you have an adequate number of classroom-appropriate pieces. If not, make a list of what’s lacking and go shopping. Make sure your footwear is comfortable, as you’ll be on your feet a lot. If you need guidance, Pinterest is a great place to search for ideas for teacher-appropriate outfits.
- Examine your digital footprint: Invest time in reviewing and scrubbing your social media accounts to ensure there’s nothing potentially harmful. If you have even a flicker of doubt about a post or a photo, delete it. Though you should regularly review your privacy settings to make sure only the right people view your pages, it’s still vital to get rid of anything questionable. You should also run your name through Google or your preferred search engine to see what pops up. The content on your social media accounts should reflect the best parts of you, and strategically using them to show your dedication to education. How can you cultivate a digital footprint which will help reflect who you are as a professional? One way is to set up a Twitter account and begin following influential educators and ed policy makers. Share useful content when you find it. You might learn some useful ideas while showing that you know how to use social media as a professional tool.
- Meet the parents: Developing cordial, meaningful relationships with your class parents is important. Even though your time with them is temporary, when you land a permanent position you’ll need to know how to communicate effectively with parents. Student teaching isn’t just about using your skills and knowledge in a real classroom; it’s about engaging in all aspects of a teacher’s life, which includes relationships with parents. Writing a letter introducing yourself to them before you begin your placement is a positive first step.
- Don’t wait for the last moment to update your résumé and ask for references: Your cooperating teacher is the best person to write a letter for you, since he or she will be in the best position to speak about your work. Asking for a reference earlier than you’ll need it will take some pressure off you as you focus on job-searching preparation. And updating your résumé with what you’ve learned from your practicum should also be done in a timely way, because a job opportunity could develop suddenly.
Student teaching can be a memorable experience. It will almost certainly be challenging, and you’ll likely acquire a lot of practical knowledge that you won’t get from a textbook. The lengthy path to becoming a teacher required you to make a substantial investment in yourself, and the above tips should help you further enhance everything you already have to offer to your future students.