Student teaching is like a marathon. This special time in a future teacher’s life can seem long and tiring, but exhilarating, fulfilling, and life-changing at the same time. Often, students enter student teaching with their eyes glazed over thinking that they are going to become instant successes in the classroom and change the world overnight. When I completed the experience a couple of years ago, there were times that I didn’t think I would make it through. The following tips helped me keep my sanity intact and walk away having gained valuable experience, true friends, and a lot of stories to share around the water cooler.
Ask For Help
Student teachers might try to pretend that they know it all to appear impressive and professional to others. However, this attitude will most likely land you in trouble. Undoubtedly, at some point, a student teacher will need to reach out to other more experienced teachers for help. Odds are, the copy machine will jam up, a student or students will become uncontrollable, or a lesson that you worked all night on will flop in the classroom. Don’t try to be stoic and handle these issues all by yourself. Most teachers are more than willing to share their experience and wisdom gained from years in the trenches.
Don’t Take On More Than You Can Handle
At most universities, student teachers are encouraged to become active in extra-curricular activities at the school where they will be student teaching. For instance, a student teacher interested in sports may help with the football team or someone majoring in English Education might work on the yearbook staff or the drama team. While these activities are an important aspect to a young teacher’s experience and look good on a resume, a student teacher’s primary focus should reside in the classroom. Participate in these extra-curricular activities sparingly. Only take on what you can reasonably handle without compromising the integrity of your teaching in the classroom.
Pretend You’re on an Extended Interview
Student teachers should think of their experience as being on an extended interview. Many student teachers are hired by their host schools. Even if a student is not hired at his or her host school, he or she will need valuable references on the job hunt. Also, while in the classroom, a student teacher will be evaluated by representatives from the university that he or she attends. Don’t say or do anything that you wouldn’t in an interview. While socializing with other teachers is encouraged, don’t get drawn into the gossip circles in the teacher’s lounge. Putting down other teachers or administration is not a classy move for a student teacher to make and could end up hurting you in the future.
While it probably goes without saying, you should enjoy yourself in this new role in your life. Although you will be stressed, sleep deprived, and irritated at times during the process, don’t forget the reason that you are going through student teaching. If you’re like most teachers, you want to help educate future generations and make the world a better place one student at a time. Don’t lose sight of your goal and know that teaching does get easier with experience. Learn to laugh at your mistakes and take a day for yourself every now and then during student teaching. A day away from schoolwork and the classroom can relieve stress, be refreshing, and may offer you a new perspective.