What to Expect from Student Teaching
Student teaching is a big step for education majors. It puts you into a real classroom where you'll have to be a real teacher. The first thing to realize is that while you've taken tons of classes as part of your education major, none of them have prepared you for what it's going to be like in a real classroom.
You'll be assigned a supervising teacher who has taught for several years. They will have taken classes in mentoring student teachers and new teachers. Their job is to hold your hand and help you through your first teaching experience.
In the first few days, all you'll have to do is observe. Open your notebook and grab a pencil!
- Learn the names of the students in the class
- Note the things that your supervising teacher does to maintain order in the classroom
- Write down things that you like about this classroom that you'd like to include in your future classroom
- Think of questions you'd like to ask after school
During the first week, you may be asked to help with students who are working in small groups, do some administrative tasks, or tutor a student one-on-one. If it seems your supervisor doesn't know what to do with you, don't fret. She's used to doing it all by herself, so it may take a while for her to get into the mindset of delegating tasks.
By the second week, your supervising teacher will have a better idea of how to fit you into the classroom. You may lead small group work or help run a lesson.
Be sure to have your eyes and ears open constantly. Absorb all the routines and procedures that make the classroom function smoothly. Note the techniques that the teacher uses to diffuse student disruptions and encourage productivity. She knows these students well, so you'll want to use her techniques when you have the reins.
Going into your third week, you'll be taking over small bits of class. You'll present your lesson plans to your supervising teacher and discuss how to improve them.
Then - the moment you've been waiting for! - the students are yours for a while. Your supervising teacher will watch and take notes. Just ignore her and focus on the task at hand. Teach your lesson as best as you can. It probably won't go according to plan, but that's okay. This is a learning experience.
After school, you'll be able to speak with your supervising teacher. You can share all your thoughts about the lesson you taught and hear their feedback. It may hurt a bit to hear criticism, but remember that it's all in the name of making you the best teacher you can be.
After about a month of teaching the occasional lesson, you'll be almost ready to take over the class full time. You'll have an idea of how much to plan to fill a class period and know how to manage the students. Your supervising teacher will still be there to help you, but for the most part, they'll be sitting and observing you.
The most important thing to remember is to maintain the classroom procedures and routines set by the teacher. It may be tempting to make something “better,” but now is not the time. Make a note of it and you'll be ready to test it out when you have your own classroom. You can also ask your supervising teacher about your ideas - she may have tried them and have a good reason why she does things the way she does.
As you get your legs and have your own classroom, you may be overwhelmed or frustrated. Take a deep breath. Talk to your supervising teacher and seek out new teachers at your school to talk to them about their tips and tricks for success. Teaching is a challenging career and you won't be able to pick it up right away. Student teaching is just another step in the process of learning about your new career.
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