10 Tips for Student Teachers

Apparently, June turned into Student Teacher Month here on the blog, so let’s wrap this topic by sharing a few remaining bits of wisdom. These are things I wish I’d know when I was starting my student teaching assignment:

Click here to watch last week’s message to student teachers.

And, as mentioned in the video, below you’ll find links to a few sponge activities that’ll fill extra minutes when a lesson finishes early.

Just Give the Word game:

Word ADDiction game:

Thesaurus Abuse matching game/activity:

Quarter Trios blog post:

Okay, what else do they need to know? Leave a reply below; student teachers present and future will love you for it! Also, should I make an advice video for mentor teachers? Let me know if that’d be a useful topic. Teach on, everyone.

16 thoughts on “10 Tips for Student Teachers

  1. Theresa Simoneaux says:

    Get a blank notebook and reflect/journal EVERY day (trust me on this). Write down the good, the bad, and the ugly. Use this as a brain dump ESPECIALLY if you have no one in your college cohort with whom to decompress.
    I learned what NOT to do in a classroom when I student taught in 1988 (even older than you, Laura). My journal helped me set up systems that actually worked. That journal also reminded me that I can handle pretty much anything thrown at me.
    This fall I start year number 31!

  2. Great advice, Theresa! Intentional reflection is always a good thing. Congrats, too, on finishing 30 YEARS! Impressive!

  3. Be intentional about long term planning with your mentor teacher. At least in my student teaching program, we had a super detailed lesson plan form that we had to fill out for every lesson every day, and it was a killer in terms of time spent. With that much focus on the day-to-day lessons, I definitely neglected the long term, even the closer long term like where we should be in a few weeks.

    Talking to your mentor teacher or other teachers at the school about assessment can be a real gold mine of strategies and concrete examples, too.

  4. Oh yeah, Julie…the reporting paperwork and official lesson plan forms. Ugh. Hopefully, mentors will have pre-filled out templates that can give to their student teachers or the cohort can get together to divide-and-conquer. Thanks for commenting! 🙂

  5. Megan Jones-Schiebel says:

    Ask for any and all advice, and accept any lesson plans, ideas, or activities, even if you think you’re not going to use them. My student teaching placement was horrendous – I mean, there was a point when I thought I would just need to quit – but my mentor teacher was kind to me. She gave me copies of everything she had, and these gave me a starting point when I entered my own classroom. I knew what did not work for me, but I was able to take what I had from my student teaching and hone it to work for the classroom I created. Plus, I found that even though my placement was a nightmare (my cooperating teacher was extremely disorganized but very intelligent and had functioned this way over the course of her 30-year career), the basic pieces of advice that my cooperating teacher gave me remained relevant. Teachers love to teach, so ask questions and open your mind to all that those with experience have to offer!

  6. Agreed, Megan! I always say yes to any offer to share because one “no thanks” for an item I don’t think I’ll use would probably shut down that person from ever offering again. I’d rather keep that line wide open. I’m with you! Thanks for watching.

  7. Kendall Childs says:

    I began my teaching experience as a long-term substitute teacher at a middle school teaching reading. (I was not studying to be a teacher at this time.) The neighborhood was rough, but the staff was great. I almost left and never came back. I left my classroom crying on a Thursday thinking, “People actually come back after this?” However, I went on to get my teaching certificate and almost 30 years later I still love this job. It is more than a job or a career. Look for a great staff. If the staff is helpful, then you have a support system. I ended up working at the high school where I did my formal student teaching. The staff was helpful with procedures and many are still friends. Make friends with the office staff and the custodians.

  8. So true, Kendall! The staff can make or break your teaching career. I love that you were able to surround yourself with such a wonderful community. Wish everyone had that!

  9. I agree with befriending the custodians and the administrative assistants–they are the ones who really run the building!

    One piece of advice from my mentor that resonated with me is to always prepare your desk and lesson plans as if you are going to be absent the next day. This keeps you organized, and there will eventually come a time when you will be unexpectedly absent, but you will be prepared for it. I have seen colleagues in the early morning hours who look as if they rolled out of their deathbeds (in their PJs) scrambling to make copies, clean their desks, and have everything planned and ready so that they can sneak out for their sick day before the kids arrive.

    One point to remember is that student teaching is demanding, but it is such a poignant time in your career. You are going to learn much about yourself: how you handle stress, how you organize, how you manage your time. You are likely going to feel overwhelmed, but you are going to learn how much you can handle. Good luck!

  10. Two great additions to the list, Michelle. Can’t believe I forgot to mention the power of custodians and secretaries to make/break your life. Also, I’ve always been required to have an emergency sub plan folder left in an obvious place on my teacher desk. There’s NO WAY I’m coming to school on the morning I wake up at 4 a.m. with the flu. Nope. Instead, folks should find an evergreen assignment (non-fiction article or podcast link with questions – those work great), make the copies, and leave in the folder. The piece of mind is worth the 20 min. it’ll take you to pull that together. Trust Michelle’s advice!

  11. Great ideas here for student teachers and also for newer teachers (as well as veterans).

    Laura makes an excellent point in the video: there is something invaluable about communicating with parents of students who are exceeding. I remind teachers all the time of the importance of reaching out with a phone call, not only for those struggling or difficult students. I believe there’s not enough positive feedback being shared with parents about their children in the classroom.

    Reading the comments, I agree with Theresa about the value of journaling especially in those first years of teaching when there may be more questions than answers or more uncertainty in one’s approach to teaching. Keeping a diary can be beneficial for newer teachers and can be reflected upon in subsequent years.

    As Laura mentioned, I believe that a video on tips for mentors would be a great addition to this blog. I am thinking about August orientation with teachers and every year, we assign veteran teachers to newer teachers so that they can serve as mentors. Although I have a short handout and we have a discussion about mentoring tips, I would love to use one of Laura’s insightful videos as a supplement to what we already do.

    Thanks for this useful blog,

  12. Thanks so much for watching, commenting, and being part of our community, Marc! I just added the mentor teacher tips video to my summer “to do” list. Look for it in early-to-mid August! 🙂

  13. Thank you! I will share with the Ed. College students that I supervise!

  14. That would be wonderful, spedadvisor! Hope they find the material useful. The comments section here on the blog and over on the YouTube channel are also full of goodness. 🙂

  15. I will check them out. Thanks for all you do to help prepare future teachers. 🙂

  16. Reblogged this and commented:
    “These are things I wish I’d known when I was starting my student teaching assignment…”

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