In 2011 the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) did a survey of student teaching programs in the U.S. finding the experience to have a lasting impact on students’ long-term teaching careers. The survey states that, “a uniformly strong student teaching experience has the power to dramatically improve the vision of teaching excellence.”
Here are three tips to making the most out of your student teaching experience from teachers who have been there:
Ask questions and be open to feedback.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. It is good to show confidence in your abilities, but recognize that there is always room to learn and grow. And more than just asking questions, seek out constructive criticism from those around you. First grade teacher Nadeen Brown shares in an article by Scholastic.com, “Don’t let advice and criticism hurt your feelings, use it as a tool to grow professionally. The best teachers are always trying to learn and improve.”
Talk to your cooperating teacher or teaching mentor and ask about what will be expected of you during your student-teaching semester, giving you a baseline later down the road to evaluate your performance and if you feel you are meeting expectations. Beyond that let your teacher know your expectations and goals in return; what you hope to learn and take away from the experience.
Be overly prepared.
Always have a contingency plan. Technology crashes, unexpected events take place, time frame gets misjudged and you finish a lesson earlier than expected – as a training professional you are bound to have a few hiccups like these along the way, as even those who have been teaching for years do. Have a back up plan, bring too many handouts rather than running the risk of too few, and remember, breath.
Bachelor of education students at William Woods University have the opportunity not only to gain experience through student teaching, but are required to take courses beforehand to equip them for their experience within the classroom. Some of these courses include Pre-Student Teaching I, II, and III, where students will participate in classroom observation and instructional participation, as well as keep a journal reflecting on their experience.