Halfway Through: Lessons Learned from Student Teaching

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By Dana Berens — As I approach the halfway point of my student teaching experience, I have felt everything from the exhilaration of flying to the stomach dropping pit of falling…hard.

Though I am no expert, the advice I can give to future student teachers at this: everyone tells you how hard student teaching will be, and they are right. While the courses leading up to student teaching are beneficial, they are by no means a good gauge on what being in the classroom everyday, all day, all week, is like.

When you are a guest in the classroom, the students love you. The discipline you offer is soon forgotten; but, when you are there every day, all day, the attitudes and personalities definitely shine brighter.

I feel I have really refined some of my more shaky skills already through my experience. This is where my first piece of advice comes in, it is the hardest, for me, to remember in the most difficult behavior moments but the most important I have learned so far. Students are perceptive and pick up on even the slightest mood change, staying positive is difficult, but holding onto the positives of the day will save you on that day where everything seems to be crashing and burning.

Next, speaking on positive classroom environments, I think finding your true self as a teacher in student teaching is almost impossible. While you find aspects you like about your teaching style, and see things you like and dislike in experienced teachers you work with, it is still their classroom and thus finding your true teacher is difficult. I would say to this, embrace and embed your personal teaching flare with your teachers. It is his or her classroom, clashing would make a place that needs to be positive sour.

In addition, go everywhere with your cooperating teacher. Conferences, meetings, walks to the teacher lounge – they are the best connecting resource you have at the school. The more you walk around with your teacher, the more people you are introduced to and the more you feel like a part of the school, and the more students treat you as such.

Last, always over-plan. It is easier to reel back examples, modeling, and guided practice to give students more time for independent learning; it is hard to add more information to fill a time frame. Sometimes an hour goes fast and sometimes it drags on forever, so to be over-prepared is a saving grace.

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