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This week, I got an email from someone who is just about to start student teaching. Feeling anxious about the semester ahead, she asked if I had any advice.

I’m going to share my own thoughts here, but I would like it if this could be one of my crowdsourcing posts, where we pull together all the collective wisdom of my incredibly smart, insightful readers (like the times you advised parents on skipping kindergarten and having your child take extra math courses). So after I share my ideas, I would love for everyone else to use the comments below to give all beginning teachers advice on how to make the most of the student teaching experience.

Okay. I’ll go first:

1. Ask All the Questions

Unless you’re very extroverted, you might hold back on asking questions. Maybe you don’t want to bother anyone or you don’t want to look stupid.

Try really hard to get over that. You need to be asking lots of questions this term: Questions about classroom procedures, grading, and technology. Questions about how your host teachers handle tricky situations, how they manage to steal bathroom breaks, and how they determine whether an 89% is an A or a B. If you don’t ask, you’re not going to learn.

If you feel like you’re taking up a lot of your host teacher’s time, keep a list of questions as you think of them, then ask several at once. Or ask different people different questions, so you’re not “bothering” the same people all the time. Seriously, though, it’s really not a bother. Most experienced professionals love sharing their expertise, so ask away.

2. Get a Buddy

When I did my student teaching at Penn State, my friend Dan had also been assigned to the same school. Everyone in my program had been placed in schools all over Pennsylvania, so we were pretty isolated, and it was a huge blessing to have Dan around. We didn’t have much chance to talk during the school day, but about once a week we would have dinner and talk about things that were going well and things that weren’t. We asked each other the stupid questions we were afraid to ask anyone else. And we gossiped like crazy. It was a great stress reliever, and it really helped to have another “outsider” to talk to.

If you don’t have another student teacher in your building to share the experience with, find someone else in your program and set up some kind of regular check-in. If that’s not an option, look around online for a community. Find someone who gets you, someone who has a similar amount of pressure on them, and schedule time to hang out. You’ll be glad you did.

3. Observe Like Crazy

The best way to learn what good teaching looks like, and what not-so-good teaching looks like, is to observe LOTS of teachers. Chances are your program is going to require you to do a certain number of these; my advice is to triple that number. Use your planning period to sit in the back of someone else’s classroom; grade papers if you need to multitask. You’ll still pick up plenty of instructional techniques and tweaks, bits of presentation flair, and classroom management strategies. You’ll get cool ideas for organizing materials, establishing good procedures, and even decorating a classroom.

Although it’s vital to observe teachers in the same content areas and grade levels as yours, observing outside these parameters will also be hugely informative, so seek out teachers who teach something different from you. And don’t limit your observations to classroom instruction: Sit in while a colleague makes a parent phone call (those are tough, and there’s an art to it). Attend an IEP meeting if you are allowed. Watch a colleague coach a sports team or run a club meeting.

How do you ask for these observations? Just tell the teacher in question that you want to observe in as many classrooms as possible, then ask if you can stop by 5th period. Simple as that. They will almost always say yes.

4. Network

Just like substitute teaching, student teaching is an excellent opportunity to get to know lots of people in your field, which can eventually lead to securing a full-time position. Schools are much more likely to hire someone whose work they are familiar with, so make sure people get to know you during your student teaching semester. This means going to the social events, introducing yourself to people you don’t know, eating lunch in the staff room (at least sometimes) and putting your hand up when volunteers are needed to sell tickets at the basketball game. Every person you meet is a potential connection for later employment, so make lots of connections now.

5. Put Together a Professional Wardrobe

This is an area that a lot of student teachers get wrong. In general, when dressing for school, your clothes should be a little more conservative and a little more dressed up than what you usually wear. If you are young (in your early twenties) and are teaching students who are older (i.e., high school) this is especially important because you need to look different from your students. Before school even starts, learn your host school’s dress code for teachers and follow it, keeping in mind that some of the other teachers in your school may not necessarily do so. Never mind that: You don’t have the seniority to thumb your nose at any dress code. Follow it. And for those gray areas, if you have even a tiny doubt about something you’re wearing (Is this too low-cut? Too tight? Would this t-shirt offend anyone?), don’t wear it.

For inspiration, women should start by searching for Teacher Fashion on Pinterest, then check out The Styled Teacher‘s blog, where you can find tons of photos of ensembles that are beautiful AND appropriate for the classroom. For men, Pinterest also has a lot of great ideas for male teacher fashion, and check out this article on building a male teacher’s wardrobe from Real Men Real Style.

6. Clean Up Your Social Media

If you haven’t already done so, you need to SCRUB every one of your social media accounts until they sparkle. Untag yourself from incriminating photos, delete any posts that might be considered controversial, un-like any pages that might cause administrators, parents, or students to make unflattering assumptions about you. Switch public settings to private when it is reasonable to do so. Basically, look at your online footprint through the eyes of an administrator who is thinking about hiring you, and remove anything they might object to. You are about to begin the phase of your life when you are no longer just a private citizen; part of you is now somewhat public-facing, so your online presence needs to be professional.

If you think your students are going to want to connect with you on social media, go ahead and set up a “teacher” account right now (e.g., Mrs. G’s Instagram Account), where you will refrain from posting your real-real-life stuff, and send students there.

7. Take Small Bites

Remember: This is just practice. You are not expected to be able to know everything and do everything, and you’re certainly not expected to do it all well. So when you start to feel overwhelmed by all the things you’re supposed to be learning and all the other things you could be trying, just remind yourself to take small bites right now. Good teachers spend their whole careers trying to get it right, and some of the very best will tell you they still have a lot to learn, so cut yourself some slack.

8. Keep a “Next Year” Notebook

It’s human nature to think you’re going to remember all the ideas you come up with this semester, all the lessons you learn, all the things you want to do differently next time around. I’m here to tell you that you won’t remember half of them if you don’t write them down.

9. Find Your Marigold

If you’ve never read my article about teachers and marigolds, go read it now. I’ll wait.

Okay, that applies to student teachers too. To really have a wonderful student teaching experience, you need to find one person in the building who embodies everything you want to be in a teacher, then spend as much time with them as you can. If you’re very lucky, this could be the person who has been assigned to be your host teacher. If it’s not, go find them. It will make all the difference in the world.

More Advice to Come…

Okay, I’m done for now. I hope this has been helpful. Now I want to hear from the rest of my readers. In the comments below, share your advice for student teachers. Let’s usher in the next batch of newbies with gusto. ♥

 

The New Teacher Checklist
If you’re a new teacher, the Cult of Pedagogy New Teacher Checklist will provide a structure to follow as you progress through the school year. To download a free copy, just sign up for my mailing list. You’ll get the checklist, access to my Members-Only Library of free downloadable resources, plus weekly e-mails with tips, tools, and inspiration to help you make your teaching better every day. If you are already a subscriber and want this resource, just check your most recent email for a link to the Members-Only Library—it’s in there!

 

 

68 Comments

  1. Adam says:

    This is SO awesome, Jennifer! Student teaching is coming up next year for me, and this blog is so valuable. Thank you!

  2. Elena Hershey says:

    Keep a record of everything you do outside the classroom: e.g. assisting on field trips, working with students after school, covering another teacher’s study hall in an emergency, snapping photos for the yearbook, taking notes for team meetings, devising solutions for your mentor teacher, introducing other teachers to new technology, etc. (Almost) everything you do can be included in some way on your resume and/or used to show your versatility in a job interview.

    • That is fantastic advice, Elena! Thank you!

    • Great advice! I would add: request your recommendations ASAP in the spring semester. Between completing an EdTPA (or whatever your state requires) and the general chaos of daily teaching, many in my cohort started asking for recs way too late, missing out on some truly amazing teaching opportunities because they just couldn’t apply without them.

  3. Mandy Froehlich says:

    I would add to not only scrub your social media accounts and network in your school and community, but also work on creating a positive digital footprint and network using social media outlets like Twitter. That way when employers look for you, they not only don’t see the bad but will see the awesome things you do and how you reach out and connect. You’ll also get the best PD from connecting with colleagues on Twitter. Finally, start blogging.

    • Wow, Mandy. SUCH good advice!! I do think blogging is certainly a way to establish a positive digital footprint. If a student teacher is strapped for time, though, there are probably other, less time-consuming ways to accomplish the same thing: Participate in Twitter chats or Google Plus communities, or even set up a very simple website or online digital portfolio with static pages that tells people who you are, what your philosophy of education is, your favorite books, etc. Something that can easily be found if a prospective employer Googles you!!

  4. Mandy Froehlich says:

    By the way, great post, Jennifer 🙂

  5. For me, the observation piece was really powerful and I’m so glad you included it in this list.

    As a student teacher, you will never again have the opportunity to see a wide range of other teacher’s styles in a way that is authentic (read: not like when an administrator or colleague is in the room). Watch as many great teachers as you can, both in and out of your discipline. I got so many great ideas just from sitting in a single class–and it wasn’t my subject area! Once you have a classroom of your own, you will be extremely limited with observing others. Do it now while you can!

  6. Ginger Travis says:

    Write down everything…good and bad! Journal, journal, journal.journal your observations, thoughts, feelings and ideas. What will you do the same as your cooperating teacher, what will you do differently. What observations do you take from other teachers and the administrators. This will give you a clear perspective of what you want to do and don’t want to do in your classroom. And, if you are in a state that requires an internship, like Kentucky, you will already be in a practice of observing, acting and reflecting that is required for most internship programs. Further, when you journal, you can go back and see what you felt about a certain situation or strategy at its inception.

    I often look back at my “student teacher journal” and gain many insights that I use in my classroom six years later.

  7. Brianna says:

    Embody growth mindset! Be willing to fail and take those as awesome opportunities to learn. Step out of your comfort zone. Try new things when you have your host teacher there to observe and give you advice.

  8. Lucy says:

    Go to the staffroom and listen, chances are that girl who is being disruptive in your class is doing it elsewhere. Knowing it’s not just you makes situations easier to deal with. Make friends and ask those friends for advise when the going gets tough. Oh and take your own mug! Nothing worse than finding you are using the head teachers mug on the first day and they can’t get their coffee!

  9. Amanda says:

    I think this is a great list. You really do want to take note of litetally everything. I just completed my student teaching last year and will be hopefully teaching my first class this year (interviewing today). One thing I would add is really learn to prepare your materials. Our school has giant ancient copiers and they love to jam every time I so much as look at them. So learn to use them and unjamm them, because they didn’t teach that in college.

    • Debbie says:

      Oh my gosh, yes!! If I charged a fee for everytime I “fixed” the copier/printer… after 30 years I could retire- to my own island! LOL
      This list is awesome, as are the comments so far. If you don’t get to observe the beginning or end of a school year, ask everyone you can what they do to start the year, or end it!! Two other things they never taught in teacher college…teaching procedures [ALL of them!], setting up seating charts, meeting families; keeping their attention at the end, closing a classroom, etc.

  10. Great advice! I’ve had both traditional and non-traditional student teachers and I’m always encouraging them to use our “resources” – attend after school voluntary PD sessions, PLCs, and work with our literacy coach when developing lessons.

    • Love this tip, Meagan. Spending time with the specialists in the building is an excellent idea, and I’m sure many student teachers would never even think of that!

  11. Jessica says:

    Love the advice! I’m currently student teaching now, so I really appreciate all this information. The part about finding your marigold especially spoke volumes to me.

    I’d like to share the tool I’m using to document my observations and best practices; it’s called Day One. This app is great because it documents my journey as a student teacher like a journal, and allows me to add photos. Another thing I like about it is that I can export my journal and turn it into a PDF. I’m thinking of using it for my portfolio because it’s so beautifully designed and looks professional.

  12. Ami says:

    This is such great advice! I would add one more thing — Don’t be afraid to try out new ideas! I’ve been a cooperating teacher, and I would love it when student teachers would try out ideas they learned in their teacher prep classes. It made me super excited for them, and sometimes I learned something new.

  13. Jonathan says:

    This is a great list, Jennifer. I think the number one thing is never being afraid of asking questions. I would also add that love every student and get to know them well. It is hard as a student teacher to come into a strange class and instantly earn the respect of the students. In fact, it is near, impossible. What will help is if you get to know your students and know them well. When the know you care they won’t act out as much. Hope you don’t mind me sharing this list with my future student teachers.

  14. Gina says:

    Get a reading list going. What have the teachers whose work you admire read that’s made a difference in their professional lives? In the same vein, get recommendations for good professional development programs. Be in the habit of attending conferences and workshops — NCTE (the National Council of Teachers of English) has student rates and I am willing to bet other professional groups do, too.

    Get out on social media and follow the teachers and organizations that you see making a positive difference. There are regularly scheduled Twitter chats, Nings, and blogs that are awesome ways to network and get resources and support.

    Carve out time and space for self-care. Teaching can be an all-consuming career and you can burn yourself out. Eat healthy, exercise regularly, and spend time with family and friends. You can’t be an effective teacher if you’re strung out.

    And know that we are rooting for you! Find those marigolds.

  15. Kate says:

    This is such a great starting point for student teachers (and partner teachers!). I would add a few more – find out how really organized teachers organize their resources, documentation and time. Then try out what works for you. If you don’t make a strong connection with your partner teacher, develop a relationship with a mentor (maybe in a different school). Don’t judge – many student teachers are not aware of the district, state/provincial, administrative complexities that shape their decisions. Pick a student you consider a challenge and do your best to connect, understand and support them. You will probably learn the most from that relationship.

  16. Tia says:

    Be positive. Be present. Be visible.
    Practice building relationships with students and be on the look out for classroom routines that will work for you. Relationships and routines foundation ally help new teachers to build confidence and ease with all the rest of the job.

  17. Thanks so much for this site and the list. As a host teacher, my suggestion would be to share your learning, too. I choose to host student teachers in my classroom because I am a lifelong learner. Today’s new teachers are often more tech-savvy, which is a huge plus, especially in today’s digital classroom. In terms of your digital footprint, check out the footprints that other educators are leaving out there. Find blogs and websites that work for educators, parents and students and try building your own website shell with all of the ideas you are gathering. The advice to get on Twitter and other social media as an educator is excellent. I graduated as a teacher in 1989. I found this blog today. I’m still as excited about education as I was 27 years ago, because of innovations such as this. Networking works.

  18. Melody Moeller says:

    Talk to the para educators in the building. They have seen a lot of the teachers and they can guide you on who is great at what. Observe special education teachers and co-teachers. Ask your host teacher how to modify, accommodate, and see if they will let you create a test and modify it, or at least modify an existing test. Talk to the ELL teacher if you have one, observe if possible.

  19. Dennis Jenkins says:

    Great tips. A mentor-coach would also be a great help as one embarks on a new career!

  20. Danielle says:

    I completed my student teaching this past Spring. What an experience!! I had to do both general education and special education to fulfill the requirements for my certification. Both placements were completely different. The best thing to remember is even though you are there as a “teacher” you are still a guest in the classroom. Go with the flow and at times keep your mouth closed. After all, you will be leaving, there will be an end to the time spent there. One placement I didn’t want to leave and the other I was counting the days. But even in the placement where it wasn’t so great I still learned a lot. I learned what I did NOT want to do. It will be a good reminder later in my own classroom to remain positive and to focus completely on the students. Another reason to keep your mouth closed is you will hear a lot of school politics. Just sit back and listen, do not get involved. It could lead to downfall. Most of all, ENJOY the time you have. It seems like forever, then it is over in a blink of the eye. Make connections to the students and you will have a wonderful time!

  21. Nancy De Leon says:

    I would add to all the great advice giving to new teachers, “Be polite and courteous with everyone !” It leaves a wonderful impression when you are well mannered. Wishing all new teachers a successful year!

  22. Chris says:

    One of the best pieces advice I can give a student teacher or a new teacher is that do not be afraid to make a mistake. I know that you are trying to not only impress your cooperating/mentor teacher, the other teachers, the administration, the parents, and the students. That’s a lot of eyes on you and you may feel like if you mess up just once, even slightly, it is over and everyone has lost faith in you and your ability. That is simply not true. We all make mistakes from novices to veterans. It is ok to be wrong. It is ok to screw up. Granted it isn’t pleasurable to be either of those things, and if all of us had our way, we’d never be wrong or make a mistake. However, that just isn’t realistic. The lessons that stick, are the lessons where you screwed up. That’s how it is. Everything I know, and I’m good at, I had to learn. I learned a lot by screwing up, and fixing it. It is embarrassing. It is not a pleasant feeling, but it is reality. If you make a mistake, learn from it, make adjustments, and don’t beat yourself up about it which solves nothing. As you gain experience your choices and decisions will more and more start to be the right ones. My father told me the great thing about the next day is that it is a new day. So you made a mistake teaching the lesson for the students the previous day. Go in and explain to your students what happened and fix it. Your students will gain a lot of respect for you when you admit this and they will learn it is ok to make mistakes too (I call that a twofer). I am entering my 10th year in education and 2nd year as an assistant principal. I am still learning everyday, but I have learned to not let the fear of screwing up hold me back from helping students, teachers, and parents. As you enter each day, take a deep breath, smile, and go into your classroom to help your students get a great education. You are up to this. You will be a great teacher when you stop trying to impress/emulate other veterans around you and just be you. I believe in you!

    • Richard says:

      Thank you for this reminder. I think it’s easy to forget because of all the pressures you have mentioned, but the reality is we will make mistakes. The most important thing will be how will we respond to this. We can either let the mistake eat us up, or we can learn from it and make adjustments/improvements. Again, thank you for reminding me that it is ok to mess up, that messing up is another opportunity to learn and grow as I continue to work towards being an aspiring educator.

    • Judy says:

      Thank you!
      Your comments are, I think, the most helpful, and I appreciate your advice. I’m starting tomorrow, and I’m so happy that I found this tonight. I am too hard on myself. You’re right: I will make mistakes. And I will be thinking of your words when I do (in a good way).

  23. Allison P Penrod says:

    Thank you go much for posting this! And thank you to everyone contributing! It’s surprisingly difficult to find good resources/advice for student teaching or even just things geared towards secondary education. Love your blog and podcast, keep it up!

  24. Laura M. says:

    Show humility. I’ve seen many student teachers in my school who arrive and already know it all, or want to appear as though they do. They don’t. Who could, just starting out? No one expects you to know everything, and you’ll get a sense of the teachers you want to emulate by the way they answer your questions.

    The point about a professional wardrobe is a great one! I’ve seen young women bouncing out of their shirts and barely able to bend over to help a kindergartner tie his or her shoe without revealing more than anyone should see in a professional setting.

    If you’re working with young children, please don’t continually talk about how “cute” they are. They ARE cute (and funny), but they’re NOT puppies and kittens and if all you can speak to is how cute they are, you’re not seeing them as learners. They are multifaceted. Be sure to look at them through the eyes of an educator, first and foremost.

  25. Laurel Mattern says:

    Great list! Two other pieces of advice:

    1. Try to start student teaching on the first day of the school year, or even earlier! I met with my cooperating teacher before the semester started, even though I wasn’t required to be there until the 2nd week of school. I was able to listen to the teachers plan for the year as well as help with Meet the Teacher so that the parents were able to meet me. It was also invaluable to have witnessed a “first day of school” so that I had an idea of how it should flow.

    2. Stay after hours when possible (within reason). Go to planning meetings, help the teacher get activities ready, etc. This will show that you are a hard worker and are willing to go the extra mile.

  26. Libby says:

    Learn student names as early as possible…when students realize you want to know them and can call them by name they buy into your teaching.
    Jennifer……how about one of these lists for the host teacher? I am super excited to host two student teachers this fall and I think I am as nervous as they probanly are!

  27. Jennifer says:

    I love the advice! I must disagree about creating a separate social media account to friend students. I believe we need to show students that social media can be a good outlet and a great way to network without being ridiculous. I do think you need to scrub your account and take away all things that make you unappealing to administration.

    I love the marigold post! It’s so true. I had a terrible experience but I had marigolds in my life that kept me going and encouraged me to continue my passion.

  28. sameera says:

    Great work Jennifer!

  29. relationships are everything – with parents, teachers, and especially your students. Work on these first and foremost and everything else will be easier.

    Also I wish I had taken more photos in my first years of teaching! Parents really appreciate when you hand them photos of their kids at the end of the year as do the students…and it’s a great way to remember your classes after a few years have passed ?

  30. Two things:
    1) Always think of yourself as a teacher. Respect the students and expect respect from them, but remember that you are the adult and they are still children. As tempting as it is, don’t try to be their friend/buddy/aunt/uncle/mom/dad. Be their teacher!
    2) After you finish, don’t be afraid of substituting for a year or two (or even three, like I did). Being a substitute teacher will give you time to hone your craft and learn about many different teaching styles!

  31. Great points, I would like to say that students should feel comfortable with their teachers in every manner. If teachers will be free with students, then the students would find easy to share their views with them. To be a better teacher you should know your students well.

    The idea of being in touch with your students through social media is a great and appreciable thought.

  32. Monica Knuppe says:

    My advice:

    Make copies of all lessons, and put in a box to take with you. You have no idea what job you are going to get.

    Do a bit of volunteering, show up to the student games, stop by the chess club. This will help people write letters of recommendation for you.

    There are many ways to teach, there is no perfect way of teaching. Remind yourself, that perfection can cause a lot of stress. It is better to focus on what is going right, not what did not.

    I think the clothing advice is very good, college clothes really are often not work clothes.

    Smile and love your students, cause that is the best part of teaching.

    Good luck

  33. Jenny says:

    I second Adam: I’ll be student teaching 2nd and 4-6 LS in the fall, and I’m so glad I found this article and these comments before the semester hit! Do any seasoned teachers have advice for the “marigold” bit? As student teachers, we’re pushed to base our school-wide relationships off of our cooperating teachers’ relationships. How should I find and develop a relationship with a marigold, if that person is not naturally my cooperating teacher, in a professional way?

    • Grace says:

      Just be friendly and courteous to everyone. Make a habit of hanging around the teacher’s lounge when you can. I think the marigold article says “Walnut Trees” tend to hang out there, but my experience has been the opposite. Say hi and introduce yourself to everyone you meet. The people who bother to be friendly back and start conversations with you are likely marigolds. I got a lot out of commiserating with the young teachers (1st or 2nd year) in the building, since they were still getting their sea legs, too. Observing other teachers helps with this, too, since it gives you an opportunity to interact with and learn from teachers other than your cooperating teacher.

  34. Katie says:

    I would add to the observation piece – don’t just observe teachers teaching; observe students, teachers, administrators, paraprofessionals, support staff, coaches, etc, etc interacting. Take notes on what you like and don’t like about the school culture so that you have some idea what to look for when you start interviewing (and interview during the school day whenever possible!). I messed that one up and ended up really unhappy with the culture of my first teaching job – something I probably could have avoided if I just had some idea of what to watch for.

    Also, don’t just clean up your social media – especially if you teach older students who *will* want to follow you, change your facebook/instagram/etc name so that students cannot do a simple search to find you. Although you can easily deny their requests, it’s a lot less hassle if they can’t find you in the first place.

  35. Linda says:

    There are a lot of great ideas here! I would add the following:
    1. Observe teaching but also look at organizational practices, classroom arrangements, class schedules, etc. This is something you will be expected to create your first year and makes a huge difference in your classroom climate, discipline, etc. Take pictures of ideas you like and upload them to your own pinterest boards.
    2. BE ON TIME (and do what is expected of you). I feel like I should not really have to say this, but I have had issues with this as a host teacher in the past. If you are expected to be at staff meetings, be there. If your host teacher tells you to have a particular lesson or center activity planned, do what you have to do (come early/stay late/work at home) to get it done in a professional manner. Nothing should look like it was done at the last minute or that you really didn’t care.
    3. Learn as much as you can about organizing field trips and community outreach as well as who helps in the school with various needs (ex: What paperwork do you turn in if you have concerns about a student’s academic/behavioral performance? Who does that paperwork go to? What does a Behavior Intervention Plan look like and who is responsible for it? What does an IEP look like? Who do you tell if YOU are injured and what’s the procedure? etc).
    4. Be careful not to criticize yourself in front of the kids. If they give you a complement, say thank you. Over the years, I have (unfortunately!) heard many student teachers discount students’ complements. (EX: saying “I look fat today” or “My hair’s a mess.”) The kids LOOK UP to you! If they think you are pretty, maybe just accept that you are in their eyes.

    And most importantly, be open to learning! (It never ends!)

  36. Kristin says:

    This kind of goes with networking, but if possible ask the principal or assistant principal to come observe your teaching at some point. Usually they are glad to do it if they have the time! Anyone who has seen you teach can be a reference when applying for jobs and it may also be beneficial if you apply at that school because they have personally seen you in action! Plus, it’s nice to get feedback from them! With that comes being open to constructive criticism from whomever it may be from. You’re just beginning your career! You aren’t going to be perfect and there will always be room to grow and improve!

  37. Stephanie Caraway says:

    Keep a journal. Write in it every single night. Write about your day, your fears, celebrations, confusion, your new friends, mistakes, successes, life. Make it both a professional and personal journal so that you aren’t torn about what you should and should not write. Keep it private.

  38. David says:

    When I was a first year, alternate route teacher, I walked into the classroom like a deer in the headlights. My “challenging” students immediately sensed my lack of experience and authority, and chaos ensued. So my advice to any beginning teacher would be, “Never let them see you sweat.” Project authority, even if you are sure you have no flaming clue what you’re doing.

    Also, regarding social media, our state’s teacher code of conduct forbids us to communicate with students by any media other than official school channels, like my school email account. Before setting up that professional social media page, check the rules in your area.

  39. I am a new teacher blogger myself, and after I published my latest piece (“The Do’s and Don’ts of Student Teaching”) I found this piece! Awesome advice here! Thanks! I’ll be starting my 18th year of teaching this fall, and I just started blogging at the beginning of July. I’ll be sure to follow your website – it looks like it has great content. If there are any teachers looking from some goodies and freebies, that is my focus at teachersweepers.com. I’m looking to pay it forward to other educators!

  40. Awesome list! Love its practicality. From the other side–tips for teachers of interns–here are my top 8. It was originally a much longer list, but couldn’t keep them all. What an honor it is to be a mentor teacher for that intern! http://www.imthatteacher.com/student-teacher

  41. Lauren says:

    Go to meetings with your mentor teacher and participate, especially in content planning. It will give department heads or instructional specialists at the school to meet you, which is definitely good if you are hoping to get a job at that campus or district later.

  42. Michelle says:

    This article caught my eye right away because I will be student teaching this spring and feel pretty nervous! I think like my online profile is pretty tame, people will know my favorite animal is a giraffe but I think that’s okay.
    I also like that you include a lot of specific examples. For instance, you describe what networking actually looks like as a student teacher. Deciding to volunteer at extra-curricular activities may seem like a lot of work when you’re already exhausted but I think it can be well worth it.
    Overall, you and the comments included have a lot of great advice and I thank you for it!

  43. Amalia says:

    I’m a preservice teacher at the University of Illinois gearing up for student teaching in the spring and I couldn’t wait to read this article and the comments to hear everyone’s advice for student teachers. I’ll admit that student teaching is something I’m both very excited to start and also very nervous to start. I really thought that each piece of advice in this article seemed genuinely helpful and I’d say the same for many of the comments. I do have one question I have for you or other teachers in the comments that wasn’t brought up. As a student teacher, do you have any suggestions for how to get to know your host teacher before officially starting your student teaching? Would you say it’s better to meet your host teacher first outside of the school setting or is it better to meet in the classroom?

    • Grace says:

      Ask your host teacher. I invited mine out to lunch, but he just didn’t have the time. We did exchange several e-mails, however, which helped, and ideally, you’ll have a lot of opportunities to chat with them during your plan periods. I don’t think not meeting them ahead of time is a huge issue; it wasn’t for me. That being said, the first time I met my host teacher was when I walked into his first period class, so I definitely would have at least preferred to have touched base with him ahead of time. If you can, some student teachers go in for the teacher work days at the beginning of the school year (or around report card time), but again, ask your host teacher. He or she may be counting on getting a lot of work done that day and might not have time to talk to you, which just comes with the territory of this job.

  44. Chris says:

    My advice for student teachers? Work on figuring out your “teacher personality”. If you know who you are, what you will (or will not) share in terms of your life outside of school, what you will or will not tolerate for behavior, etc, it will project that sense of “adultness” and strength that kids look for.

    That being said, be humble enough to learn from anyone & everyone you can, and to make adjustments to your philosophy as new information and experiences come in.

    Accept your non-perfection as a growth opportunity for everyone involved & an opportunity to learn and model flexibility in the face of adversity for your students.

    • This is awesome advice, Chris! I think a big part of developing that personality is looking around for teachers you admire, then cobbling together the pieces of their personalities that work for you.

  45. Kevin says:

    Be yourself. Treat kids with respect and empathy. Schools are not the precursor to the military. I teach high school so I can’t speak about the little ones. Forget everything they told you in ed classes. We aren’t here to develop test takers.

  46. Teresa Johnson says:

    This is awesome! How can I print this? Would love to have in print form.

    • Hey, Teresa! This is Holly, a Customer Experience Manager. The best advice we have right now is to copy and paste into either Word or Google Docs (or whatever you’d usually use). Jenn is in the process of finding an easier solution, but for now, that’s what we’ve got. I’m sorry we don’t have a better way yet!

  47. All great suggestions and sound advice! I would add, if possible, try to find a “master teacher” and work with that person or at least find one for a mentor with whom you can meet regularly to have a conversation about challenges, concerns, observations, and best practices.

  48. Sarah says:

    Be yourself. Bring your own personality to the classroom. Some student teachers feel they need to mold themselves into a copy of their master teacher. Don’t deprive your class of your unique personality and experiences. It can also be a breath of fresh air for your host teacher.

  49. Cal Hadd says:

    Advice:Run. Run Fast. Turn around, run and keep going. Don’t look back. Seriously.

  50. Grace says:

    This is all great advice! This article sums up what I usually say to new teachers. I would also add: be mindful of how you treat not only the other teachers, but also the other staff members: secretaries, custodians, security staff, etc. Secretaries especially are a) the best humans and miracle workers and b) very tight with the principal. If you are rude to them, chances are word will get back to the principal, and it will reflect poorly on you professionally.

    Secondly, try your best to get along with your mentor teacher, but if you feel like they don’t like you or it’s a poor fit, don’t panic. I was blessed to have two mentors I loved, but a lot of other student teachers in my cohort learned just as much from not-so-good mentor teachers. They just learned a lot more about what NOT to do. One girl had such a conflicted relationship with her mentor, the program was willing to find her a new one, so if you feel the problem is irreconcilable, you can always go to your professors and advisors and ask if they can move you anywhere else. Respectfully disagreeing with your mentor doesn’t make you a bad student teacher and isn’t the end of the world. It just means you have different philosophies, and you have an opportunity to learn more about why they teach like that and what the relative benefits and drawbacks are.

  51. halala says:

    Jennifer thank a million for this open conversation and the great list you wrote in here I will be starting my own teaching practice on 18 april 2017, gotta say I am a bit nervous on whether I will leave a remarkable mark, or whether the educators will be welcoming however this and these comments have helped me a lot. out of the school politics focus on the learners, ask questions, observe a lot and writes, work effortlessly hard. thank you guys a lot. God bless

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