The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
Becoming a better teacher takes time, patience, and practice. Being a current student working toward their elementary education degree, I know a lot about that. After observing several grades during your child development course, you are introduced to the world of teaching and if the career is right for you. The next step is your clinicals. Clinicals are when you, as a college student, go into the elementary/middle/high school twice a week to work alongside a teacher to gain experience working with kids first hand. In this article, I will give my tops five tips to being successful in your clinicals.
- Be open minded/flexible/able to adapt
This is super important! As a college student, your main goal is just to learn and take in as much as possible from your clinical teacher (CT) before your short time is up. After being at the elementary school for my own clinical experience for two months, I figured this out rather quickly. Having an open mind to activities your CT gives you to do with the students will help you learn independence and confidence in your ability to teach. In addition, being flexible and able to adapt when students don’t finish assignments or if there happens to be a fire drill, or a change in schedule, will help you to plan activities and lessons accordingly.
- Be willing to accept constructive criticism from your CT
At first, I was a little discouraged by this; however, don’t let it get to you too much! As hard as it is to hear, your CT only wants to help you grow and become a better teacher. They aren’t trying to hurt you or tell you you’re wrong. I learned to take what my CT says “with a grain of salt.” Obviously, they have more experience than you and may have a specific way of teaching but they DO NOT know everything. Times are changing and the way things were before, aren’t the same as they are now. There is no right or wrong way of teaching, rather it’s what works best for you!
- Have patience
When working with kids especially, patience is key. Younger students may process information slower and need more time to fully understand concepts being taught. By being patient with your students helps them to feel okay about their learning. In addition, with a little prompting and feedback will allow students to feel better about their learning as well as help them to know where they can improve!
- Create a friendly/personal but also, more importantly, a professional bond with other teachers/staff and especially your students
This will be so important during your first few weeks being a teacher, and in my opinion learning it sooner rather than later is better! During my experience I learned to listen to others who may specialize in an area that you don’t. By doing this, you are trying your best to better understand the help your students are receiving and maybe help you to adjust some of your teaching to reflect that. This bond that you create will help you feel more comfortable and confident in your teaching, when there are others around to support and encourage what you are trying to do. Building those relationships with your students helps you to get to know their personal and at home life in addition to their life at school. In some cases, it can help you to better understand them as students! Like the advice my CT gave me at the end of my two months: “Be firm, they will still love you.”
- Show your appreciation
At the end of our two month experience, my clinical partner and I decided to get a little appreciation gift for our students and CT. We wanted to thank them for allowing us to be a part of their class, helping us grow and letting us gain first-hand experiences! The gift doesn’t have to be much, a mug with a teacher saying, notepad and pen, teacher-quote block, and/or a gift card. These are some ideas that my partner and I got for our CT. In my opinion, I would say the thank you card is the most important part of your gift! Here is where you get to thank your CT for all their help, support, and motivation and really write all the things you are thankful they helped you with during your experience!
At the end of the day you see the reward. Kids smiling, giving high fives or hugs as they walk out the door and you see why you chose this career path. Teaching is hard work, and it takes time to fully learn all that you need to know to help yourself be successful as a teacher and to help your students be as successful as they can be. If you take anything away from reading this article, I hope that you never give up, learn from everyone and everything, work hard, ask questions, take every opportunity you can, and put passion into what you do. Teach with care, not just to care! Good luck on your journey!