The Things I Learned While Student Teaching

The last four years I spent being a music education major, most of my classes gearing up for my student teaching semester. And let me tell you: there are so many things I learned out in the field that I didn’t learn in class. So I’d like to tell you them, in case you didn’t know before student teaching. 

  • Be prepared for someone, somewhere, to make a mistake. Whether it be in the placement office or your supervising professor, paperwork might get messed up. Once you know who your placements are, contact them and schedule a time to meet up with them. You’ll appreciate this prep period later. 

  • You might cry. A lot. I know I did, because I hated what I was teaching my students and often had panic attacks before my lesson in the teacher’s bathroom. Be vocal about what you’re feeling, even if it’s to a close friend and not your cooperating teacher. 

  • Techniques learned in class might not be what’s in style. Be ready to learn and observe your teacher’s style and adapt to it. 

  • Take notes during your first couple of weeks. Watch how your teacher teaches and how your students behave/respond to it. 

  • You’ll be making lesson plans for everything you do, even if they’re informal. 

  • You won’t get breaks like the children do. Use your prep time wisely to get ahead of your planning, practicing instruments, or even as simple as reviewing what you’re going to teach. 

  • Your placements may not be exactly what you want to teach, but you’ll have no choice but to teach it for 8 weeks. I had to teach 3-5th grade for my first (and only) placement and hated it, but I made it out. You’ll get through it - one day at a time. 

  • Specifically for my music majors - be prepared to play any instrument or at least know fingerings. You don’t want to look dumb in front of your cooperating teacher, let alone your students. 

  • Don’t start off being easy going. Your students will walk all over you and classroom management will become more challenging. With that being said as you get further into your time there, your cooperating teacher won’t save you if your class runs amuck. 

  • You’ll feel rather out of touch with fellow friends and classmates since you’re doing this teaching thing alone. But you’re not alone. Make time to still see friends and catch up. Tell them how you really feel. 

The most important thing I learned is to be involved on campus as much as you’re able to. This is still your last semester as a true college student. Make time to go to that last university activity or concert or sporting event. Because once you graduate, you can’t really go back.