I am currently in my full-time student teaching placement and through my time in placements and now, I have lots of tips and tricks that could be helpful for up-and-coming education majors! I have learned so much from my time in placements and continue to grow as a future educator every single day that I am in the classroom!
- Prep and Plan Ahead
I have always been a student who prepares and plans as far ahead as humanly possible. Student teaching and placements can be overwhelming and go by super quickly. Make sure you are thinking ahead on assignments. At the beginning of each semester, I try to create a master list of assignments with due dates. I also start communicating with placement teachers ASAP to get started on things before I even start.
- Form Connections in Districts
This is stressed to all students, but it is so important to do in placements. Make sure you are making a huge effort to get to know other staff members. Staff meetings are great ways to get to listen in on teacher opinions, things happening in school, and information that relates to the district curriculum. Another great time to make connections is during lunch. Sit in the staff break room with the other teachers, and converse with all the teachers when they are outside of the classroom. Go out of your way to introduce yourself to staff, especially School Admin like the principals and vice principals! They will remember you and appreciate your efforts to get to know them and become involved in the school’s events and tasks.
- Ask your cooperating teacher for their curriculum materials and assessments
It helps tenfold to get to know the curriculum and content that students are using in the classroom. This helps when you start taking over teaching and can jump right into the materials with confidence. I learned quickly that some scripted curriculums can be very heavy and long-winded. Being familiar with the teacher’s workbooks/guides makes it easier to identify essential parts of the lesson and eliminate fluff.
- Be professional
There are high expectations regarding professional behavior for student teaching and other placements. One of the most important things is to be on time. Make sure you are developing a set time expectation with your teacher early on. Also, dress professionally. Warmer months can be hard to dress professionally but make sure you are NOT wearing shorts, jeans, flip flops, tank tops, shirts that are low-cut or show midriff, etc. Clothing should be modest and I personally try to stick with dresses, longer skirts, and loose-fitting blouses or plain shirts with light cardigans. Your dress should reflect the same as if you were going to meet adults for business events. Use appropriate language and also be a positive role model for students. Lastly, it is super important to monitor any social media, texts, or physical things that can circulate on social media and circle back to your school admin. Your content should be kid-friendly, not inappropriate, mature, or showing illegal/dangerous activities.
- Take care of yourself, don’t stress because you will be okay!
School days can feel so long and never-ending, make sure you are getting enough sleep and replenishing your energy so you can make it through the day. Pack a lunch and a snack to keep yourself fed and energized throughout the entire school day. I try to eat something healthy in the morning like a banana, apple, or protein like bacon or sausage. This starts me off on the right foot. I also bring extra water to ensure I am hydrated all day. It is easy to get lost in the day and suddenly it is 3:30 in the afternoon when you realize you haven’t eaten or drank anything. Keep up with activities you enjoy too, even if you feel super busy. It can be hard to balance personal time with work as you start getting into placements more. Prioritize working out, being active, getting sleep, and doing activities you enjoy in the evenings when you have a bit of time. These things make a difference in your attitude and personality and that transfers to students.
All in all, it can feel daunting as you enter into student teaching or longer placements. Please know that you will be okay and you truly don’t need to stress as much as you likely are. Be proactive, remain professional, make connections, and prioritize some self-care. It will feel so good as you near the end and feel graduation nearing. As for the students in student teaching now, like me, YOU ARE SO CLOSE & YOU GOT THIS!!
From a current student teacher,