Updated: Apr 9, 2019
I want to introduce you to Liliana Totten, an amazing preservice special education teacher. I had the honor of working with her during her courses at Grove City College. In this guest post, she shares 5 things to keep in mind while you are you are student teaching. So, sit back and relax this is going to be a great read!
1. You are ready for this.
Remember all those field experiences and class discussions? They prepared you for this new chapter in your college career. You don’t know everything an experienced teacher knows, and that’s a good thing. Keep an open mind and absorb as much as you can. This is a learning experience, and you are ready for it!
2. Harp on successes and learn from mishaps.
Early in my student teaching experience, I taught a lesson that can be accurately compared to a sinking ship. By the end of class, the students stopped participating almost entirely with that highly dreaded “blank” look on their faces.
If you’re anything like me, you’ll be inclined to mull over a lesson like this in your head 48 times, give or take. Word of advice: Write down five specific and measurable changes based on your reflection, laugh about it, and move on. Reflection is a key part of teaching, but it doesn’t have to focus solely on deficits.
In fact, your reflections will be far more valuable to you when they incorporate balance. Even when a lesson went exceptionally well, evaluate why it was so successful, and watch yourself teach with a stress-free attitude that focuses on positive growth!
3. Recognize how many hats you wear each day.
* Professional Educator
* Student of [Your College or University]
* Apprentice, Intern and Learner in your field
* Liaison between your supervisor and cooperating teacher
* Representative of your teaching program
* Advocate for the students and their families
* Specialist in your specific content areas
Don’t let my list intimidate you—yours may be similar or entirely different. Student teaching is a unique time where the “rubber meets the road” in many respects. The best part is, as you settle in to each of your new roles as a professional educator, you will find your focus shift from a survival mindset to a mentorship model. Before long, your personal and professional growth will propel you to better empower your students to accomplish their goals.
Pro tip: Don’t be afraid to ask questions!
Your supervisor, co-op, and professors are available to help you figure out how to balance these diverse roles. When things are going well, take pride in your accomplishments across each part of your job. When you feel disheartened, remind yourself of this list. There may be room for improvement in some areas, but there are still so many other areas where successes can be found.
4. Challenge yourself to look at the clock less.
No, you did not read that wrong! At times, you will feel like you don’t have enough time to plan, deepen understanding, build community in the classroom, prepare for a test, and so on. The battle against the clock is a major issue for teachers, both experienced and pre-service alike. When it comes to time, we often tend to focus on what we don’t have and not what we do have. To combat this common preoccupation, plan for the time you have with intentionality and flexibility. Use an anticipatory set that truly engages students into the learning and widens their understanding of key concepts. Even a “brain break” can be productive, meaningful and important for your students.
In the business world, there has been a large shift toward thinking about managing one’s energy instead of time. How does this relate to student teachers? By focusing on keeping your students’ bodies, emotions and minds energized, you can keep young minds engaged. Give yourself the same privilege by distributing your energy resources and avoiding burnout. For further information, I recommend reading Harvard Business Review’s “Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time.” https://hbr.org/2007/10/manage-your-energy-not-your-time
5. Enjoy your work.
Working hard doesn’t have to feel like blood, sweat and tears all the time. If you’ve made it to student teaching, then you already know that teaching requires diligent work, meaningful reflection and meticulous planning. At this point, have fun with your field work. Immerse yourself in building relationships with professionals, students and families. Incorporate pieces of your own personality and interests into your everyday routine. Not only will your students benefit from your passion and excitement, you will enjoy the experience even more.
All gifs from: https://giphy.com/ Harvard Business Review (2007): https://hbr.org/2007/10/manage-your-energy-not-your-time
My name is Liliana Totten, and I am a senior elementary and special education major at Grove City College. I have just completed my student teaching, and will graduate May 2019. I have special passions for inspiring young minds and making education accessible to all students.
Well friends, I hope you enjoyed reading this fun and practical article. Please know that you can do this. Some of my favorite parts of her story are:
This is a learning experience, and you are ready for it!
Student teaching is a unique time where the “rubber meets the road” in many respects.
By focusing on keeping your students’ bodies, emotions and minds energized, you can keep young minds engaged.
Immerse yourself in building relationships with professionals, students and families. Incorporate pieces of your own personality and interests into your everyday routine. Take Lili's advice and run with it.
What would you add to this list? Comment below and share with a student teacher friend!
You have the EduMagic in YOU!