How Do I Make the Most of My Student Teaching Experience?

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The student teaching experience is a mandatory part of any education program, since a big part of learning to teach is actually doing it. Most schools let you be a viewer for one semester before becoming a teacher. You’ll spend that semester observing a teacher and seeing what he or she does in a classroom. When you reach the point where you need to take over the classroom, you can use a few tips to get more out of that experience.

Form Professional Relationships

Student teachers often feel more like students and less like teachers. They go to the school, do their lessons for the day and head back to campus. Working at a school gives you the chance to form professional working relationships with other teachers as well as the principal and administrators in the school. That principal might remember you the next time an opening becomes available or when the school needs a substitute for the day. Forming relationships with your fellow teachers lets you see how those teachers treat their students, the techniques they use in the classroom and even how they unwind after a long day. Heather Sinclair Ward of CNN learned during her student teaching experience while completing a Master’s in Education program that those relationships can also help you navigate through the school system.

Ask for Help

Don’t be afraid to ask for help when needed. Far too many student teachers feel like they need to prove themselves and that asking for help will make them look bad in the eyes of the professional teachers working for that school. Whether you need help figuring out how to use the copy machine, what to do about a problem student or keeping the attention of your students, reach out and ask for help.

Be Friendly Toward Your Students

Think back to your years as a student. Do you remember the teachers who were friendly and encouraged you to learn or the ones who were too serious and made you afraid of school? Students learn best from teachers who take the time to get to know them and the ones who make learning more fun.  While those friendships won’t carry over outside the classroom, those relationships will make you want to keep teaching.

Keep Track of Your Lessons

If you don’t take the time to actually learn the skills you need as a teacher, the student teaching experience means nothing. This is your chance to use the techniques and methods you discussed with your teachers in a real life classroom, which can help you develop the teaching strategy that you’ll use in the coming years. Keep a notebook with you in the classroom. Use that notebook to record the experiences that you had, including which methods excited the kids and which techniques caused them to act out and lose focus. Think of your experience in the classroom as your audition for a teaching job.

Student teaching takes students out from behind their desks and puts them in the front of the classroom. You’ll have the chance to meet people who might help you find jobs later and the chance to learn more about your teaching style. Keeping track of your lessons, forming friendships and relationships with your workers and students and other tips can help you get more out of your student teaching experience.

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