Mariah Miller wrote an article about her experiences student teaching. Read more below to learn what to expect!
I never thought I’d be someone who would get excited to be awake at 5:30am. Student teaching has done that for me. Every morning I get up, get ready, and head off to teach 7th grade English Language Arts at Conestoga Valley Middle School. As an English education major, this is the capstone of my entire college career. Everything that I’ve done has led up to this experience. It’s almost surreal to think about, in a sense.
I didn’t always want to be a teacher. I went back and forth between multiple majors for some time. For a semester, I majored in Biology, then switched to undecided, and then went back to English Education. Why did I choose to become a teacher? Mainly, I just want to teach students how to be good people. If I can teach one student how to be a genuinely good person, I’ll know I’ve succeeded. The thing about being an educator is that you are teaching the students so much more than just your subject area entails. You’re there to help them grow not just as as learners, but as productive people in society. Teaching is not an easy job to have, despite what some people think. Here are some of the things I’ve learned so far during my Student Teaching semester:
- There is so much more to teaching than you think. You’re constantly thinking, changing plans, and adapting. You have to manage the classroom while simultaneously thinking on your feet. Kids will ask you questions that you did not even think would be on their radar. In order to counteract the everyday spontaneity of being a teacher, over prepare and organize. You can never prepare too many activities, or think of too many ways that students could misunderstand. Put yourself in your students’ shoes. What questions would you have about this activity/assignment if you were this student? Outside of the classroom, keep an agenda and calendar with all of the important assignments/lessons you will have to do. You’ll thank yourself later.
- Learning in college classes what teaching is and actually teaching are two entirely different ball games. Of course, the theories and methods are important, but remembering that these are actual individuals with their own unique backgrounds is more important. I can’t stress it enough – get to know your students first and foremost. If you don’t establish rapport with students, it’s almost impossible to get them to want to learn. Your classroom environment is so much stronger when learners know that you care about them and want them to succeed. They’re not afraid to fail when they know you are there to catch them when they do.
- You can’t predict what is going to happen on a daily basis. You may have a plan, but that plan may fall flat and you will have to improvise on the spot. Don’t be afraid to try new things, because your mentor will be there to help you! It’s ok for things to not work out because it’s a learning experience. Failure = growth!
- Don’t be afraid to reach out for support. If you find yourself struggling, ask for help. You have so many people around who want you to succeed.
- It’s not as scary as you probably think it is. Throughout your professional bloc, you will pick up on the ins and outs of your school/classroom (using the printer, taking attendance, organizing student work, grading, disciplining, managing the classroom, etc.). When you start your student teaching semester, your first main focus is integrating yourself back into the classroom. Your mentor won’t just throw you to the sharks without any support. You gradually ease into taking over the classroom.
Lastly, I’ve learned to just have fun and enjoy this valuable time of my developing professional career. It may seem like a semester is a long time, but it flies by when you’re the one teaching. Student teaching has made me more excited than ever to have a classroom of my own one day. I’ve never been so sure of a career in my life. As you take the next step into student teaching, remember these words. I promise they will help to guide you and make student teaching one of the best experiences of your life.
Do you have any advice for student teachers or any experiences other students could benefit from about student teaching? If so, contact Rachel Hicks with your story.