5 Tips for Student Teachers

Leave a comment

Working in any new environment can be stressful. For the student teacher, you hope to be paired with a welcoming and helpful veteran teacher; but this is not always the case. In this situation, a student teacher may question the amount of authority they possess; and how much participation they can expect. Here are tips for student teacher to become accustomed to a new environment.

1. Plan Ahead

A week or so before you begin a student teaching job, check in with the administration of the school, as well as with the teacher with whom you will be working. Make introductions and ask what, if anything, specific requirements they may wish for.

Once on the job, make sure to always be prepared. If you know you will need copies for a lesson, make them at least as early as the day before the lesson is to be given. It is common practice in many schools to follow exact procedure for copying. Failing to follow these procedures will leave the student teacher stuck without copies. The result is that you look unprepared and unprofessional.

2. Make friends with office staff

Befriending the office staff is always a good idea, even if you do not plan to seek employment at the school where you are student teaching. Many student teachers befriend staff only if they want to work in the school where they student teach, if at all. However, making this a practice is professional and helps the new teacher to get into good habits. The opinions of those who work in administration and support do have an impact on whether or not a new teacher has a chance at a job; but these people can also make the student teacher’s job easier to handle.

3. Remember Confidentiality

Many times student teachers take notes that they turn in for grades. When doing this, it is important to remember to change names or not use names in order to protect privacy. You never know who you may be teaching, and what their possible relationship to those who may review your notes. More than this, it is simply good practice to create habits of confidentiality to honor student’s identities.

4. Dress for Success

Even as a student teacher, you are a teacher and therefore expected to dress in a professional manner. As a student teacher, especially if you look very young, it is appropriate to over-dress. For instance, wear a comfortable suit with sensible shoes instead of slacks or jeans. The way you dress for student teaching sets the tone for your professional image. It gives the coordinating teacher a clue of your professionalism and dedication to your assignment.

It can be tempting to dress to match the teacher with whom you are working. However, this is not recommended, especially if that teacher is lax in their dress. The student teacher is creating an image that will stay with them throughout their career. It is always easier to create good habits from the start than to try and change bad habits later.

5. Be Timely

It should go without saying that timeliness if of the utmost importance to the student teacher. Arriving just as the bell rings is not much better than arriving 5 or 10 minutes late. In particular, when the student teacher is set to teach a lesson, arriving 5 to 10 minutes early is recommended.

Advertisements

Mistakes in Teaching

Leave a comment

Teaching is an interactive process that includes real people with real feelings and real strengths and weaknesses. Since the teacher is the leader of the classroom, it is imperative that he or she know what to do and what not to do. The reason is simple; the teacher has to get through the school year just as the students do. With the right attitude and planning, more can be accomplished and enjoyed.

Mistake #1

The top mistake that teachers make is starting off the year imbalanced. The balance referred to is that of teacher student relationship. This is a fine line that the successful teacher will learn to walk. There are two typical scenarios: either a teacher is completely disengaged from students, or the teacher befriends their students. Either extreme is a mistake.

The teacher should be friendly without implying friendship. Friendship is not necessary for learning. Teaching is not about being liked or being popular with students. A teacher who is friendly but holds firm to specific and clear expectations will be respected and listened to, and that is what is most important.

Mistake #2

Losing control of the classroom is an awful situation for teachers to find themselves in; but it happens in schools all around the world. In order for students to get the most benefit from their school day, the learning environment must be sacred and guarded. This responsibility falls directly and solely onto the teacher. Students will have bouts of misbehavior; but control of the classroom can be maintained by a well-prepared teacher.

First and foremost, a teacher should never yell at students; even to get their attention. Teachers who routinely yell at their students are quickly written off as unreasonable. Instead of allowing frustration to boil over, a teacher will do well to remember that silence is sometimes a more powerful way of dealing with classroom chaos.

Frustrations should also never come out in the way of humiliation or sarcasm. The older students get, the more this behavior is seen in teachers. Teen students can be a challenge, this is certain; but a teacher should remain calm and have specific plans in place to handle discipline issues before the school year gets rolling.

Mistake #3

Every classroom needs rules; but some teachers have a tendency to create rules that are basically unworkable. When rules are seen as unfair, or create problems, they are unworkable. Creating policies for a positive learning environment take time but the payoff is huge. How often are classes disrupted unnecessarily, and how often can this be tracked back to poor planning?

Classroom rules should be clear and concise. Too many rules will overload students and create animosity. A teacher should set aside time before the beginning of the school year to determine the type of learning environment desired for their classroom and create rules based on those desires. For instance, students can be directed to bring required materials to class every day unless otherwise instructed. This rule clearly communicates what is expected. There should also be a consequence for not coming to class prepared.

When making classroom rules, it is important to know your reasons for creating rules. They will be tested, and you will have to state your reasons – sometimes many times.

The Teacher’s Plan for the School Year

Leave a comment

teacher's planAt the beginning of the new school year, teachers are busy preparing their classrooms and lesson plans. In all of the hustle and bustle, it is quite easy to forget to think about classroom management and discipline. As every teacher knows, however, these two issues can eat up valuable class time and cause undue stress if not handled correctly. Here are some tips to develop an all-inclusive plan to help your school year run more smoothly.

It is a common mistake to start the school year off without a discipline plan in place. Students, smart creatures that they are, make a quick assessment of your plan – or lack thereof – and will know exactly what they can get away with. If you set low standards and accept disruptive behaviors at the beginning of the year, it will be more difficult to correct the problem than if you set a standard for appropriate behaviors from the first day forward. The key: start out tough to maintain appropriate classroom behavior throughout the year.

As hard as you try, there may come a time when you encounter a difficult student that needs a little more attention in the discipline department. It is important with students like this to not engage in confrontation in front of other students. In a confrontation, there is always a winner and a loser. When dealing with a particularly difficult and quick spoken student, it is easy to come out looking like the loser if you get frustrated in front of the class. With this type of student, it is wise to handle discipline issues privately, after class. Asking a student to stay behind when the bell rings calls very little attention to the situation; and also allows you time to formulate proper discipline without letting emotions guide you.

Communication is paramount for kids of all ages. In the classroom setting, a teacher will do well to clearly communicate their expectations for each session. For instance, if you are entering into a quiet reading time, you may announce “during this session, I expect that each of you will read quietly, without talking, for 20 minutes.” You may need to state your expectations at the beginning of every session, or every day, for several days before your students know exactly how they may and may not behave in your classroom.

This communication begins on the very first day of school and does not let up until the end of the year if need be. Every student should be held to your standards; even though it is expected that you will have certain students that you “click” with more than others. Students are very aware of what is fair and what is not and so it is important that you, as the leader of your classroom, be fair in your dealings with each and every student.

It is the responsibility of the teacher to create an environment of learning for their students; not just to lecture facts and figures. In order for students to learn, they need to engage; and in order to do that, they need the right environment. And to get that, they need you to have a plan.

Teachers and Time Management

Leave a comment

Teachers are in the position where they have to fit a lot of tasks and materials into each day. They must stay on track while still ensuring that their students retain the information being taught. All in all, without proper time management, a teacher can quickly become overwhelmed by the stresses of the job. If you want to give your best to your occupation, do what it takes to become very effective with your time management. Here are a few tips to get you started:

Use the resources available to you. If there is something new you would like to introduce to your classroom; chances are you are not the first. Talk to other teachers you know and tell them about your ideas. This is a great way to find out if others have done the same thing. You may find that you come away with several tips on how to complete your project or plan successfully.

Making lists cannot be overstated when it comes to time management. Everyone in any occupation (and even at home) can benefit immensely from itemizing the tasks that they wish to accomplish each day. Some teachers recommend creating the habit of making 3 goals each day. When you have your list of tasks you need to accomplish, prioritize them; placing your biggest task first. By accomplishing your most dreaded goal first thing in the day, everything else looks easy!

Distractions are huge time stealers. This can be the parent who loves to chat or the colleague who loves to pick your brain. The best way to tackle these types of distractions is to listen for a few minutes (you never want to be rude) and then explain that you would love to hear more, but have work that you need to get back to. During times when you are pressed to accomplish a task, it may be necessary to lock your door and put out a nicely stated “do not disturb” sign.

Sometimes it is necessary to actually remove yourself from your normal environment in order to accomplish tasks in a shorter amount of time. This may mean that you head to the library on to grade papers so the football game blaring on the television does not keep you from focusing 100%. It may mean that you leave campus to grade papers if your attention is constantly diverted in this setting.

The times that are allotted for breaks should be used as such. Many teachers feel that they will get more done if they work through their lunch break. However, by taking time away from work and even away from campus (depending on how much time you are given) can renew your energy to such a degree that you accomplish more when you return.

Likewise, time at home should be for you and your family. If family responsibilities and chores are overwhelming, delegate them to those who share your home. Explain that their help is necessary and use the saved time to do something fun together. This helps you unwind and keeps you from forgetting to focus a little on yourself.

The Teacher’s Life: Keys to Avoiding Burnout

Leave a comment

Teacher's LifeIt is estimated that $2.2 billion is spent annually in our public schools due to teacher turnover. It is no secret that teaching can be a stressful career. It may be a surprise, however, to learn that about half of new teachers leave teaching within the first five years of their career. Many teachers cite low salaries, negative student behavior and lack of administrative support as the primary reasons they seek employment in a completely different field.

With the numbers shown above, you can see just how necessary it is for every teacher to know how to avoid burnout. Those in the profession enter it because they have a strong desire to help children learn and grow. To see them leave what they love because strain has built up to such levels that they see no other way is simply sad. If you are new to the profession, or are finding yourself suffering from undue stress; it is imperative that you seek ways to recover after every day spent in the classroom.

Part of what can be very helpful to teachers is the support of another. Just as it is for students, it can be highly effective for teachers to work in teams. Having a partner with which to prepare and organize lesson plans can help a teacher feel more at ease with what can be an overwhelming task. Talk to another teacher who teaches the same grade as you and make the invitation to work as a team.

Extra help can also be found through parents and the students themselves. Invite students to take on tasks like cutting out or laminating papers for extra credit. Anything that doesn’t require grading or adult supervision can be a task that you delegate to students. Parent volunteers can take on the task of grading papers during their volunteer time. Every teacher knows just how much of a weekend can be given up to grade papers; so finding a solution to this dilemma can lift a large burden from your shoulders.

When you lessen your grading load, you then have time in the evenings or on the weekends to spend time being something other than a teacher. In order to love what you do for years and years, you’ve got to remember to be a person outside of that occupation. Because teaching requires you to give of yourself constantly, you must learn ways to replenish just as consistently. Take a weekend away with a friend or loved one to visit a local attraction not associated with school. Go to the beach or head to the mountains for a nature hike.

Getting out in the fresh air is a great way to relieve tension and rejuvenate the senses. Because so much of your time is spent indoors in a classroom that can get noisy, it could be quite refreshing to create an outdoor area in your home where you can go at the end of every day. Creating a small ritual of sitting in your quiet outdoor area allows you to make the switch from work to home more easily. If home contains its own responsibilities that hit you as soon as you walk through the door, stop at a local park for some quiet time before driving home.