If you're preparing to student teach this fall, congratulations! Student teaching is arguably the most exciting part of getting certified to become a teacher, as you'll be learning how to teach through the act of doing it!
While student teaching can be incredibly fun, rewarding, and enlightening, it can also be a little overwhelming. If you're gearing up to student teach this fall (regardless of the grade you're teaching), here are some of our favorite tips for getting as prepared as possible.
#1 - Communicate With Your Cooperating Teacher
Your cooperating teacher is the person who teaches your upcoming class full-time and year-long. While you'll be taking over the majority of the responsibility for the time you're student teaching, the cooperating teacher is an absolutely invaluable resource when it comes to learning how to teach. They will serve as your ally and advocate, helping you navigate teaching their class. Because you'll be starting in the fall, you'll get to set the stage for the year, but your cooperating teacher is still a seasoned professional who can help you grow volumes as a teacher.
If possible, try to connect with your cooperating teacher this summer, either virtually or in-person, so you can get to know one another before day one. Establishing rapport before sharing a classroom is always a good idea, and this way, you can ask any questions and get some solid advice that will set you up for success.
Remember that it can be challenging for your cooperating teacher to have a student teacher, so make sure to be as respectful as possible. Your semester will go much better if you actually cooperate and support one another.
#2 - Start Planning
If possible, talk to your cooperating teacher about the units you'll be teaching and start familiarizing yourself with the curriculum. Are you teaching a novel? Read it now. A lesson on fractions? Brush up. As many teachers will tell you, creating lesson plans is often the most daunting part of teaching, so if you can start creating them now, you'll save yourself a good deal of time and energy down the line.
#3 - Review Your Education Coursework
If you've reached student teaching, then you're coming to the end of your education program! This means you have plenty of helpful curriculum to lean on through the student teaching process. Re-visit some of the best, most meaningful coursework and notes to help you prepare, focusing on areas that you are most concerned or nervous about. What do your textbooks say about classroom management? What were some of the most salient points that you took away about adolescents psychology? You took many education classes for a reason; don't hesitate to put your curriculum into practice!
#4 - Familiarize Yourself With the School
Is it possible to visit the school where you'll be teaching over the summer to get the lay of the land? Just like being a new student, there will be a learning curve when it comes to finding your way around. If possible, familiarize yourself with your classroom and the teacher's lounge, get to know the people working in the administrative offices, and so on.
Also, it's a good idea to review the faculty handbook and make sure you're clear on policies like dress codes, lunch breaks, parking, etc. Realistically, your cooperating teacher will help you on this front, but taking a couple of hours to review these things ahead of time can't hurt.
#5 - Financially Prepare
This is a big one. As you're probably already well aware, student teaching (sadly!) doesn't pay. This means that you will be teaching full time without an income, so you'll want to plan accordingly and get your finances in line now. If possible this summer, set a little bit of extra money aside to help float you while you're student teaching.
If you'll be working another job while student teaching, like many teachers do, make sure you've adequately communicated with your other job and have a schedule lined up that won't interfere with your teaching schedule. Keep in mind that juggling two jobs will be overwhelming at times, so the more you can balance your schedule, the better.
#6 - Rest and Relax
Make sure that, in addition to carving out time to prepare for student teaching this summer, you allow yourself enough downtime to charge your batteries for what is to come. Student teaching is a lot of work, so you'll want to go into the school year rested, rejuvenated, and ready to shape young minds!
Above all else, know that student teaching is an exciting challenge that will be unlike anything you've experienced so far. It's a required and deeply important rite of passage from student to teacher, and we hope you get the absolute most out of it. Good luck and you've got this!