Before I launch into talking about student teaching, let me give some background about my teaching major and how I felt before beginning student teaching. I’m a Vocal Music Education major, so my licensure is for Kindergarten through 12th grade. This means that I have 2 separate placements for my final semester of student teaching.
For the first half of the semester, I was placed in a high school and soon I start my second placement at an elementary/middle school for the second half. It seems to me that the focus in my education and content classes at WSU has been very heavily elementary oriented, so I was definitely a lot more nervous for the high school because I didn’t know what to expect.
I was scared out of my mind to do my student teaching and, with the daunting task of taking the edTPA on top of that, I didn’t know what I was going to do. The night before my first day in the classroom I couldn’t sleep because I was sitting up thinking about the next day and how it would go.
As midterm approaches, I can safely say, however, that I had absolutely no reason to be scared or anxious. I just had to be willing and motivated to put in the work student teaching requires.
I was lucky with my first placement. The high school I’m located at has a great environment, the students are respectful, the teachers are all welcoming and there are many of extra-curricular activities so that I can learn more about how the school functions. I am learning a lot and finding my excitement for teaching again.
Now if I was anyone reading this, I wouldn’t want to hear about someone else’s experience as much as I’d like to get some pointers and tips for when I start my own student teaching. So that’s exactly what I’m going to provide you with:
- Let the students know you care. Attend their extra-curricular activities, talk to them, ask them about their lives and just get to know them! They are probably excited to see a new face in front of them and if you show them that you want to be there, they will show you respect.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions!!! Your cooperating teacher, other faculty, students– absolutely everyone has something they can teach you.
- Plan ahead and stay on top of your work. Because all the work you have to do for student teaching is amplified by the preparation you have to do for the edTPA, you need to make sure you’re staying on top of it all. As college students, procrastination is sometimes our biggest problem, and you can’t afford to procrastinate while student teaching!
- Break-up the edTPA into smaller steps. There are 3 tasks to the edTPA, but those tasks should be broken up as well. Don’t try to do it all at once. Give yourself a timeline and stick to it and you won’t be overwhelmed.
- The edTPA isn’t as hard as it’s made out to be. If you stay on top of it and focus and read all the instructions, you will be able to complete the edTPA effectively and without too much stress.
- Give yourself some “You Time.” I’m often stressed by all the work I have to do, but taking time to sit for a half hour and read a book or watch an episode of Friends on Netflix has proven to be a great way to re-focus my head on the tasks at hand.
In closing, student teaching isn’t so scary. Allow yourself the opportunity to learn, grow and have fun. This is what you’ve chosen as your future, and it doesn’t have to be so strict, scary and stressful! Enjoy yourself!