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Topic: Any advice for an "older" student teacher?

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Subject: Any advice for an "older" student teacher?
Date Posted: 5/29/2009 7:09 PM ET
Member Since: 12/19/2007
Posts: 2,408
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I will be doing my student teaching in the fall.  I am a "certain age" and this is a second career although teaching is what I wanted to do all through elementary and high school.  I have been placed in a 3rd grade classroom in a school that is just a few miles up the road and I'm a little nervous.  Lucky me! I get to be nervous for three months!

If you have had a student teacher in your classroom, what advice can you offer?

Date Posted: 5/29/2009 10:48 PM ET
Member Since: 3/4/2007
Posts: 4,577
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I've had several student teachers over the years.  Come in ready to work and don't be afraid to ask for help.  I'd much rather have a student teacher ask too many questions, than have one who thinks he/she knows it all or feels like they have to handle it all on their own.  You're there to apply what you've learned in your classes, but what you've learned in those classes often doesn't come close to what you'll experience in a real classroom. Be open to change and remember that flexibility is huge asset.  A big thing to remember is that many of us are looking forward not only to helping you hone your skills, but we're looking forward to learning from you as well.  As a student, you're closer to the newest thoughts and techniques than many of us.  You bring new ideas and a fresh perspective, so please share what you have and your co-op will do the same.  Steal every idea you can from as many people as you can.  Make master copies of everything you find fun or interesting. Don't be afraid to jump right in with discipline; establish your expectations from the start and stick to whatever classroom rules you establish, even if they seem a little too strict.  You can always lighten up as the students get to know you, but if you start off wishy-washy, they will eat you alive.  Don't be afraid to make mistakes in front of the children and if you do, for heaven's sake, admit the mistake!  Showing kids that everyone makes mistakes helps them to be more willing to take a chance when they're unsure of themselves.  Plus, if they catch your mistake, it's a good way to remind them about checking their work before handing it in.  Get out in the school and meet others on staff.  Establish yourself as part of the school community and make sure the principal and school secretary know your name.  This will help when you're out interviewing because you'll be remembered as someone who was interested and involved.  Most of all, have fun with the kids.  Third graders are my absolute favorite group to work with.  They can be trying, but they'll also give you their complete devotion if know you care about them. 

Date Posted: 5/31/2009 8:33 AM ET
Member Since: 11/6/2005
Posts: 642
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READ during your three months!  I teach a course  in Classroom Management for career changers such as you.  When I have student teachers I tell them, "It doesn't matter to me if it takes more time to do the lesson, get your classroom management down!" 

Books I would recommend:  Sharon L. Tate's "Shouting Won't Grow Dendrites" - easy to read, research based, very helpful.  She has a series of the "Dendrite" books and I recommend them all.  Robert McKenzie's "Setting Limits in the Classroom" (second edition) - His discussions of consequences is exceptionally easy to understand.  Wongs "First Days".  Go onto the ASCD.org site - into publications - click on Educational Leadership - archived issues - you won't be able to access all of the articles unless you are a member, but you will have access to many.

Good luck!

Date Posted: 6/3/2009 7:32 PM ET
Member Since: 8/15/2008
Posts: 9
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Wow! Sandy H. really said it like it is.  I have been teaching for well over 20 years and am six years away from retiring early.  I teach the junior high age, grades 5-8, and I absolutely love them!  However, student teachers don't seem to want to work in those grades so I have never had a student teacher.  I have requested them, but they always go to grades K-4.  I was lucky enough to have a former student teacher at our school substitute teach for me for two days.  My fifth graders loved her and  filled me in on all the things that Miss D. did and how she taught.  Rather than being put out, I was impressed.  I really felt her ideas were fresh and workable.  The way she displayed art projects was totally cool!  I guess I agree with Sandy H. when she said you have to take charge immediately and let them know who is boss!  Don't be afraid of them.  Be aware of your body language and how you walk in the classroom.  Stand up straight and show authority.  I guess respect is the very first thing you need to insist on.  A sense of humor also is an asset.  Kids love to laugh.  I have loved every single day of my teaching career.  You will not regret your decision to teach! 

Date Posted: 6/6/2009 9:08 AM ET
Member Since: 6/4/2009
Posts: 1
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Good luck!  I will be an "older" student teacher in about 2 years.  I've enjoyed reading the advice of the seasoned teachers above.  I've been a substitute teacher for 2 years, and I will say the letting the students know  your expectations, as far as discpline goes, up front, really works.  That, and following through!

Date Posted: 6/6/2009 3:29 PM ET
Member Since: 12/26/2008
Posts: 1,958
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I just finished with a student teacher and here is some of my advice. Take your master teacher's advice. Work hard at ALL things you have to teach and not just those on which you will be evaluated. Keep copies of everything, and ask your master teacher for copies of her good stuff. Management is the hardest thing to learn. Do your best to take charge. Listen to advice. You may THINK you have it when you actually don't. My student teacher had the kids loving her, but she wasted an inordinate amount of class time. In the real world, we do not have that much time to waste. If your master teacher tells you something, don't be defensive, even if you do not agree. Mull it around for a while before you decide whether or not it is true. Jump in as quickly as possible and do not be afraid to make mistakes.
Subject: Advice for Student Teachers!
Date Posted: 7/14/2009 10:41 PM ET
Member Since: 7/14/2009
Posts: 2
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HI, have been teaching high school biology for 15 years and have had many student teachers.  Although, I realize that you are an elementary teacher, I believe that there are some 'truths' about teaching that all teachers, student or otherwise, should follow:

1. Be yourself. Don't try to be 'cool' or act a part that you are not. The kids smell a fake a mile away - once you have lost their respect, you are done.

2. Admit when you don't know something and then find it out to be brought up the next day.

3. Don't be afraid to 'hold the line' in terms of your classroom rules or grading policies (be sure they are fair by  checking with others!). Again, kids respect this and don't want a 'pushoverr' for a teacher.

4. Reinforce strong values. For example, be careful to check ratings on movies, insist on manners and always err on the side of being personally conservative (even if you are not!)!

5. Seek out the advice of other teachers!!!!!! Turn to more experienced teachers and new teachers for help, advice and to vent!!!

6. Finally, LISTEN to the voice within you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Once you learn to recognize it, and HEAR it, you will make less mistakes and have less conflicts with students, parents and admin!


Hope this helps!!!!! good luck to you!!!!


Subject: Advice for Student Teachers!
Date Posted: 7/20/2009 9:43 AM ET
Member Since: 5/28/2009
Posts: 23
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What a wonderful thread!   I'm going into teaching as a 2nd career (6-12).   I admit to being a bit nervous as well.  While I'm a tough old broad, I understand that some of the middle schoolers can be truly daunting.   I'll continue to follow this thread.  This is great advice!