Friday, January 28, 2011

15 Tips for Student Teachers (or LIFE in general)

The Cougar FACS Club (the club created just for people in my major) asked that I write a Top 15 list of things I have learned while being a student teacher.  If you are preparing to be or currently are a student teacher then this is especially for you!  Even if you have no plans to become a teacher, this list is still for you!  Although it is written to the future student teachers--really practically everything applies to life itself!!  (Even #3--substitute TWS for some HUGE project you have to complete!)

1.    Stay organized.  Kids will hand you late assignments or want to know what they missed or wonder where to find a paper after you have graded it.  The only way to face all of these problems and many more is to be organized.  Keep your binder clean with your stuff where it belongs.
2.    Grades change.  Keep up with your grades but don’t stress it!  They change daily and if for some reason you don’t have time to deal with it one day—it is fine to leave it to the next.
3.    Teacher Work Sample.  Just do it!  It is never going to get any easier or more manageable until it is done.  Work hard to get it done in the first block and then enjoy the freedom that comes with being done in the second one.  Also know, it does take time but it is manageable!!
4.    Some parent loves your student.  Yes, even the student that you want to strangle or duct tape his/ her mouth closed—his or her parent still loves them.  More importantly, Heavenly Father loves him/ her just as much as He loves you.  Try to remember this when you get frustrated or overwhelmed with a particular problem child.
5.    I’m waiting.  Some students really forget how to be quiet.  Set your expectation high and hold them to it.  Don’t waste your energy yelling for them to be quiet or shhhhing them.  Tell them once “I am waiting” and then stand there with a mean teacher look.  The kids will get their peers to be quiet probably faster than you could (and a lot less frustrating).
6.    Social Media.  Assume everything you post/ share will get back to your mentor teacher and the parent’s of your students.  Even if you have everything set to super personal and private—still assume that they will be reading it.  One of the girls in my ward is apparently best friends with my mentor teacher.  I had no idea.  But she was reading everything I wrote and then talking with her sometimes.  Fortunately, it wasn't a problem because I everything I shared, I was fine with the whole world knowing.
7.   Smile.  There are days you are going to want to cry out of irritation/ annoyance/ frustration because of something a student will say or do (or generally not do).  There are other days when something bad happened at home.  Keep smiling, even if you have to fake it.  Eventually the smile will turn from fake to real and until it does, this will make everyone’s life better.
8.   Alarm Clock.  This always goes off much earlier than you would like.  Have everything ready before you go to bed.  Make your lunch before, pick out your clothes, have your backpack (yes, I still drag that thing with me) all ready.  This will make your mornings more pleasant and start the day on a good note.
9.    Go the extra mile.  Spend the time necessary to make sure you do things well.  Teaching is not merely about trying to get “it” done but rather doing it well enough that the kids will want to understand.  This includes lessons, activities, staying late after school, the list goes on.
10.Be creative.  Kids rotate from class to class everyday and just take lots of notes.  They don’t want to hear long lectures or do boring worksheets.  Figure out a way to make your lessons exciting so they will want to be in your class.  Play games, do projects, teach them why the notes are important.
11. Class title.  The kids signed up for X class because they wanted to do X.  If they are in a sewing class, teach them the skills but let them sew.  If they are in a foods class, let them cook.  There are days where it is impossible to always accomplish the title of the class but try.  The kids will enjoy the class better and be better behaved.
12. Focus on others.  The life of a teacher is all about serving.  Forget yourself and go to work.  Listen to your students.  Serve them.  Love them.
13. You need a life.  Writing lesson plans, grading, TWS, etc all take forever.  But you have to make time to still have a life outside of school and doing your laundry doesn't really count.  Hang out with friends.  Talk to your family.  Participate in ward activities.  Do things you personally enjoy.  It takes planning but it is possible and everything will go smoother as you make time for you.
14. You are not alone.  Sometimes this is easy to forget when your students are not listening to you or you have to stay in for a night as all of your friends go out (I know this sounds like it contradicts the idea before but having a life doesn’t mean every night…) but always know that you are not alone.  The other girls that are student teaching with you are in the same boat and you could talk to them.  Your mom (although she may not understand all the teaching jargon) will still be a huge support.  Most importantly, Christ is right beside you every step of the way!!  Never forget Him!  Spend time in the temple and in the scriptures—even if you think you are too busy—it really is the only way to survive.
15. You can do everything with a time limit.  It is hard.  It is time consuming.  It is overwhelming.  But the end is in sight!  You really can do everything with a time limit.  You will be graduating!!  You are living a dream.  At times when you want to quit, just remember how far you have come and how close you are to the end.  You would never stop 100 yards from the finish line after running a marathon… and the same with your schooling.

    Junior High Mentor Teacher!! :)

















    High School
    L to R: Carpool Buddy, her mentor teacher, MY mentor teacher, me!
    P.S. Quality= not the greatest... this is a picture of a picture from Sadies.

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