It wasn’t that long ago when I was a wide-eyed, eager-to-learn student teacher. I remember those couple of months that I jokingly referred to as “free labor” to be challenging, enlightening, and rewarding. That quick snapshot in time undoubtedly laid the foundation for my first full-time position to follow.

Now that I’ve had opportunities to work with student teachers from the cooperating teacher standpoint and various other roles, I’d love to share a dozen must-do’s. If you’re a student teacher or a soon-to-be, please consider. If you’re a supporter of student teachers, please share!

  1. R.E.S.P.E.C.T.:  Find out what it means to your cooperating teacher! Being welcomed into a teacher’s classroom is almost as personal as being welcomed into their home. Be courteous and bring a positive attitude.
  2. Get Snappy:  Snap pictures endlessly! Document, document, document your work. Take photos of everything you see, do, and learn for later reference (but not for posting unless given permission).
  3. Build a Network:  Do you have a way of communicating/collaborating with your fellow classmates face-to-face or virtually? There is real power in connectivity with peers.
  4. Initiate and Innovate: Show interest. Volunteer to do more than what is assigned to you. Share your ideas. Be bold! This is your chance to put your learning to the test.
  5. Swivl It:  Have you ever tried videotaping yourself while teaching? There is no better way to reflect. It is eye-opening. The Swivl is an easy-to-use technology tool that acts like a personal cameraman. Your school or division may have one available for you to borrow. Ask your school’s technology specialist.
  6. Social Media Sweep: You become a role model the day you step foot into the classroom. Be sure to clean up your social media pages if you haven’t already. If it’s not something you’d want your students, their parents, your colleagues, or your employer seeing, get rid of it!
  7. To Observe or Be Observed:  Do both! Be gracious to those who allow you to visit and elicit/reflect upon the feedback you’re provided when others visit you.
  8. Mock Interview: Reach out to your principal to request a mock interview. It will give you an idea about the kinds of questions you may be asked in future interviews. It also gives them the chance to get to know you. It may be unlikely for a position to be open at your school when you finish, but your principal’s administrative buddies may be looking to fill one. A good word can be HUGE! That’s how I got my first gig!
  9. Quality over Cutesy:  Student teachers have the tendency to get wrapped up in the look of the lesson. Think more about creating authentic, dynamic activities that hit your learning targets and less about how pinnable it may be.
  10. Dress to Impress:  Wear professional attire at all times. Remember, you are basically a walking advertisement for yourself. Each morning think, “Would someone hire me solely based on my appearance today?” Also, be sure you can reach, bend, kneel, etc. without putting on a show.
  11. Leave on a Good Note: At the close of your experience, show gratitude to your cooperating teacher and all those who provided you support. A small gift or a thoughtful, handwritten note may go a long way.
  12. Build Relationships:  This seems obvious, but I just can’t say it enough. Cultivating strong bonds with your students is the cornerstone of effective teaching. This should be your top priority!

Student teachers, was this list helpful? How are things going? Teachers, do you have any advice to add? Please do so in the comments section below.

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