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Student teachers are often placed in an awkward and stressful situation, not really sure of their authority and sometimes not even placed with veteran teachers who are much help. These tips can aid student teachers as they begin their first teaching assignments. These are not suggestions for how to approach the students but instead for how to most effectively succeed in your new teaching environment.
Be On Time
Punctuality is very important in the 'real world'. If you are late, you will definitely NOT start out on the right foot with your cooperating teacher. Even worse, if you arrive after a class has begun which you are supposed to be teaching, you are placing that teacher and yourself in an awkward situation.
As a teacher, you are a professional and you are supposed to dress accordingly. There is nothing wrong with overdressing during your student teaching assignments. The clothes do help lend you an air of authority, especially if you look young. Further, your dress lets the coordinating teacher know of your professionalism and dedication to your assignment.
Remember that the coordinating teacher has pressures placed upon them just as you have your own pressures to deal with. If you normally teach only 3 classes and the coordinating teacher asks that you take on extra classes one day because he has an important meeting to attend, look at this as your chance to get even further experience while impressing your dedication to your coordinating teacher.
Follow the School Rules
This might seem obvious to some but it is important that you do not break school rules. For example, if it is against the rules to chew gum in class, then do not chew it yourself. If the campus is 'smoke-free', do not light up during your lunch period. This is definitely not professional and would be a mark against you when it comes time for your coordinating teacher and school to report on your abilities and actions.
If you know you will need copies for a lesson, do not wait until the morning of the lesson to get them completed. Many schools have procedures that must be followed for copying to occur. If you fail to follow these procedures you will be stuck without copies and will probably look unprofessional at the same time.
Befriend the Office Staff
This is especially important if you believe that you will be staying in the area and possibly trying for a job at the school where you are teaching. These people's opinions of you will have an impact on whether or not you are hired. They can also make your time during student teaching much easier to handle. Don't underestimate their worth.
Remember that if you are taking notes about students or classroom experiences to turn in for grades, you should either not use their names or change them to protect their identities. You never know who you are teaching or what their relationship might be to your instructors and coordinators.
It might be tempting to hang out in the teacher lounge and indulge in gossip about fellow teachers. However, as a student teacher, this would be a very risky choice. You might say something you could regret later. You might find out information that is untrue and clouds your judgment. You might even offend someone without realizing it. Remember, these are teachers you could be working with again someday in the future.
Be Professional With Fellow Teachers
Do not interrupt other teachers' classes without an absolutely good reason. When you are speaking with your coordinating teacher or other teachers on campus, treat them with respect. You can learn a lot from these teachers, and they will be much more likely to share with you if they feel that you are genuinely interested in them and their experiences.
Don't Wait to the Last Minute to Call in Sick
You will probably get sick at some point during your student teaching and will need to stay home for the day. You must remember that the regular teacher will have to take over the class during your absence. If you wait until the last minute to call in, this could leave them in an awkward bind making them look bad to the students. Call as soon as you believe you will not be able to make it to class.