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Dos and Don’ts of Student Teaching

Janelle Cox

This fall, many of you will be student teaching for the first time. Although this may be a very nervewracking time filled with anticipation and anxiety, it’s a perfect opportunity for you to apply everything you’ve learned in college to the test. Here are few dos and don’ts to help you along the way, and make sure your student teaching experience is a success:

Student Teaching Dos

  • Be on time every morning
  • Dress professionally
  • Ask for feedback
  • Go with the flow
  • Act confident
  • Take a lot of notes
  • Show initiative
  • Complete your lesson plans on time
  • Put forth maximum effort in all you do
  • Learn your students names quickly
  • Let students figure out their own mistakes
  • Greet all students and faculty with a smile
  • Treat everyone with kindness and respect
  • Develop healthy lifestyle habits to avoid being sick
  • Arrive at school early to show you are ready to work
  • Stay after school if you need time to plan and help your mentor teacher
  • Volunteer for everything and anything that is going on at school
  • Watch your mentor teacher and other teachers to learn valuable information

Student Teaching Don’ts

  • Try and be friends with the students, you are their teacher
  • Be the first one to leave the building after the bell rings
  • Be afraid to ask for help if you need it
  • Call in sick or miss a class unless it is an emergency
  • Gossip about other teachers
  • Wear anything that you are unsure about
  • Be friends with any students on your social media sites
  • Assume your students can’t find you on your social media sites
  • Expect every lesson to go the way you planned it
  • Expect the children to know your rules and routine by the second day
  • Allow students to call you by your first name
  • Do anything without permission (you are a guest)
  • Be too hard on yourself, not everything will go the way you planned
  • Pass judgment on your mentor teacher

Student Teaching Roles and Responsibilities

In addition to what you should and shouldn’t do throughout your student teaching experience, I’m sure you’re curious what you’ll be doing during your placement. Here is what you can typically expect during your 8- to 12-week teaching experience:

Prior to First Day

Write a letter of introduction and thank your mentor teacher for taking the time to allow you to be in his or her classroom. Second, read all of the materials regarding student teaching so you will be well informed of what is expected. Last, prepare getting-to-know activities to help ease any first day jitters with the students. 

Week One

On the first day of school, you will report to your assigned classroom and meet and greet both students and faculty. You will then observe and learn class rules and routines. During this time make sure you circulate the classroom and get acquainted with the children. The first week you will spend time learning students’ names, memorizing the class schedule and procedures and more. This may vary depending on how much your mentor teacher allows. Later in the week, you will be start working with individual students and plan small instruction activities with your cooperating teacher.

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Weeks 2-4

As the week progresses, you will continue to observe classroom instructions and methods, and familiarize yourself with students’ abilities. You will begin assisting with classroom activities, write and submit lesson plans, teach to small groups and get acquainted to individual students. By the end of week four, you will teach large group lessons while receiving some legitimate feedback about your performance.

Week 5-7

During weeks 5-7 you will increase your planning and workload to prepare you for a full day of teaching. During this time, you will begin to use a variety of teaching strategies and prepare tests, assessments and lesson plans. In addition to that, you will become more independent in leading group work and fulfill all housekeeping needs in the classroom.

Week 8

You are in the homestretch! This last week of student teaching you will assume all teaching responsibilities. This includes: Preparing all lessons and materials, concluding any unit plans, participating in any parent/teacher communication and keeping the cooperating teacher informed of the day’s activities. At the end of the week, you will confer with your mentor teacher (as well as your college supervisor) to discuss your experience. This is the time you can ask for a letter of recommendation to add to your resume.

Always remember that your experience as a student teacher is an opportunity of a lifetime. Take this chance to make professional connections and learn everything that you can. You are now well on your way to shaping today’s youth into thriving citizens.

Do you have any dos or don’ts for a student teacher? Share with us in the comment section below. You may be the key to their success!

Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a Master's of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com, as well as a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, or on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators