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How to Be an Effective Student Teacher

Janelle Cox

After Christmas break many of you will begin your new student teaching placements. This is a very exciting, but nerve-wracking time. Here are a few ways to be an effective student teacher, as well as how to have an enjoyable experience.

You are a Viable Part of the Classroom

Before you even enter the doors to your new classroom remember that you are a viable part of it. Students will look up to you for guidance and count on you to teach, lead, and manage their class. If you walk into the room thinking you will just sit back and watch your mentor teacher, think again, because you are very much a central part of the classroom.

Organization is Key

Student teaching can become very overwhelming even for the most organized individuals. But, if you plan ahead and keep everything you need organized, it will make your life a lot easier. The best way to get organized is to keep a binder that has dividers in it. This way you can place papers into sections such as behavior management, assessment, etc. When you see your mentor teacher plan a great lesson, or love a bulletin board idea, then write it down, or take a picture and keep it in your binder. It is also a good idea to keep a section for lessons plans, and student teaching expectations.

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Provide Hands-On Learning

The key to be being an effective student teacher is to provide students with lessons that are hands-on. Worksheets can be used to supplement an activity, not be the central activity. The best way to impress your mentor teacher is to keep your students actively engaged. If your school has access to iPads or computers, utilize them. Kids love technology and it doesn’t hurt to show off a few of your tech skills. If you don't have access to the latest in educational innovations, than try a few cooperative learning activities with your students. Your supervising teacher will love that you are incorporating the skills that you learned in college.

Don't Be Afraid to Ask for Help

The biggest mistake you can make is not asking for help when you need it. Your supervising and mentor teacher are there to help you learn. If you feel silly because you can't get the copy machine to work, don't. Even the most seasoned teachers have a hard time with things like that. If you're not sure where to sit for lunch, ask. Don't be afraid to ask for help of any kind, no one will think any less of you.

Stay Professional and Enjoy the Ride

The single best advice anyone can give a student teacher is to always stay professional and enjoy every second of your experience. As a temporary member of the faculty you are given the same expectations as the rest of the teaching staff. It is essential that you dress professional and act professional at all times. Even though you may be young, or look young to the students, you still must act the part of a responsible adult that possess the skills to manage a classroom.

If you had a bad day where the students misbehaved and you were unsure how to approach the situation, ask for help. Then start the next day with a clean slate. Student teaching will be an experience of a lifetime. If you thought your college classes prepared you for the classroom, you thought wrong because you will never learn more than when you are in an actual classroom.  Take in all the advice you can get, and enjoy the ride!

What do you think it takes for a student teacher to succeed? Do you have any advice you would like to offer? Please share with us in the comment section below! We would love to hear your thoughts!

Janelle Cox is an education writer who draws on her 15 years of professional experience in the education system. 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, where she provides educational information and lesson plans for teachers around the globe.

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