Kathy is a former student teacher who now teaches elementary music in Marshall county. Thanks to Kathy for her perspective
Be professional in every way. Arrive on time. Leave when the cooperating teacher leaves. Attend all meetings and duties associated with the position. Use planning periods to plan. (Believe it or not, I have had to explain to a student teacher why it is inappropriate to sleep during planning periods.) Dress professionally. Don’t ask if your attendance/participation is expected. If you are excused, the cooperating teacher will let you know.
Have a plan. Lesson plans are to be completed in advance, so that they can be reviewed and discussed. Please see this as an opportunity. Your cooperating teacher will be pleased that you are prepared and will surely add constructive feedback to aid your success. Please align your plans with the Content Standard Objectives. There is a curriculum, and it must be followed. Make your life easier by setting up the classroom before the kids enter. You can learn a lot by watching your cooperating teacher, but even more by assisting, asking questions, and being a part of the process.
Be positive. We have all heard it before, “There is NO WAY that I would EVER take this job.” Let’s get this straight. We all have our preferred teaching assignments, and those will likely be taken by teachers with seniority. I have heard it from student teachers, and I don’t appreciate it. I just want to say, “It is MY job, and it means something to ME, so while you are HERE, it needs to be important to YOU!” Don’t let your disinterest diminish a meaningful classroom experience for the kids. Smile. If you have to, fake it.
Get a sense of the school environment outside of your assigned classroom. Be familiar with school policies and procedures. Are there policies regarding lesson plans? How do I make a purchase? What is the budget for the music program? Learn how to manage the budget. Ex. Who pays for all of these recorders?
Identify your strengths. Familiarize yourself with classroom resources. Observe the ability levels of the students. Study the CSO’s. NOW, make a plan based on all of that information.
Student teaching is your #1 priority.
Trust that this experience is going to take a lot of effort. You must learn to communicate effectively. You must plan accordingly. You must act professionally. Do not expect to shine because you show up, or because you wrote something down…make it worthwhile. Make it a positive experience for the kids. They need to learn. That’s what it’s all about.