101 Things I Learned from Student Teaching, Part IV

Here is the conclusion of “101 Things I Learned from Student Teaching.”  Take notes, student teachers.  I just finished up student teaching and think my list will help you mentally prepare for the semester.  Check out part Ipart II, and part III.  It goes by so quickly, even though some weeks you’ll be counting down the hours till Friday.  Enjoy!

76. As a teacher, you have to be “on” all the time.  That means being your best self even if you’re having a really crappy day.  Your students deserve your best always.

77. Always have on hand: an extra pair of clothes, hair ties, snacks, water, ibuprofen, chapstick, breath mints, tampons, and face wipes.  ALWAYS.

78. Wear a watch.  Many of us are used to checking the time on our cell phones – not cool in school.

79. Layering is key.  In the same exact building, at the same exact time, there can be a 15-degree temperature difference.  Cardigans for the win.

80. Don’t take naps during the school week.  It will SERIOUSLY mess up your sleep/wake schedule.  I promise, it’s never worth it – just go to bed early.

81. Start taking vitamins if you don’t already do so.  You’re probably going to get sick at least once during student teaching.  When it’s all over, your immune system will be formidable.

82. You should always have a ready-to-go lesson plan with you. There were several instances where I was thrown into a situation last minute and was expected to teach.  Remember what mom said: if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

83. YOGA.  I neglected yoga and regret it.  Learn from me!

84. You will be tempted to let student teaching take over your life entirely.  Don’t let this happen!  Plan fun things to do on the weekends (and maybe one weeknight per week) with your SO, friends, and family.  A good teacher is NOT the teacher who has no life outside of school – that’s a boring teacher.

85. About said fun things – document them when you can so you can share with your class.  My boyfriend and I went to New York when I was student teaching and we ran into Mario (from Super Mario Bros.) in Times Square.  One of my students was OBSESSED with Mario and Luigi, so of course I took a picture of Mario and me to show to the class.  Turns out, that particular student was in New York the same weekend and also “met” Mario!  It was such a wonderful, mushy bonding moment.  It really makes a difference to students when you let them in to certain parts of your life.

86. Never, ever let dishonesty go.  If a student won’t admit to something, stop the class and wait for the truth.  If it doesn’t come, you may have to explain that because a certain person won’t come forward, the whole class will have consequences.  I know, it sounds awful.  When my cooperating practitioner first did this, I thought it was unfair.  However, come January, she has a class full of students that will tell the truth (some take more nudging than others).  You can never send the message that you tolerate lying.

87. Share some neutral personal information with them – they are so curious to know about you.  I brought in a picture of my dog to share, and I would talk about him now and then.  Now, when I see students in passing, they usually ask about Brady (first graders!).

88. If you mess up, tell your cooperating practitioner immediately.  Don’t try to cover it up.  People make mistakes all the time.  It matters how you handle your mistakes.

89. Be very familiar with the state standards and/or Common Core for your grade/subject.

90. Develop a strong stomach.  Spoiler: kids can be pretty gross, but you’ll love them anyways.

91. Take off and wash your clothes in HOT water when you get home.

92. Write weekly goals for yourself that include things you need to do for your students, for your cooperating practitioner, your supervising professor, and yourself.  Your to-do list will seem less daunting when it is categorized into smaller steps.

93. Be patient with yourself.  Student teaching is so hard; don’t make it any harder on yourself.  Accept that you are going to mess up (a lot) and resolve to learn from every mistake you make.  Ask for feedback and ideas for avoiding the same mistake next time.

94. Plan out your next week in advance (either on Fridays and during the weekend).  On the academic side, have any lessons you’re teaching prepped (with lesson plan, student copies, and materials) and waiting for you.  Do all of your own schoolwork in advance.  On the lighter side, lay out your outfits for the week (check the forecast!) and have lunches packed.  These steps will SAVE YOUR SANITY!  It may seem like overkill, but unforeseen circumstances pop up all the time and you will be relieved that you planned ahead.

95. Try not to be crabby outside of school.  I’m guilty of turning into a swamp witch on several of my nearest and dearest because I was stressed out about student teaching.  They love you and will forgive you, but *try* to minimize your grumpy old person behavior (you won’t always succeed with this one, hehe).

96. Teaching will make you better person.  In profound ways.

97.  Read books that have nothing to do with teaching, learning, education, etc.  Again, your mind needs breaks from school.  Try to read every night before bed.

98. Write a note to each student at the end of your experience.  Tell them exactly why you believe in them and what makes each of them uniquely smart.  Thank them.

99. You will appreciate a glass of wine (or 2) on a Friday night more than you ever thought possible.

100. Be yourself as a teacher.  Don’t turn into a caricature of yourself.

101. Have fun.  Smile often.  You are one of the luckiest people in the world if you are a teacher.  Remember that!

Do you have any other tips, questions, or comments?  I’d love to hear them in the comment section or in a message!

xoxo, Miss M

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