Baptism by Fire: 100 Essential Tips and Resources for Student Teachers

For those working their way towards a teaching degree, the excitement that comes along with becoming a teacher can be tempered by the terror of actually having to manage a classroom full of kids. Student teaching, and the first few years of teaching that follow, can be valuable and rewarding experiences, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t be stressful and crazy as well as you get the hang of being in charge of a classroom. If you’re not teaching in any Ivy league prep school you’re likely to get razzled from time to time.Here are some tips, shared experiences of other teachers, advice from the pros, and helpful information that can help make your student teaching experience the best it can be.

General Tips

Here are a few general tips to keep in mind.

  1. Be flexible. Even the best plans for lessons, projects and homework sometimes just don’t go as you expected. Try to keep things flexible so you won’t be completely derailed when students don’t respond the way you hope.
  2. Prepare for the unexpected. Along those same lines, when the unexpected does happen, make sure you’re ready for it. Keep a few backup lessons on hand so you won’t be left out in the cold if you need something to keep your students busy.
  3. Learn from other teachers. You’re student teaching in order to get an idea of how to teach, so what better way to supplement your experience than to ask questions and learn from those who are already in the field?
  4. Talk to parents. Learning to work with parents can be difficult, but it’s a necessary component of being a teacher. Make sure to keep parents informed of their child’s progress.
  5. Share your personal skills. Each person brings a different set of skills to the table when they start student teaching. For instance, if you’re a great artist, try incorporating art into your student’s lessons.
  6. Watch what you say. Those just entering student teaching can have a hard time remembering that what they say and do must be closely monitored, both in front of students and other faculty members. You never know what could come back to bite you, so keep your comments to yourself when at school or in public.
  7. Learn to prioritize. This can be a good rule for life in general, but it’s especially important when you’re teaching students. Figure out what parts of the lessons are most important and concentrate your energy on those.
  8. Find out how your school is run. You’ll make things a lot easier on yourself by figuring out the little day to day operations of the school you’ll be working for. Speak with administrators and cooperating teachers to get the information you’ll need to keep things running smoothly.
  9. Plan, plan, plan. When you’re starting out in teaching, you can’t ever plan too much. While it may seem tedious to spend hours planning out every detail of your classes, it can be a good way to keep you feeling confident until you really get the hang of teaching.
  10. Create simple rules. The best rules are those that are easy for your students to remember. Keep things simple and lay out some simple guidelines for students to follow to keep them well-behaved and attentive during class.
  11. Focus on what you do know. Student teachers and those just starting out in the field will sometimes feel like what they don’t know far outweighs what they do know. However true this may be, try focusing on what you do know instead. The rest will come in time.
  12. Don’t try to do it all at once. Many student teachers go into their classrooms with a million ideas for lessons. However, you’ll give yourself a heart attack running around trying to do all the things you want to do at one time, so focus on fully exploring a few of your ideas at a time.
  13. Ask questions. Don’t know something? Just ask. Those around you are there to help, so take advantage of their experience and knowledge as you work through your student teaching.
  14. Learn about the experience. While reading doesn’t compare to real life experience, it can help prepare you and give an idea of what to expect. Read articles and books about student teaching to help prepare you for the months to come.
  15. Enjoy it! At the end of the day, student teaching should be a fun and rewarding experience. Make sure you’re not so wrapped up in doing well that you aren’t taking the time to truly enjoy and appreciate it.

Blogs

Read the insights of both experienced and first year teachers in these blogs.

  1. EdCompBlog: David Muir is a professor at the University of Strathclyde who teaches educational computing. Readers can learn about technology in education and get some helpful advice from an experienced educator as he guides his own teaching students.
  2. On the Tenure Track: This new teacher explores the daily trials of dealing with administration, unruly students, and the process of finding and staying in a teaching position.
  3. New Teacher Diaries: Follow the growth and experiences of these first year teachers in math, special ed and elementary education in these Edwize blogs.
  4. First Year Teacher: Blogger Lisa shares her ideas, lessons and feelings on her first year working as a writing instructor in high school and college classrooms.
  5. Bob’s Blog: Bob is a new college grad and a current high school social studies teacher in an economically challenged area of Georgia. This blog shares his thoughts on his teaching experience, everyday life and more.
  6. Cool Cat Teacher Blog: New and experienced teachers alike can take advantage of this blog which provides news, ideas for lessons, and great links to Web resources for teachers.
  7. My First Year: Follow several teachers through their first years working in classrooms in this blog.
  8. New Teacher Assistance: Are you a new teacher? Do you need a little help? This blog can give you some ideas and advice on developing as a teacher.
  9. So You Want to Teach?: Billed as "education for educators" this blog shares teaching experiences, ideas and more to help you along in learning to teach.
  10. Life of Mike: Those entering an ESL teaching position may find information of interest in this blog about new teacher Mike’s experiences.

Guides and Tools

These guides can give you a little help in pulling it all together when you’re teaching.

  1. Student Teacher Survival Guide: The National Education Association provides student teachers with this helpful guide to make the most of their experience.
  2. Survival Guide for New Teachers: Get some advice from the US Department of Education on how to work with other teachers, parents and administrators as a student teacher.
  3. What to Expect Your First Year of Teaching: Not sure what to expect after you graduate? Check out this information from the Department of Education to give you some ideas.
  4. Simple Tips for Successful Teaching: Get some tips for managing your classroom and keeping things running smoothly from this Education World article.
  5. How to Organize Paperwork: Teachers both new and veteran have to deal with loads of paperwork. Learn how to keep it all in order with some tips from this article.
  6. Beginning Teacher’s Toolbox: This site contains resources like a survival kit, numerous tips and articles, mentors, inspiration and more.
  7. A Beginning Teacher’s Diary: Here you can see and follow along as new teacher Sarah plans her classroom time, works with students and develops lessons.
  8. How to Simplify the Grading Workload: Grading can take up a big chunk of your time, especially if you’re teaching the upper grades. This article can help you make grading a little easier and still effective.
  9. Ways to Energize Your Students: Learn to give your classroom a little more pep with some ideas from this article.
  10. How-tos for Teachers: Here you’ll find a collection of how-tos that can help you do everything from create lesson plans to professional portfolios.
  11. How to Be the Best Student Teacher in History: Get a jump start on making a good impression as a student teacher with some help from this article.

Lesson Plans

Coming up with lesson plan ideas can sometimes be a challenge. Use these sites for inspiration.

  1. Awesome Library: Find information and resources on just about every school topic on this comprehensive site.
  2. Teaching Earth Science: Get some ideas on lessons about all the processes of the planet from this geology-focused lessons site.
  3. Teacher’s Page of Lesson Plans: This site from the University of Alberta brings together links to dozens of great sources for lesson plans.
  4. Read Write Think: These lessons are focused on helping students improve their reading and writing and can give you some great ideas to bring into the classroom.
  5. Lesson Plans Page: Hot Chalk offers over 3,500 lesson plans to teachers of all grade levels and subjects.
  6. Lesson Plans Library: The Discovery Channel provides teachers with these lesson plans that cover topics like physical science, math, history, health, fine arts and more.
  7. Historic Maps in K-12 Classrooms: Make your history lessons a little more interesting by using some historic maps. This site can give you some ideas on how to do that effectively.
  8. The Educator’s Reference Desk: Search through lesson plans by subject on this site which offers thousands of plans for almost every topic.
  9. EDSITEment: The National Endowment for the Humanities sponsors this site which offers teachers lesson plans in art and culture, literature and language arts, foreign language and social studies.
  10. CyberGuides: Find guides and lesson plans for teaching language arts on this State of California-based site.
  11. Gateway to 21st Century Skills: Find loads of resources on this site from lesson plans to tools to help you improve your leadership skills.

Classroom Management

Not everyone has an easy time keeping their classrooms running smoothly, but you can get some advice from these sites.

  1. 11 Techniques for Better Classroom Discipline: Try out these 11 techniques to see if you can better deal with behavior issues in your class.
  2. What is Your Classroom Management Profile?: Take this quiz to see how you like to manage a class and what might work best for you.
  3. Discipline and Classroom Management: This big list of resources can help you find information on dealing with any issue in your classroom.
  4. Classroom Management Ideas for Elementary School Teachers: Get some advice on maintaining order in your classroom when you’re working with young children.
  5. NEA Works4Me Tips Library: Get access to hundreds of tips on classroom management from the National Education Association.
  6. Don’t Waste a Minute!: Learn how to manage every moment of your day, including the awkward ones, with some help from this article.
  7. Managing Inappropriate Behavior in the Classroom: Every classroom will have children that act out from time to time. Learn to deal with them by reading this guide.
  8. The Really Big List of Classroom Management Resources: Here you’ll find a huge repository of links to articles and tools on classroom management.
  9. Creating a More Peaceful Classroom Community: Work with your students to create a more harmonious environment using the advice in this article.
  10. Classroom Jobs: How and Why to Assign Them: Learn why it can be a good idea to assign your students jobs around the classroom from this article.
  11. How to Create and Enforce Classroom Rules: Learn how to lay down the law in your classroom with a little guidance from Teachnet.
  12. A List of Ways to Encourage Good Behavior: Bring out the best in your students by employing some of these tips in your classroom.

Forums

Chat with others in your situation and those who are more experienced in these forums.

  1. Teachers.net Student Teacher Chatboard: Talk with others going through their student teaching experience on this chatboard and get support and advice.
  2. A to Z Teacher Stuff Forums: Ask questions and talk with teachers new and experienced on this large teaching forum.
  3. Teachnology New Teacher/Student Teacher Forums: Discuss all kinds of issues that relate to new and student teachers on this forum.
  4. The Teacher’s Corner New Teachers Forum: New teachers can come together to talk on this forum, find answers to questions and get guidance from those with more experience.
  5. The Education Forum Student Teacher Support: Student teachers looking for some support may be able to find it on this large education forum.

Advice from Others

Get a little advice from those who have gone before you from these sites.

  1. Miss Draper: This site is full of teaching resources for student teachers, from projects and games to a daily journal.
  2. Ten Tips for Student Teachers: Make sure to start your teaching experience off right by considering these tips beforehand.
  3. Teachers Network: This site is home to loads of resources for new teachers to help make your student teaching and first year as a professional teacher as easy and rewarding as possible.
  4. Advice for First Year Teachers From the Principals Who Hired Them: Many principals were once teachers first. This article provides some advice from these experienced educators for those just starting out.
  5. New Teacher News: This site is entirely dedicated to providing resources and information to new teachers through articles, blogs and even online mentoring.
  6. Advice for Student Teachers: Take some advice from a recent student teacher on how to make the most of the experience in this article.
  7. 10 Pieces of Advice for a Student Teacher: Find some ideas to help you face your student teaching experience in this blog from the University of Florida.
  8. Teaching Tips for Student Teachers and New Teachers: Need some resources and advice to make it through your first teaching experiences? This site can provide you with hundreds of resources.
  9. Teaching With Passion: Advice for Young Educators: Jonathan Kozol has years of experience working with and teaching in inner city schools, and here he provides new teachers with some advice on getting started in teaching with enthusiasm.
  10. Student Teaching Advice: A variety of veteran and new teachers have posted their advice for student teachers on this blog.

Professional Organizations

As a student teacher you’ll soon be entering the world of professional teaching. See what these professional organizations have to offer.

  1. American Federation of Teachers: You can join millions of other teachers in this organization, plus read informative articles, and get advice on jobs, salary and more.
  2. National Education Association: This organization provides teachers with all kinds of helpful resources to aid them in improving their classrooms and their students’ learning experiences.
  3. National Council of Teachers of Mathematics: Math teachers can bond with others on this site or find links to the latest and best math resources, conferences, research and more.
  4. National Council of Teachers of English: Find professional development help on this site dedicated to bringing together English teachers at all levels.
  5. National Center for Learning Disabilities: Those working with special education children may find helpful resources and articles through this site.
  6. Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development: Get information on improving your lesson plans and curriculum through this professional organization.

Resume and Interview Help

One purpose of student teaching is to prepare you to get a job upon graduation. These resources can help make that process a little easier.

  1. Resumes for Teachers: Here you’ll find sample resumes that can help you learn to better write your own.
  2. Developing a Teaching Resume and Cover Letter: The guidelines laid out in this article can help you create a winning resume.
  3. Writing a Teaching Resume: DePaul University provides teaching students with this site that gives sample resumes as well as advice on what to include and what to leave out.
  4. How to Get Your Teacher Resume Noticed: Some schools receive hundreds of resumes each school year, so make sure yours stands out with some help from this article.
  5. Teacher Resume and Interview Tips: Use these tips to ace your resume and interview for the teaching job you want.
  6. An Elementary Lesson in Writing a Resume Cover Letter for a Teacher: This article covers the basics of writing a good teaching resume.
  7. Elementary Teaching Portfolio: Many schools will want more than just a resume from you, they’ll want a portfolio as well. Learn how to construct a good one here.
  8. Hard Copies: Writing Resumes That Work: Learn what makes a good resume and how to write your own with some help from the Washington Post.
  9. The Teacher Interview: This article covers what you can expect to be asked when you go in for an interview for a teaching position.
  10. 100 Teacher Interview Questions: Review these questions before going into your next teaching interview.

Books

Read up on teaching with these great resources.

  1. The First Days of School : How to Be an Effective Teacher: This book is a great reference material to add to your bookshelf, as it covers many aspects of classroom management and lesson planning.
  2. Rookie Teaching for Dummies: Here you’ll find essential information for the beginning teacher, including how to deal with paperwork, legal issues, administration and politics.
  3. Learning to Teach…Not Just for Beginners (Grades K-8): Find forms, certificates, resource lists, and reproducible materials in this invaluable teaching resource.
  4. First-Class Teacher: Success Strategies for New Teachers: First year teachers can find all kinds of useful advice and information in this book, as well as reproducible materials to use in class.
  5. Your First Year of Teaching and Beyond: This book is designed to suit the needs of student and first year teachers and provides practical advice to deal with all kinds of challenges that come along with teaching.
  6. Survival Kit for New Teachers: Learn to plan for the first day of school, get organized, create lesson plans, deal with discipline, and much more in this book.
  7. Teach to Reach: Over 300 Strategies, Tips, and Helpful Hints for Teachers of All Grades: Enhance your teaching skills and your classroom environment with some helpful guidance from this book.
  8. Teaching With Love and Logic: Taking Control of the Classroom: Teachers are bound to encounter many situations in the classroom they were never prepared for, and this book gives some advice on how to deal with the unexpected without losing your cool.
  9. Strategies That Work: Teaching Comprehension to Enhance Understanding: This book gives teachers some help in teaching reading comprehension and helping students to understand and learn more effectively.
  10. The More Ways You Teach the More Students You Reach: 86 Strategies for Differentiating Instruction: Learn to effectively teach students in dozens of different ways through the instruction provided in this book.

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