Student teaching has been one of the most rewarding but also exasperating experiences of my life. I am dealing with 140 students every single day. Some of the most valuable things I am learning have nothing to do with the content.
Today, I want to share with you– not necessarily tips because I know not many of you are teachers of anyone, let alone 7th graders– but lessons and things I’ve learned about teaching and myself.
- Be Yourself- All people can spot a fake a mile away. My seventh graders would easily figure out if I was faking. I laugh at things that make me laugh, I answer questions, and I am me. When students ask me something, if I can, I try to look it up for them to be able to provide an answer.
- Relate to your students (audience)- I have a few examples of this. My school does a Throwback Thursday every Thursday where they show an old picture of a staff. One week, one of my students though the picture was me. So I told him that I looked the same and actually showed him an old picture of me. I have another student who is getting braces this week. I had a good 15 or so minute discussion with her and even showed her an awkward braces picture of me to show that it truly does get better and the effort is worth it. I also talk about things in my students’ lives that we share or try to relate to their experiences.
- Don’t be afraid to mess up- It seems that the stereotypical idea of a teacher is someone who is never wrong. That’s simply not true. I mess up ALL THE TIME and I make sure to own it, even in front of my students.
- Be weird- The other day, we were talking about Island Hopping in WWII. To help recall their memory, I would jump from one foot to the other in the hopes of triggering their memory. I got some laughs but it worked. I have fun with what I do, and it works. I’m still in authority but they see me as more than just a student teacher.
- Respect your students- I make sure every student voice is heard. I talk to them like people, and most of them respect me. I was out sick yesterday, and I had a student tell me today “I’m so glad you’re back.”
- Teach the content in ways that you enjoy- If you’re bored, your students will be too. I make them read, which they all hate. (I don’t care because it’s necessary to read.) However, I make the activities fun and interactive. They seem to respond to the activities well, and I love what we’re accomplishing.
- Don’t be stingy with extra credit- ALL students love extra credit. I built some in to my assessment last week, and almost all of my students got a 13/10. They respond well to it.
- Always encourage and praise- I like to point out when my students are doing well, and I know it encourages them. My students have really grown and flourished. But that being said…
- Don’t be afraid to lay down the law when needed- I’ve had to bring out my “man voice” a couple times. My students will usually respond well because they know it takes a lot.
- Appreciate where you’re at- I want to teach high schoolers. That hasn’t changed. When I found out I got placed at a middle school, I could’ve been really disappointed in not getting a high school. Rather, I am using this time to the best of my ability and making the most of it. As a result, I am really enjoying where I am and working on improving myself. My students are wonderful, and I love what I do.
It’s really great student teaching. I love what I’m learning and what this time is teaching me. I look forward to where these skills are going to appear in my future classrooms.