Thursday, September 09, 2010

7 Tips for preservice teachers (aka student teachers)



I am currently supervising a very competent student-teacher. I decided to reflect on what it is that Josie is doing well. To those who are about to go out to schools, here are some tips:

Meet your supervisor(s) before you begin your round
Try to make a time to see your supervisors before the start of your round. Ask for their timetables. Spot the dress code among staff. Ask your supervisors if there are particular skills they would like you to brush up on.
Turn up on time
On the first day, especially, arrive at the school well before the time. Attach yourself to your supervisor so you know where you need to be.
Bring your own mug
This may seem like a trivial thing. Believe me, it is important. Before I went out on my first teaching round, a lecturer related her horrifying experience of going to a school, sitting in "dragon lady's" chair and taking "dragon lady's" cup. It was not pleasant!
Keep a list of queries
Teachers are busy. Keep a list of queries you have for each of your supervisors. By committing to having a student-teacher follow them, they have also committed to giving you some of their time. During agreed upon times, ask all the questions on your list. This is much better than interrupting them every time you have a question.
Learn the names of the students in the classes you teach
Ask for a classlist. If possible, obtain photos of those students. Mark a piece of work or check their books. Whatever you do, learn their names very quickly. You cannot manage student behaviour if you can't address the students by name.
Learn to "manage up"
Your success in the round is crucial. Make sure to set up meetings to plan and to review lessons. Do not wait for your supervisors to say, "let's talk about the upcoming lesson." They may well do that but they may equally forget. After you have taught a few lessons, ask them what they would like you to concentrate on for the remaining time of your round. Ask the same thing again one week before the end.
Check your plans before you teach
You may plan a great lesson and arrive in the classroom all excited, only to notice that the interactive whiteboard pen is kept somewhere else (as is the case in my school). Check the equipment in the relevant venue before the lesson. It is essential that you project an image of competence at the beginning. You may not have enough time to rebuild your image with the students if you don't.
Teaching rounds are very hard work but they're the only way you will work out for sure whether this profession is for you. They are also a great opportunity to "make sense" of your university studies. I plan to post an article that addresses the supervisor's side of the deal. Till then, I wish my student-teacher all the best.

Drop me a comment if you have something to add to my list.

4 comments:

Vivienne

said...

I'd add "observe classes outside your teaching areas and learn the generic skills of managing groups of young people....if you can't manage, you won't even get the opportunity to teach."

Anonymous

said...

That's a great list, Elias. If only someone had given me that advice before I went on teaching rounds! I especially like the point about the dress code, again seems trivial but is actually quite important sometimes.

Liz

said...

Smile and say hello to everyone! You never know who can be helpful to you or what you might learn through a casual chat in the staff room!

Elias

said...

Thanks for the excellent comments, Vivienne, Liz and Anonymous. Classroom management is certainly the issue most likely to challenge a new teacher and other staff around are likely to provide great resources and advice.