Six Tips to Maximize Your Student Teaching Experience

Tips that will allow you to optimize your student teaching and equip you for your first classroom.

By Mollie Moore


Teacher with student

Student teaching is a right of passage through which nearly all prospective teachers must go. This experience is extremely valuable and helps new teachers to prepare for their first year. If you are about to begin your student teaching semester, or if you know someone who is, here are some ideas to help you get the most out of student teaching.

1. Get to Know the Administration

At the school where I was placed as a student teacher, the principal was a gentle, older man. As a requirement of my university’s program, we set up a time to talk, and I went into that meeting with questions. Some questions I asked him included: What did he look for when he is interviewing teaching candidates?, and why did he choose to make education his career? Later, I went back to him and asked for his advice on my resume, as it was going to be one of several hundreds sent in for one particular job. He was willing to give me advice and continued to check in on me throughout my internship. I appreciated and valued his help and support. 

2. Observe Other Teachers if You Can

If possible, observe as many teachers as you can. Your cooperating teacher’s style might not match your style. My cooperating teacher was more motherly and quieter than I am, so I learned from her, as well as educators with different styles. Seeing what works for other veterans helped me gather more ideas, including teaching styles and ways of structuring a class.

3. Take A Lot of Pictures

This was a suggestion that was given to me, that I did not follow. I definitely regretted that decision, especially when I only had four days to set up my classroom before school started my first year. Taking pictures allows you to remember how others designed their rooms, organized room flow, and created bulletin board ideas. As you are setting up your room, it can be great to have a quick reference. Having a variety of pictures on-hand can help you narrow down your style for your new room.

4. Pay Attention to Your Teacher’s Organization

Becoming organized is an ever-changing process throughout your teaching career. Having a start point is an excellent idea as you will have so much of which to keep track. Notice how your mentor teacher decides what to teach, how she writes her lesson plans, how she tracks students’ progress, and how she organizes her worksheets. Where does she keep extra copies and other supplies? How does she keep track of missing work? All of these seemingly small details will suddenly seem like big details when you are managing your own classroom. 

5. Note Your Cooperating Teacher’s Classroom Management System

Classroom management is the hardest area for most first-year teachers. It was for me, especially working in an inner-city school. Write down the rules and consequences in each classroom you observe. Make copies of teachers' tracking systems. Notice how they obtain respect from their students and how they maintain classroom order. One important key is to notice how the other teachers, especially at other grade levels, do it as well. After all, what works in fifth grade, usually does not work in eighth grade.

6. Make Copies! Make Copies! Make Copies!

Record sheets. Worksheets. Graphic organizers. It will save you so much time, which you will need, as your planning time will not always be your own. Copy everything you can, all of it! Then, keep it in an organized way, so you will not have to reinvent the wheel, when time is short. 

If you take the time to read, remember, and follow these few tips, you will find that you will gain even more out of your student teaching!

Helpful Links to Start Your First Year:


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