10 Tips for Surviving Student Teaching

The big day is finally on the horizon for education majors. Your student teaching semester is almost here. Being a student teacher is truly a unique experience because you are both student and teacher at the same time. Use them survival tips from experienced teachers and mentors to not only survive but also thrive during your time as a student teacher.

Student teacher survival tips: 1.Clear your calendar before hand as much as possible.

Being a student teacher is very much like having a full time job. Try to schedule as many appointments as possible prior to your student teaching experience. One day you’ll be a teacher and have to juggle it all but during this critical time for your future, make it a little easier on yourself by scheduling everything from hair cuts and dentist appointments to oil changes before your semester begins.

Student teacher survival tips: 2. Start and stay on a regular sleep schedule.

You know how important it is for your students to get a good night’s sleep, right? The same goes for you. Aim for eight hours of rest night each night. Determine a bedtime based on your morning schedule and stick to it.

Student teacher survival tips: 3. Learn to pack healthy lunches.

Along with getting a good night’s rest, you’ll want to have the most optimum diet as well. Student teaching requires a lot of work both mentally and physically. You’ll want to feed your immune system well as your going to be around lots of new germs and viruses in a school system. Get used to packing a healthy school lunch the night before.

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Student teaching survival tips: 4. Organize your wardrobe.

You may have been able to slide into college classes wearing something just a step up from pajamas but you’ll need a semi-casual but professional wardrobe for student teaching. Go through your closet and group potential teacher outfits together down to scarves, ties and shoes so you don’t have to reinvent the fashion wheel every morning.

Student teaching survival tips: 5. Get the teacher bag.

Just like golfers, teachers will always need a bag. Go ahead and invest in the teacher bag that is going to accommodate everything from papers to be graded, to your laptop, office supplies and lunch so you don’t end up being multiple bag lady or man. You’ll see some teachers using bags with wheels and there’s a good reason for it.

Student teaching survival tips: 6. Get your family and friends on board with your schedule.

As a student teacher you basically have a full-time job and even more importantly you have internship that may well provide the most valuable references for you to secure a paid teaching position next year. Make sure your family and friends understand the serious investment you are making here. Parties, concerts, midnight food runs, late night chats or impromptu road trips may not have a place in your schedule from Sunday night until Friday afternoon.

Student teaching survival tips: 7. Ask questions but read these tips first.

As you’ve no doubt heard there are no dumb questions except the ones that you don’t ask when you don’t know the answer. You will have lots of questions. Use these tips to manage them. Read what everyone gives you from your professors, to your supervising teacher to the school principal. You don’t want to ask a question about your lunch break if it has been well explained in your welcome book. Also, keep a notebook of questions so that when the appropriate times comes you don’t forget what you need to ask. Lastly, schedule times with others to ask your questions. Don’t plan to do it while you’re supposed to be teaching and don’t expect everyone at the school to drop what they are doing when you’re free either. The teacher’s lounge at lunchtime can be a great place to glean answers.

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Student teaching survival tips: 8. Be humble.

Student teachers have lots of ideals and ideas. They have lots of energy and plans to the change the world, including the schools. This is all wonderful but remember as a student teacher you are a guest that hasn’t been hired in to make big changes yet. Those long time teachers that look tired and uninspired to you may still have a lot of wisdom that can be helpful to you. Listen to others. Compliment others. Accept compliments and criticism graciously.

Student teaching survival tips: Stock up on deodorant.

I turned to writer and former teacher Lisa Carey to see if there was anything missing from my tips for surviving student teaching.

“What will new student teachers need most Lisa?

“Deodorant. Seriously. After the first day of student teaching I knew two things. The first was that I loved teaching and the second was that I needed better deodorant to stand up in front of people and talk all day.”

Student teaching survival tips: 10. Set two alarm clock systems.

Whether it’s a digital clock, manual set alarm clock, phone alarm or trusted early bird, have an alarm system and then a back up alarm system. Walking into your student teaching internship late and saying that your alarm didn’t go off will be about as lame as saying the dog ate your alarm clock.

personal experience as a student teacher, teacher and mentor
telephone interview with Lisa Carey, 12-8-10