Your time as a student teacher is your best and last chance to get real classroom experience before you take control of your very own classroom, so it’s one of the most important parts of your teacher training. Everyone’s experience is unique, but we want to give you an idea of what to expect: green flags, red flags, and tips to help make the most of your internship time. Our 3 guests are here to help demystify the student teaching process and give you insider advice that will help you make the most out of your internship.
You can find more information and expanded show notes at https://www.nea.org/becomeateacher
Hello, and welcome to School Me, the National Education Association's podcast dedicated to helping educators thrive in the early stages of their career. I'm your host Natieka Samuels.
And welcome to part two of our series, How to Become a Teacher. In this series, we explore the steps needed to turn your dream job into a reality. Maybe you're already in your university's teaching program, but there's some elements of the process that you haven't heard much about, or perhaps somebody who is considering becoming a teacher and you want to make sure they have the full view of what it really takes. Our goal, is to make sure that aspiring educators are empowered with information about the journey to teaching, so they can focus their energy on becoming the best educator they can be, not on administrative hurdles and pitfalls along the way.
Today, we're talking about the student teaching experience. Your time as a student teacher, is your best and last chance to get real classroom experience before you take control of your very own classroom. So it's one of the most important parts of your teacher training.
Everyone's experience is unique, but we wanted to give you an idea of what to expect. Green flags, red flags and tips to help you make the most of your internship time. Our three guests are here to help demystify the student teaching process and give you insider advice that will help you make the most of your time before you finally have a classroom of your own. Plus they'll show you what's really going on inside the head of the cooperating teachers you're assigned to. We have two cooperating teachers on this show today. Jeff Kabat is an IP Social Studies teacher in Michigan with nine years of experience in American public schools.
And Nicole Nelson is an instructional coach who in her 21 year career has taught almost every grade from kindergarten to eighth in Louisiana. We also have Amy Coria, a Minnesota high school Spanish teacher who is in her fourth year of teaching, to talk about her recent experiences as a student teacher and what it's been like having in her own classroom.
Once you're done listening to this episode, be sure to check out the show notes for our roundup of student teaching related resources on nea.org. We've got a lot of information to share here, so let's get right into it.
What is the process like usually when a college student gets assigned to you and go through that either internship or student teaching period, as they might call it, how does that go as they start out the semester, Jeff?
With our relationship with our local university in the summer or maybe late spring, I'll get an email from the point person there saying, "Are you interested in hosting student interns?" I reply and say, "Sure."
And then sometime in August, I will get an email that says, "Hey, thanks. Here are two or three names, we've put these two or three people in your class as observers for the first six weeks of the fall semester." I have no choice in that. They have no choice in that. It's a direct placement. And then it says, "They will reach out to you." A week before school starts, I get an email from some university students who say, "Hey, I'm going to be in your room. This will be our first day. Where do we park? What do we do? How do we do it?"
I communicate and say, "Here's the plan." They roll in, I see them two days a week for six or eight weeks. And the way they're set up, is they do six to eight weeks in my room for the first half of the fall semester, and then they go to another school. And while they're with me, there's another two or three people at that other school in that other room. And I will get them for the second half of that. For the second half they just reach out and say, "Hey, we're coming in October 30th, where do we go?" And that's for the observation stage, no input on either of our parts. We get placed together. During that fall semester, I will get another email saying, "Hey, are you interested in having a full on student teacher for second semester?" And I say, "Sure."
And at some point I will get an email that says, "Hey, we think candidate X would be perfect, we've attached a resume. If you think it might be a good fit, let us know. And we will have student X reach out to you to set up an interview." I will then get an email from student X saying, "Hi, I've been informed that we might be working together. What do we do?" And I invite them to come into my classroom so we can sit down and talk. Personal preference I ask them to come in before school starts, because I want to make sure that if they're someone who can get up at 7:00AM. We typically meet 30 minutes before students arrive. And I also tell them, I would love for them to stay for a couple hours into the school day to see a couple classes, hang out with us in my classroom. If they can't do that, I will ask them to come back before I commit to anything.
Because I want to see a potential student teacher with kids interacting, hanging out in our environment, making sure it feels good for everybody. In the event that it does. Then I will say, "Hey, I'm keen on having you in here if you're comfortable." They say, "Yes." We tell the university point person and we sign some document that says we've agreed to work together. On their end, I know it feels different. I don't know how it looks. But from experience, I know that when I first connect with that potential student X, they often feel like they've been placed with me and have no say in anything. And that's it. And I stress in our little 30 minute interview. I'm like, if anything feels like this might not be a good fit, the age group, the school, me, the classroom, you go tell this person and they'll find something that fits better. Nobody wants this experience going into it, feeling like this isn't the right place for me or this is going to be uncomfortable for whatever reasons.
And what are you looking for in a student teacher who comes into your classroom? So when you're thinking that it's a good fit, what defines a good fit for you?
Someone that wants to be there is super important. At one point I came to realize that I had to ask the question, do you want to be a teacher? I'm looking for the same things I would look for in a teacher. I think responsible, professional, flexible, comfortable with the students, comfortable with themselves and have the potential to not take anything personally because you can't do that and you want to be self conscious. Someone that I think is going to be able to be comfortable and be themselves or at least try to be themselves, make their best effort, work hard. Because it's hard work, mentally, emotionally, physically, whatever. Narrow it down to someone who wants to be a teacher, really that kind of captures it. When a teacher begins their first year in September with a new class, it's pretty common for a teacher to be worried about the content and the lesson planning and the order and the seating charts and getting names right.
And when's the lunch bell and all that sort of thing. And one thing that can be overlooked is classroom management and developing a classroom environment and community. Student teaching is the only time really that a teacher has to practice that stuff, in a low risk environment. That first day of school, that second day of school, that third day of school in September, if the environment and the management system and the expectations are not established in a way that a teacher wants. It's super, super, super hard to reel that back in and start over.
While I know student teachers may be nervous to be in front of a classroom or little anxiety or kind of like, "Oh, that's hard work. I'm just going to do the number of hours I have to do." I strongly encourage any student teacher to spend as much time in front of the kids leading the class.
We're not even in front, but working the class, running the class, operating the class. Because again, it's the only time you can practice that stuff. And if as a student teacher, I have some of that anxiety. I can only expect it in September in my own classroom that's going to be amped up. The way to get rid of that is to get more comfortable and to practice more and more and more and more and more. One of my biggest pieces of advice is spend as much time as allowable. As your mentor teacher will let you kind of run in the show.
Well, hopefully they've had some observations before. If they were in a particular program and you work with this school, they have been in your classroom either to just do some observations or some practice lessons, so they might have some familiarity. But if not, if they're new, you are told that you're getting a student teacher. You get to meet with a student teacher and then they're coming in, in the first part to just observe and take notes and have different things they're looking for. And just be more of, almost like a teacher assistant, so that they can learn and you can gradually release them into when it's their turn doing that part of the year, to take over as teacher. It's a gradual release into I'm doing, you're watching, we're doing together. And then now it's your turn. I'm going to sit back here and I'm going to watch. I'll help if I need to. But I'm going to watch and observe and give you feedback and support as you need it.
How about you, Amy? I just want to hear like what the student teaching experience was like, just logistically, when did you start that within your program? How did it go? How many placements did you have? What were the cooperating teachers like that you were working with?
This is something that I love the education program, that I was in from my university just because they do give you so many experiences to be in the classroom as your first year in the program. Even the year before that you are actually placed in a classroom, if you just take an education class. Then every semester, it's a different placement, up until you get to your senior year where you do a little bit of a longer placement, which is considered your typical student teaching experience at every university or education program has.
What I really enjoyed about it is, because it gave you so many opportunities to see all the different teaching styles and different approaches to classroom management activities. So it just gives you a little bit more broader view on teaching instead of just having that senior year, one teacher for student teaching I got to see different subjects being taught because my degree is in elementary education.
I saw elementary classrooms, I was able to teach in elementary classrooms. I was able to teach in middle school classrooms all the way up to high school. So such a difference in teaching in elementary to high school. But then there's so many things that still overlap within those, which we don't tend to think about because we have these separate programs for elementary education and secondary education. When in reality, there's so much to gain from both because I think often, especially in high school, we forget that they're still kids. Having that aspect of allowing them to play games, it's still with learning behind it, but they want to be kids. So I was just able to see so many different teaching styles, some that I may have loved and there was some experiences where I wasn't comfortable being in space. Because maybe I didn't like the way the teacher was doing something. Still using that as a learning experience to be like, "That's something that I will not do in my classroom."
Versus instead of saying, "I'm just going to get out of this space." It's observing how the students react to it. And maybe it worked for that teacher, but not everything that works for one teacher is going to work for every teacher. And I've had great mentor teachers that I still talk to, to this day. I still ask them for resources, just to check in on them. You create really good friendships and mentors through having so many student teaching placements, having so many different practices in a classroom. That I think a lot of schools should adapt that same mentality of being able to place students in these classrooms as much as possible, because it only makes you more comfortable in that space once you do have your own classroom.
What's something you wish that you had seen or learned when you were in the preparations to become a teacher yourself, Nicole?
New teachers need to see every aspect of teaching. They need to see their preparation, the lesson, what I do in the middle of a lesson at the end of a lesson, after a lesson, after a lesson is gone right or wrong, how do I pivot? How do I communicate with parents? How do I even communicate with other people on my team or in my school or my building that may be way older than me or maybe from another background? How do I build that bond with that working relationship with them?
I think an aspect that I wish that I would have got was, we walk into these classrooms where there's already relationships built with their teacher. They already have certain things that the students know what to do. That they have these routines built and that's something that I just wasn't ready for. I know when I had my classroom where these kids are coming in and I'm like, "why aren't they doing what they're supposed to be doing?" Well, they don't have those expectations preset. You have to create those relationships for them to be willing to do those types of activities. I think that's something that we tend to overthink. We always say, "Okay, you have to have expectations, you have to have your rules set." But it goes a little bit beyond that where you also have to consider what they were used to before you and how that plays into your classroom as well.
Not everybody is on the same page and sometimes I think we forget about that. Not every student came from the same elementary school, not every student came from the same classroom. So what was okay in one person's classroom may not have been okay in another person's classroom. Then they come into your space and you're setting a whole different set of rules, which is hard for them to adapt to. So I wish, I would've liked to see that to a longer extent. I did get a placement where I was in a classroom at the beginning of the year. But I was a short term, I think it was two weeks, one week before school started and then one week with the kids. But I think it takes a little bit longer than a week to see it with the kids play out. I think that's a big thing that I wish my program would've prepared you for, or just even how to create those relationships with kids. That's something that you have to figure out on your own.
What are some of the common issues that you see student teachers struggling with when they come to you, Jeff?
Fear of being in front of a room of 30 kids and being responsible. Totally natural, same thing I had even though I had years of experience. Fear of being able to manage a classroom of 30 kids. I guess classroom management is really the biggest pre-student teaching anxiety that I think people have. At least this is at the middle school level. Now being in front of and in control of an audience who may or may not want to be there and doesn't really know you or have a relationship yet. That's probably the primary anxiety.
They have a jour idea because they've been working with students, they have that love and that passion for them. But just maybe that real relating of seeing the real deal that some students are struggling in some areas I never thought, "Oh my God." How do I handle these students? How do I work with this student who's had a lot of trauma in their background, a lot of triggers. And I don't really know how to deal with it because I may be having my own traumas and triggers I'm dealing with. Or being careful of what I say, just because I was raised a certain way or I was taught a certain way or in a certain environment doesn't mean those children came from that environment and doesn't make it wrong or right, it's different.
And so understanding that they're coming from diverse backgrounds, diverse environments. And what we may look at as disrespectful, that may be common. So we have to find a way to, without disrespecting their home life, to still teach them that this is how we at here. This is our environment here. We come here this is what we work with. Without making them feel bad about where they're coming from. So just those general things like that. It's starting to turn now, but I don't think we have a lot of practice and support in work in those areas.
This is switching gears a little bit, but depending on the student teacher and the school that they're assigned to. This theoretical aspiring educator might not look like the student population that they're assigned to. And given their age, they may have never just been around this many people of one socioeconomic status, race, culture. How should they start to prepare for that element of the learning process, so they can stay mindful of their biases and minimize harm, Nicole?
Well, be honest and upfront. I believe in that and say, just being open to let people know, "Hey, now you're working with all of these children from this background." Or "You're working with all of these brown children and it's going to be a little different," and asking those questions. "Have you ever worked with a group of children with this type of group? Have you ever worked with this many children in this area or from this environment?" Just asking those questions and not being afraid because things are going to pop up. And if we don't handle them, prepare for them upfront, that's going to be a problem.
Also asking those people in the building who... Building those relationship and teaming those student teachers up with other people in the building who look like them and had some of the same struggles. And then getting them with the counselor, giving them the support they need and even giving them things like different books and different readings, different articles. To kind of inundate them on different things they might come in contact with. But I just feel like being very honest and open at the beginning and just laying it all on the table, is one of the biggest things because that teacher hopefully, will feel free to come to you and say, "I'm having this problem. I'm not reaching them or I don't know what to do." And so you got to open up that line of communication for that relationship to work.
Yeah. I think this is kind of a difficult question to answer just because everybody may not be aware of their biases that they have. And it's a hard thing to come to terms with the fact that we all do have biases, but we all need to realize that. I think really getting into, looking into the school, what it looks like, and not even just the school, but the community that surrounds it.
One thing that I really enjoy that our school district did for us was our first day training, they actually took us on a bus and drove us through the community that our school service. So you are seeing where your students live. You're seeing where your students shop. You're seeing all where their parents work. And that's something that I think if your school doesn't do that for you need to take that onto yourself because you may not live in that community.
But you are part of that community now, you spend a majority of your day there, you spend so much of your time with so many members that do live in that community. So I think really going into those spaces, going to the stores that your students go to, going to even different activities that your students participate in. If they invite you to their quinceaneras, you go to their quinceaneras. It's just a nice way to see what that place is really about. And in terms of student programs, how to prepare for that, if you're I think really sitting down with yourself and realizing what your biases are, maybe reflecting on your own experience growing up, what did your classroom look like? And how made this classroom look different? What resources did you have and what resources they may or may not have?
So just really sitting back and reflecting on your own experience. But if you have the opportunity, I think the best way is to definitely go into the communities. And even if you don't know your students then, just go into those spaces of those stores. Those hotspots in the community where everybody's at. Those are the places you want to be, to really understand the people there. You will never fully understand it, but it gets you a little bit more knowledge on the type of students you're going to teach, or who's going to be in your classroom.
I'm going to assume if this socio-economic demographic of the building is unfamiliar than the classroom itself certainly would be as well. And I'm going to encourage that potential educator to... I'm going to say that potential educator will become comfortable in the classroom given time and experience with the same group of students over X number of days. It may be three days, it maybe 30 days, but if the whole experience is going well, then they're going to develop a sense of comfort in the littler community of the classroom.
So one route would be say, once you're there, move yourself out to the hallway during passing time, once that's comfortable move yourself steps, but it's also a three or four month experience. Another school of thought might be when you just felt up comfort in the classroom, realize the whole school community is just like that. This classroom's a microcosm of that. So throw yourself out there. Or once you've developed a comfortable relationship with a handful of students, maybe ask them to... If you can hang out with them at lunch or if they can, whatever, and just get out there that way. That would be hard situation.
Thanks for listening to School Me and a quick thank you to all of the NEA members listening. If you're not an NEA member yet, visit nea.org/whyjoin to learn more about member benefits? One of the things that is inherent to the experience, is being observed. And I think a lot of people feel uncomfortable being observed. How do you help them get over the fear of, or even embrace the experience of being observed, Nicole?
Observing them always. If they're getting used to always getting feedback. And I think that's very crucial, making sure that you're reflecting with them and giving them feedback and having them to self reflect. And that's key reflecting with them, sit down together and do like a think tank. And what happened today? "What did you notice about this lesson today? What did you notice? What went well? What didn't go well, what would you do differently?"
If they get on that consistent reflection themselves, and they get used to doing it with you. They see you kind of like the observer. Then it's not going to be as intimidating if someone from the outside comes in and observe, because they're used to doing it. They're used to reflecting and making changes and then they're going to grow automatically. So I just believe thinking out loud with them, doing the reflection piece from the beginning to the end, always, it has to be consistent. And I know sometimes you can it all the time, but it has to be consistent for it to just become a way of life for them.
How about you, Jeff?
I think the first time one's being observed, I don't know if that's possible. I think it's going to be there. And I think what happens after that, actually has much more to do with the observer and how they deliver their observations, than it does to anything else. I think that kind of falls on the administrator or the field instructor or whoever is doing the observing and the relationship between the observee and that person.
For a student teacher to try to temper their anxiety. I would maybe suggest that they realize and think about and recognize that this is practice and no one's expecting things to go perfectly. And they are going to learn from all comments positive and critical. And that's what it's all about. I have not done this consciously, but maybe it helps. At some point every day, my student teachers and I will find a little bit of time to talk about what we observed and for the first few weeks of student teaching, I put together a list of identified observable actions or things like teacher language, teacher movement, student interaction, instructions.
So it's not just like, "Oh, everything looked good." It's like, "Today, this is what I want you to focus on in the first hour." Whether they're observing me or I'm observing them, whatever, depending on who's teaching. And then we debrief that briefly. They know somebody's watching something specific by the time their university field instructor comes in, it's like, "Hey, it's just someone else watching." But I don't know if that's a real thing. I'm just making that up maybe.
I think it's good advice. How did you get used to the idea of being observed both when you were student teaching and you're being observed by your cooperating teacher and then now being an early career educator being observed in your real life classroom? Amy?
It's an intimidating process. It is. It was intimidating when I did it as a student teacher. And it's still intimidating when I get observed to this day. But I think what I had to come to terms with, is that you're getting observed every single day by 30 plus sets of eyes. Right?
You have your students who are judging everything you're doing. And they are going to be the most honest opinions that you will get. So using that to your advantage. If your student is telling you, "This lesson is so boring." It's okay. It's okay, and you don't have to feel bad about it. You're just going to be like, "Yeah, it was kind of boring today. So we're just going to fix it for the next time around." So use your students as they're your best critic. They see your teaching on a day to day basis. You have your principal come in, you have administrators come in, but they see you one day out of the year that you teach, your students see you on a daily basis. So using their critique to better it for when your principal comes in, when your administration comes in.
What do you think are some of the hallmarks of a good education program or good student teaching program? Nicole?
That the student teachers get to see within their course of their student life, that they get to see all level, all aspects, all types of schools. I don't think it should be just one type of school or one class that they're in. I think they should see your schools that are inter-racially mixed, or schools that are maybe a majority type of school. The schools that are profession development schools. Schools that they need to see every, and every... At the beginning of the year, they need to see teachers planning in the summer. They need to see real life of teachers, what they're doing and after school things and family nights and everything, because a lot of them, they're kind of unaware of what's all expected as an educator when they get into the actual work of it.
"Oh, we got to do this. Oh, I have to come back. Oh, I have to stay after school. I have to come use myself that I was off for the summer?" They need to see every aspect. These children are in foster care. You know, just the different backgrounds. These children are coming from a homeless shelter. So that I'm not just working with children who look like me. I'm not just working with children who come from experiences, I'm working with every type of background so that I won't be bum-rushed when it's my time to get in front of those students. Even though it's with a student teacher or not, I won't be bum-rushed by the different nuances that come with education. So I think they need to see everything. What we do with student teachers right before they go in, it should happen from the day they start. They should be seeing everything all throughout their career as a student.
I think one of the big things that I always looked for and even my kids will tell you that they know that I'm very aware of their social-emotional learning. So teachers that validate that kids have it hard as well. I think a lot of times I've heard multiple teachers say, "They're just kids. It only gets harder. What are they crying about?" And I think that is a red flag when it comes to teachers being your mentors saying that because their problems are the biggest problems in their world and that's fine. And they need to figure out how to deal with them. And we're there to help them how to deal with those types of things. So I think teachers that are very aware of social-emotional learning, or even just recognize the fact that maybe they need to improve on it, because teaching is changing on doing those types of things.
I think exposure to a wide variety of real learning environments, that can mean being placed in classrooms from the first semester, even for a little bit, but exposure to real teaching from as early as possible and in as much variety as possible. And by variety, not just grade level, but demographic areas or demographics of schools and school sizes. I think of the program we work with and I know that the university people who our students work most closely with are the field instructors and a program that offers field instructors who have recent real teaching experience in the kinds of schools and environments they will be doing student teaching or observing in is super helpful. I know that when our student teachers, field instructors are out of a couple of years out of the classroom, you can tell they were strong, positive, successful teachers.
It's really good vibe between all of us in sharing and improving and giving tips and that sort of thing. I don't think I've experienced this, but I know of some programs where the field instructors are 10 years retired and maybe more of an old school type teacher at the time they were in their classroom. And so looking at the faculty of the university that will work day to day with the student teacher is an important thing to look at. If they have real world recent experience, I think that's a green flag.
Aside from the basics of what you're asked to do as a student teacher. What do you suggest other aspiring educators try to do during their assignment to get the most out of each placement they should experience? Amy?
First, I'm going to say this and... But don't be scared to say no because you will be overwhelmed during your student placement. I will forever say do not be scared to say no, but I think if you would like to get involved in things after school like with clubs, maybe not taking on the whole club, but asking a teacher if they need additional help. So that way you're kind of getting that experience, but not overwhelming yourself beyond what you're capable of or beyond what you're even familiar with, because it may be a club that you've never thought about or even know how it's run. So it's nice to see a mentor teacher again in that space do it. And you just help along, up until you feel comfortable to, "I think once I start teaching, I'll start doing this club." I think that would help out a lot, but not drowning yourself during student teaching.
Because I will say student teaching is stressful and it's a hard time where you already feel overwhelmed with all the assignments you have to do. So I don't want people to get discouraged from teaching and think that, "I'm this overwhelmed all the time and I have to do clubs after that." It's okay to say no, but it's also okay to ask for some help. So if you don't want to run the club by yourself, ask a teacher, "Did you want to co-sponsor this club with me?"
Which is what I'm currently doing here at with our bilingual club actually. So I co-sponsor with the teacher because we're both very busy people, but it breaks down the work a little bit and I get to see how she does things. We get to build on each other's ideas. So I think that's a good way to go about it. But again, just attending students' things is after school or games, that way it's not really a commitment to that same extent weekly meetings, but it's just, "Oh, there's a basketball game Friday. I'll go to that for 30 minutes just to see my students outside of the classroom."
How about you Nicole?
At the beginning, going volunteer at some different programs within the school, maybe some field days, maybe some after school functions, some family nights, get with the school, talk with the leaders. And I think the colleges should help with this to be on the volunteer list with that school so that you can come and work with different teachers, not the same teacher, but maybe a week here with a new teacher that's new. That's kind of like them what they're going to be soon. So they get a chance to work with a new teacher, just observing and seeing, and at the same time work with the more seasoned teacher and then they also need to see things like parent meetings. And I know some things are personal or private, but if they're working with that teacher or if they have a teacher that they're assigned to throughout their college life. When they come in, those parents would know that this is a student teacher, this is an assistant.
Why do we want to wait to, "It's time for me to be a teacher to my student teacher experience," to get all of this I mean, I need to see how parent meetings are done even at the beginning. Because it's going to affect my learning throughout. What I'm doing throughout those years, of those four years or however many years it takes. So go ahead and let them see all of those different aspects at the beginning when they're coming in as freshman, or when they're first in their education courses, they need to see some of those things and just volunteer with some schools and become known at this school because you get brought in to what's going on.
Both for personal reasons and potential future professional reasons, try to become as immersed in the school community as possible. It's easy to kind of keep yourself in the classroom you work in and become very involved and active with the students and the classwork and all that. As satisfying as that is, there's 30 other classrooms doing that. And there's hallways leading to all those and there's administration, there's a lunchroom. Just spend a couple of lunches with the kids, walk the halls a little bit when you're not leading the class so you can see in other classrooms.
Develop some relationships with other teachers in the building and ask if you can watch their class now and again, or at least a bit of this and a bit of that. Be in the hall in the pasting times so you see the kids when they're laughing with their friends that you don't see them with because they're in different classes or different grades or whatever. Go to a basketball game, immerse yourself in the school community. A, you're going to learn a lot about how schools work. B, it's going to be a lot more fun. C, it might lead to a job offer if you get your resume in front of an administrator at that building,
What do you think that cooperating teachers gain from their student teachers in return? Nicole?
Growth because, we haven't been a new teacher for a while. It's some new things that's coming down the pipeline. It's some new strategies, it's some new ideas just from these people themselves. These new creative people are coming into this. And some of them are coming from outside of education so they have different perspectives. So there's new ways of doing things. They know new things that we didn't know. So listening to them, learn from them as well. It's a highway because it's back and forth. You're learning from them and they're learning from you. And even if it's something that they're having a issue with within that classroom, it's going to tell you as a cooperate teacher, "I could better do this."
Or maybe, "I need to even think about tweaking this or changing this." It's shining that mirror up at that cooperate rating teacher. But at the same time, you're learning ideas from them. And you're also sharing what has worked for you. So you're giving them something, it's mutual. And that's what I think we need to learn. "I'm learning as well. I'm here to share what I can do and what I've learned over the years to help you, what has worked." And at the same time, "I want to learn some of these new innovative things that you have." And so if you have an idea, being open to their ideas and trying new things as well.
Jeff, what do you wish that you had known or been told when you were first starting out teaching?
Much like it's important for student teachers to realize that a potential placement is not a lock. And if they see red flags, there's room to negotiate or ask for an alternative placement. When offered a job by a school district and placed at a certain salary step or level, in today's environment, there is most definitely room for negotiation there as well. And that's an important thing to know, because in many school districts, once you're locked in, there's no individual negotiation, it's step, step, step it's a bigger issue than any individual. So a rising teacher taking a new job should know that it never hurts to ask.
Negotiate early. Nicole?
You never arrive. You're always going to grow. It's a progression. We try to be our best. And you should try to be your best. That's every day you always want to be better and work towards being your best. But perfection is not going to happen. You want to work towards excellence in all that you do, but there's no such thing as perfection. So give yourself some grace. We working, with depends on what classroom you're in. If you're working at a school where you have different blocks or different section, you might have 120 students. 120 little lives that you're touching. But if you're working is one class, you have maybe 27 lives that you're touching. So give yourself some grace that same grace you're going to give to those students, because you are, give yourself that same grace, talk to yourself like that and motivate yourself. And take care of you, because if you're not full, you can't take care of those students.
Excellent advice. Amy?
You can never truly prepare for anything. I think if anything the pandemic taught that to a lot of teachers especially teachers who've been teaching for years. So you have to just consistently be learning with your career. It's ever changing or the technology, the curriculum consistently changes. And what you're learning in your education program right now may be what works for right now. But in the following year, it may not and it's okay to change what your education program should be preparing you for, is for adaptability to those situations.
And it's okay to not have the perfect lesson plan because your lesson plan might change 10 minutes before you start. So having that adaptability in the classroom and growing along with your profession and never stop growing with your profession, because once you stop, then you become that teacher that you're just lecturing and the kids are like, "I don't want to go to that class." You have to constantly evolve with the students, evolve with what's going on around them. And just being able to adjust the ways that you teach. Your teaching should not stay the same year to year. And I know mine has changed significantly throughout the first four years that I've been teaching.
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