Hints and Tips for Student Teachers
Education students in universities near and far are faced with that exciting, yet daunting practicum letter. It’s the letter that tells you what school you will be attending as a student teacher, your supervising teacher’s name and often comes with a huge booklet of text about their expectations of you as a prac student going out into the real world.
What Should Student Teachers Prepare for their Practicum?
So, now what? Is this the time you go and buy all those necessary stationery items? Perhaps you need some new outfits? Or perhaps you are still concerned about an essay that is due in 24 hrs time that you have been procrastinating about for the last week…
Here are my top tips for prac teachers, coming from a trained teacher who has who has ‘been there done that’ and has also been a supervising teacher to five student teachers.
Student Teacher Practicum Folder
There is no such thing as being over-prepared, especially on prac. Get yourself a cheap ring binder folder that can be your bible during your time on prac.
Remember, prior preparation prevents poor performance!
What you put in it is entirely up to you…
But, here is one I prepared earlier!
Along with the university documents that may have been given to you prior to your practicum, I’ll give you an outline of templates and ideas that may assist you on this exciting journey.
A simple weekly timetable template can be used in a variety of ways including for your own planning, or just the general week and to note the way the classroom currently runs.
When it’s your time to teach, you will most likely be sticking with the same routines and procedures so as to not upset the flow of the classroom.
Take the initiative to ask what the weekly classroom timetable looks like and get to know what the class does during the different sessions throughout the day.
Here are some of the themed weekly timetable templates we have available for Teach Starter members to download:
Reflecting on each and every day, especially the days that you teach is crucial. It may be hard, when you get to the end of the day and you’re faced with the next day’s planning, to even think about reflecting on the day that was. However, if you have some easy templates printed ready to go. This will make your life a lot easier!
You can create your very own daily self-reflection for student teachers template by using the editable Microsoft Word version of our End of Year Mindful Self Reflection for Teachers editable template.
Observe, Observe, Observe
I’m sure I don’t have to tell you about the importance of observations in the teaching profession. During your practicum, observing students is just as important as planning a fantastic ‘hook’ to your lesson. There are a few things you can get organized to ensure that you get those all important observations.
Carry around some trusty post-its! Attach them to your folder or put them in your pocket. You will often be on the run when you observe a child’s success or a chance to improve a student’s learning.
Grab out a pen and your post-it notes to jot down what you observed. You can then transfer it to your observation book or template that afternoon.
In your folder have an exercise book specifically for observations. You may like to use our Student Observation Template to monitor student progress in the classroom as well.
Get to Know the Students
During my practicum, I needed to do case studies on particular students. I found this extremely helpful to follow their learning journey.
Although, I didn’t quite know how to start creating student case studies at the beginning, having a few of these Student Profile templates would be the perfect start.
You may also like to add our Professional Development Log for Teachers template into your folder to log any professional development you may attend during your practicum.
Meet with your Supervising Teacher
Ensure you make contact with your supervising teacher as soon as possible after finding out where you are doing your practice teaching. Developing that important professional relationship can make or break your prac!
You will most likely be provided with their work email address, so send them a professionally worded email expressing your enthusiasm about doing your practicum in their classroom. Ask for a suitable time for you to go in and meet with them, and possibly the students, before your official prac begins. This will alleviate some of your nerves on the first day of your prac.
Here are some questions and points you may like to ask your supervising teacher:
- What is your behavior management process?
- Are there any special needs students that I need to be aware of?
- Hints and tips for what works for them in the classroom at the moment.
- What are your expectations of me as the student teacher?
- Ask about school timetables and any policies and procedures you may need to know about.
- Talk about your passions and your strengths. If you love science – tell your supervising teacher!
- Ask if there is a couple of times you could go in and observe your supervising teaching before your prac starts. Express that you want to learn from them!
- Listen! You may be a bit nervous meeting your supervising teacher for the first time, but just take some time to listen to what they have to say as well.
Introduce Yourself to Parents
You are going to be spending a lot of time with the children in your class. Sending a note home to the parents is a nice touch and doesn’t take too long.
You may like to use our editable Meet the Teacher template for this.
Having a connection and communicating with parents is an essential element of your practicum experience.
Consider Your Wardrobe
Dressing appropriately for your practicum! It is something so simple but speaks volumes. There are a few rules that I would say:
- Aim for Smart Casual.
- Don’t wear jeans.
- Do a test run! Can you sit on the floor comfortably with your legs crossed?
- Don’t wear thongs, try for closed in shoes.
- Don’t stress if you are overdressed!
I would suggest getting your outfits out ready for the week on a Sunday, so you don’t have to stress about that in the mornings.
View this post on Instagram
Outfits for week 2 ready to go! Even if I've had a terrible week, being able to just have some quiet time to sort out my outfits for the week is quite therapeutic! Left to Right: 1. @targetaus navy pencil dress and @ariaandharper 'Vogue' lanyard 2. @jacquieofficial floral dress and @ariaandharper 'Black/white, grey & copper' lanyard 3. @princesshighwayclothing checkered dress and @ariaandharper 'Scandi' lanyard 4. @stfrock Shire dress and @by.arlo lanyard 5. @portmans_ white frill sleeve shirt, @portmans_ pencil skirt and @ariaandharper 'Alaska' lanyard . Sorry, I forgot to add my shoes in this photos after some requests last week… I'll either try to take a photo each day for my IG stories or start adding shoes in my outfit photos next week ? . . . #teachersofinstagram #teachersfollowteachers #teacherlife #teacher #teachers #aussieteachers #aussieteachertribe #aussieteachersofinstagram #victeach #victeachers #teachvic #melbourneteachers #melbourneteachertribe #whatteacherswear #teacherfashion #teacherclothes #teacheroutfits #whatteacherswear #womensfashion #wardrobeplanning #princesshighwayclothing #princesshighway #portmans #target #targetfashion #jacquieclothing #stfrock #stfrockshiredress
Don’t Wear a Cap
Caps are not ok! They are not ok to wear in the classroom and they are not suitable when on playground duty.
We speak about sun safety with the children, so we need to be role models, wide brim hats are a must.
It’s ok – you can buy funky wide brim hats – I promise!
During your practicum, show initiative.
If you notice a student not paying attention, or struggling with a task and your supervising teacher is busy with another student, go up and help that student. I promise you, this is not stepping on your supervising teacher’s toes. They want you to show initiative and help out around the classroom as much as you can.
Offer to mark the pile of books on their desk, or to run up and do a last minute photocopy run!
After you have found out what year level you’ll be on. Why not do some research for some really engaging different resources that you may be able to utilise during your practicum.
As long as your supervising teacher is happy you could introduce a few fun classroom management resource such as our Attention Grabbing Phrase cards.
Yes, Yes, Yes!
Say yes to everything, even ask to do additional school-related activities.
Is there a camp while you are at the school? Ask to go. What about a school disco? Offer to help set up.
You are there to really get into the school spirit, show initiative and do as much as you can!
Remember, you are there to learn and get experience. For me, my practicums were where I learnt to become a teacher far more than sitting in a lecture theatre! If you feel comfortable, offer to teach above and beyond what is expected of you.
Finally, some lessons or observations may not go to plan. That’s ok! Even experienced teachers have lessons or even whole days where everything doesn’t quite go according to plan. Reflect and remember the next day is a new day!