Student teaching, or the well-known internship for aspiring educators, comes at the conclusion of many education degree programs. It’s your opportunity to apply all you’ve learned and get ready to lead a classroom for the first time. It probably feels a little daunting at the start, but rest assured, there are some simple tips you can keep in mind to make the most of your time as a student teacher.
Cling to your mentor.
You’ve been assigned an experienced educator who has proven they have something special to offer the field. Their positive influence is why they were selected to mentor you. Now, I won’t say that every mentor partnership is perfect but, anecdotally, I hope everyone gets a Mary Jo, the mentor whose impact has stayed with me nearly 20 years later. I still lean into her words, poise and passion for educating. That being said, every interaction can teach you something, and recognizing this builds your capacity to work with individuals with different styles.
Ask for feedback.
Your program will likely have an evaluative process but standout educators go beyond that. Ask to be formally observed by the principal or another administrator. All feedback is good feedback when you’re refining your craft. It’s also a great chance to get experience with people who have hiring abilities and to get comfortable with being observed and evaluated. Plus, the extra observation you request is a great addition to your portfolio when you start applying for positions after graduation.
Choose great references.
Identify at least two people who can write you a meaningful recommendation and, most importantly, ask while you’re working with them, so your experience is fresh in their minds. Principals, supervisors and mentoring teachers are a great start. While your resume is something a future employer will glance over, it’s these references that help them make decisions. Choose individuals who can speak highly of you and will vouch for you when it comes to the landing the job of your dreams.
You may have aced every class or even graduated as a valedictorian, but the learning is just beginning! No course or textbook can fully prepare you for the big world of education, so you must stay humble in your internship knowing that there are many things you’ll learn through experience. Remember what you learned in your coursework and capitalize on it by asking questions, trying the techniques and evaluating if they worked, but also remember that your internship will most likely be the most helpful preparation.
An internship is so much more than the end of your teacher preparation – it’s the beginning of who you are as an educator. Use these tips and make the most of your time as a student teacher. You’ve got this.
Ready to become an educator? American College of Education can get you there with our education programs expanding from single courses, micro-credentials, certificates, master’s and doctoral degrees.