What is the magic formula then to go from an inexperienced pre-service teacher to a wily veteran? It boils down to 7 things.
1. Learn by doing. We all remember that assignment in school where we actually did something useful and perhaps tangible. I remember mine, do you? I learned by doing and that’s the key to success both as a student as well as a teacher. As a pre-service teacher you need to get right in there, experience what it’s like to be a teacher. TEACH! I was in a department a few years back and one of my colleagues got a new student teacher. Now my colleague didn’t want to pressure this young woman and the young woman was afraid of jumping in with two feet. She wanted to observe and so she did, for three weeks! There’s a time for watching and a time for doing. Spend a day observing and then just do it. Make your own lessons (but make sure you run them by your mentor first until you are both comfortable). Make your own quizzes and tests. Jump in with two feet, the waters fine.
2. Work closely with your mentor teacher. At the start of your practicum, you should be reviewing each lesson and assessment with them to ensure you are meeting certain standards. But aside from that, your mentor teacher has experience and experience is so important in teaching. In fact it takes experience to fully understanding just how important experience is.
3. Try stuff! I apologise for being so eloquent but it’s the truth, you need to keep trying new things. If you have a great idea run it by your mentor teacher. If you’ve been given free reign, give it a go. Some of the best things I’ve done in my classroom have been things I either thought about that day or on the spot. Worst-case scenario, it doesn’t work but at least you’ve tried. You will never do anything great unless you try.
4. Reflect, Reflect and Reflect. Once that is done, reflect again. Think about everything you messed up, why it didn’t work and what you could have done differently. Did your lesson end early and you didn’t have anything to fill the remaining time? Did you students have a poor behaviour day, which you couldn’t get under control? Also, you need to think about what went well, why it went well and what you could do next time to do it even better.
5. Videotape your lessons. Like analyzing your golf swing, videotaping is the only way to truly see the way you deliver your content and interact with your students. If you are bored while watching, chances are they are too but to a greater extent.
6. Be Prepared. Make sure you know your content. It’s very easy to think you know everything after leaving University. I thought I did. I remember one particular incident when I was teaching chemistry and when I started talking about bond types, I stated that molecular bonds were stronger than ionic bonds which they aren’t. In fact it is quite the opposite. I looked like a fool when my less than tactful mentor teacher pointed this out in front of my class. On top of that, knowing your stuff allows you to seem confident and confidence is half the battle. Know what you’re teaching!
7. Remember, everyday is a new beginning. If you struggled with something yesterday, you have the opportunity to learn from it and grow. Your first year teaching is when you will be tested emotionally, physically, and mentally. If you have a bad day, reflect on it then forget it and move on. Remember, the sun will come out tomorrow no matter how well or poorly your day went.
Would you like three engaging activities specifically designed for the subject(s) you teach?
Your students will love them!