This week, most schools have flung their doors open wide to welcome back teachers, students, and faculty staff ready to embrace a new and exciting school year. My 10-year-old stepson officially completed his first full day of middle school yesterday and labeled his experience as “pure awesomeness”. I too started my middle-level education graduate course, which interestingly is being taught by my stepson’s former principal. I think the motto for this new school year just may be, “Awesomeness Awaits You.”
A college friend of mine is also starting her student-teaching field experience this week, which prompted this blog post. She contacted me to ask for friendly advice, and I immediately rattled off a checklist of Do’s and Don’ts that I picked up from my own field experiences. It wasn’t until afterwards that I started to reflect on my advice. How could I condense all the bullet points into what I think is most important for pre-service teachers to know? If I had to boil it down, I think I would keep it to the following:
When you walk through that classroom door on your first day, an amazing transformation occurs. You become more than a student merely observing and interacting with students and your cooperative teacher. You become a professional who is starting to build a strong foundation for your educational career. Professionalism involves the appropriate physical appearance; a consistent set of ethical behaviors; clear, high, and realistic expectations for yourself and others; and an optimistic and positive attitude.
“Act as if you are as you desire to be, and you will be; develop the consciousness, attitude, talents, and behavior you desire to manifest.” -T. C. Whitaker. In short, leave behind your student mindset and be the professional. These are critical ingredients for starting your pre-service experience on the right foot and most importantly, for building a good foundation for your career.
Playground for Learning
Aside from cultivating these important skills, consider your pre-service experiences as a large playground for learning. Failure is also an important ingredient for a successful pre-service experience, so don’t expect to get everything right on the first try. Learn to accept mistakes as opportunities for reflection and improvement.
The purpose of practica and student teaching is to provide you with a safe outlet to explore different issues related to education and to experiment with different ideologies, strategies, techniques, and methods. Use this opportunity to find and hone your teaching identity. Work on building your knowledge- and experience-bases, and then continually strive to explore, experiment, reflect, advance, and improve your teaching philosophy, practice, and skill-sets.
My reflections also prompted me to take out my old binders from practica and student-teaching, and I took a trip down Memory Lane with my old journals collecting handwritten notes and tips that I could use to share with my friend. I typed most of them up in a Preservice Tips wikipage to include in my portfolio and share with the New Teacher Chat wikispace. The page is pretty much still in its editing stages, but I think my friend and other future pre-service teachers will benefit from it.
Please feel free to pass the link around to those who may need it and also add your teaching tips for preservice/new teacher development to the New Teacher Chat Wallwisher. It has a great collection of advice shared by a wonderful PLN. I know that my friend will be well-prepared for the new school year, and that she too will find that awesomeness awaits her.
I like the Jimmy Dean sun/orbit commercial and this post reminds me a little of it, so I’ll share and embed it here for a little humor and inspiration:
Planet: “I feel awesome.” Sun: “You’re ALL awesome.” (Gotta love that!)
Happy New School Year to all my teaching friends! Best wishes for a great new school year! Awesomeness awaits you.