I’ve found a few that are new (to me) and seem fun:
- The teacher assigns three topics (ex: subject in school, singer/band, type of drink) and has every student write down their favorite things in each on an index card. Collect the answers. Teacher picks a card at random, reads the answers out loud, and has three guesses to pick the student. After that, the students can raise their hands and guess which peer it describes. (opt out option: draw a star on your card?)
- Write a paragraph on the board which has some blank spaces for the students to fill in. For example, a paragraph may start as followed: “This school year I will be more_______, by _________. In the past I have __________, which has _________ me from __________. I want to become a _________ student…, etc.” Read the paragraph first to break the ice and then have students volunteer to read their own.
- Start off the year with a letter of introduction to students. They like to learn about their teachers, so tell them a little bit about yourself — what you like to do for fun, pets, children, etc. Then have them write a letter back to you (in the same format) regarding themselves and sharing some of the same type of information.
Got any good ones?
Hi. Welcome to the longest, yet simultaneously shortest three months of your life. I know it has taken a lot to get to this point, and you felt like you would never make it here. You’re probably excited, anxious, sad, happy, tired, and terrified out of your mind — which is completely normal. It’s hard to have that many conflicting emotions, but it is inevitable.
What can I tell you about student teaching? Since I’m only a little over halfway through the experience myself, I don’t know that it’s going to be that insightful. But I figured better to write this now than in the happy afterglow of April 19th. I felt like writing this now would make it more genuine. So here is what I want to tell you:
First and foremost: Be prepared to be on a roller coaster of emotions. There will be days that you spend where you are absolutely excited about everything — the kids, your lesson plans, your cooperating teacher, eating with the other teachers — but there are also days where all of these same things are going to make you sad/angry/anxious. And there is really no rhyme or reason to when you are going to feel these things. Sometimes you will run the whole gamut of emotions in one single day. Sometimes in ONE SINGLE MORNING. You WILL think you are crazy, but I promise you that you aren’t. Between being a brand new teacher with no real clue, class, quite possibly a part time job, and those things called family, friends, and significant others, student teaching puts quite the burden on your shoulders. So don’t be afraid if you don’t love it every single day. You won’t and probably shouldn’t.
Two: Something bad WILL happen. You might say the wrong thing to a student, or upset your cooperating teacher with something you said/did, or get into an accident on the way to school and total your car, or trip and fall in front of the whole class. And during this bad thing, you will probably have to take a moment to yourself and lock yourself in the staff bathroom and cry for a few minutes, or you will sneak away at lunch time and find a deserted classroom/hallway/corner and cry. But that is okay. Mistakes are mistakes. This experience is about learning. As long as you have enough grace (in some situations, you will need it quite literally) to admit when you are in the wrong, you will be fine. People tend to be forgiving, and that is one of the most beautiful things I have discovered through student teaching.
Three: This can be a painfully isolating experience at times. All of your friends in your major are going through the exact same thing as you, yet it is totally different. No one will have the same students, cooperating teacher, colleagues, problems, lunch times, or supervisors as you. And this will be hard. Because when you are all sitting in your once a month class together, you will want to relate and empathize, but will find that you can’t. And the other teachers in your school may be wonderful and kind and sympathetic, but you may feel really out of place there because you are an outsider. While everyone else has had months, maybe YEARS to bond with one another, you are sort of just being thrown into the situation and expected to make friends with them. And some of them just won’t have it. They don’t mean to exclude you, but they might. You will probably spend some lunch times alone in your classroom, and that can feel like the worst sort of lonely in the world.
Four: Contrary to the above point, you are NOT alone. Talk to your mother. Talk to your father. Talk to your sister and brother and cousins and your cousins’ friends. Talk to your friends and roommates and boyfriend/girlfriend. Talk to your professors and other people in your major. And don’t just talk about student teaching. Talk about other things: TV shows, books, what you did over the weekend. Student teaching is a major part of your life, but it’s not the only part of your life. Give yourself time to go out and do things you want to do. Those ungraded papers will still be waiting for you when you come back.
Five: You will love these kids more than you ever thought was possible. They will seriously fill up your heart. Sure, there will be times they will frustrate you beyond belief, but there will be so many more times when they’ll amaze and humble you. They will make you laugh, smile, and constantly surprise you (in the best ways). Remember that everything you are doing is for them.
Six: Even with all of the crap and the TPA and assessments, and criticism, I guarantee you that there will be at least one time during this experience where you will cry happy tears or be completely satisfied. It might come in the form of a pat on the back from your cooperating teacher for a good lesson, or a nice comment from your supervisor on your midterm evaluation, or a compliment from the principal on your teaching, or a small note left on your desk from a student. And suddenly, just like that, all of that sad, tired, loneliness will fade away and everything that has been not-so-great about this experience will not even matter. Everything you have gone through will be worth it. In times like these you may (as you did when something bad happened) cry in the staff bathroom or sit at your desk and boo-hoo a little. And that is a wonderful, happy, cathartic thing. It is an experience I hope all of you have.
I think any more of my rambling might be overkill. But the last thing I want you to know is that I wish ALL of these experiences (yes, even the negative) for every single one of you. That is the best advice I can give you. Oh, and one very last thing: You will be okay. I promise.
Been there, done that