I have a confession to make: I am someone who tends to reflect on the negative situations that occur before appreciating the positive lessons I’ve gained. I find that from negative experiences come valuable learning opportunities, that is, once you have deciphered them from the muddy situation at hand. I found this to be something I did often during my first student teaching experience… Why did that lesson not go the way I had planned? Why did that student talk to me the way they did? Why didn’t everyone finish their project today? These were all questions I pondered once the school day was over, as I tried to find reasons and explanations during my own personal reflection. However, thinking back now, I mainly remember the amazing moments I had during my student teaching placement: the lessons I taught that went over well, the many laughs I shared with my students, and the incredible projects that my students submitted.
Reflection is a huge part of personal improvement. I try every day to be better than the last, especially when it comes to my teaching. That is why for my last student teaching experience, I challenged myself to write 1 takeaway lesson at the end of each school day – good, bad, or otherwise! Although there were obviously many lessons I learned throughout each day, I stuck to my initial challenge of 1 per day. Thus, my list of 45 lessons I learned from student teaching was born.
1) First days can be hard for both students and teachers.
2) Structure, expectations, and routine are crucial components of classroom management.
3) Physical Education not only gets students moving, but it gets them engaged.
4) Fellow teachers have AMAZING ideas – utilize their knowledge and experience!
5) Number Talks do not only strengthen mental math and efficiency, but also numeric vocabulary.
6) A staggering amount of students in urban schools do not, or are unable to, participate in after school clubs or activities.
7) ADHD can cause a learning impairment for the student and their classmates if not supported properly.
8) Dr. Seuss is a genius and his stories can provide valuable lessons to both students and adults.
9) Students recognize the difference between “strict” and “fair”. Even when you might feel like you’re being strict, the students understand where you are coming from.
10) If you can make students care about the subject matter, they will be more engaged, produce higher-quality work, and learn more.
11) Genius Hour is a great form of inquiry-based learning and fosters deep learning through student engagement.
12) Know your students – find out what their interests are and use those topics to generate examples that engage students and ensure comprehension.
13) Offering a variety of approaches to the same subject matter provides an engaging and holistic educational experience.
14) Out of seemingly nowhere, your students will produce something that blows you away.
15) A lot can be said about the importance of teaching and demonstrating time management skills.
16) When all hell breaks loose, there will always be something that ends of making you smile.
17) Despite being friends with almost everyone in the class, students still get nervous during presentations, and that’s OK!
18) Field trips, like We Day, are great opportunities for students to learn outside of their classroom.
19) Revisiting a lesson that didn’t go over well the first time allows the teacher to correct their mistakes and the students to correct theirs.
20) Celebrate your victories and successes, no matter how big or small.
21) Some days, your students will blow you away when you least expect it.
22) Mentor teachers can build you up, make you feel confident, and prepare you to be a great teacher!
23) A built rapport with your students takes time, but pays off by saving time on classroom management.
24) Racism happens at all ages. Sexism happens at all ages. Bullying happens at all ages. Teachers must be ready to educate their students about these sensitive topics.
25) Coding is a fun and interactive way to teach Math and Science to students of any age.
26) You can still be a fun and easy-going teacher and expect respect from your students; one does not negate the other.
27) Each teacher has their own approach and philosophy of teaching; none are wrong, but it is about finding one that works for you.
28) Games in the classroom can get rowdy, but that just means that they are having fun while learning.
29) Many students struggle with transitions, so make sure you educate and prepare students with the skills necessary to make them as smooth as possible.
30) Teaching students to celebrate other students’ successes is difficult, but a necessary life skill to know.
31) Teachers must be very adaptable and be ready for anything to happen or change at any time.
32) Snow days are a whole new kind of crazy, but they make you reminisce on how AWESOME they were as a kid.
33) When you don’t feel your best, you cannot be your best. Self-care is so important.
34) Being evaluated only makes you better, even when you are a teacher.
35) Preparing an assembly for the entire school takes a lot of work, but the students (and teacher) feel so fulfilled when it’s over.
36) Don’t shy away from telling the class what you thought of their behaviour – good or bad – and holding them accountable.
37) Catholic liturgies and masses supplement the students’ education with faith, morals, and purpose.
38) There will be days that make you feel defeated; vent, find a silver lining, and laugh at what got you so down in the first place.
39) Physical Education should promote a healthy lifestyle, but through fun and play. Kin-Ball is the ultimate example of this!
40) What makes students want to learn? Kahoots!
41) Bus cancellations give you the opportunity to connect further with each student, allowing for more individualized attention and teaching.
42) The bond and respect gained through helping a student through a difficult situation is invaluable.
43) There are no bad kids, just kids to who sometimes make the mistake of doing bad things.
44) Don’t allow yourself to get caught up in the politics of teaching. Remember why you are there and what your passion and purpose is.
45) Kids are AWESOME! Teaching is a privilege and the best vocation in the world.