Sunday, February 5, 2017

The 4 C’s for Becoming a Successful Student Teacher

Obviously there is no simple template for becoming a student teacher. Even though I have aspired to be an elementary teacher for most of my life, it’s actually quite terrifying to stand in front of a class of students for the first time. Student teaching allows future teachers to get past that challenging first class and become much more comfortable with leading students to the next level.

As an education major at High Point University, I have had the good fortune to be challenged by my professors and my classmates to be prepared for the classroom and ready to try new techniques and methods for my students. In particular, I have come to appreciate what has come to be known as the “4 C’s for Teachers” and how important it is to embrace these skills.

Confidence—As student teachers, we are expected to enter into an established classroom and quickly position ourselves as the leader. This abrupt transition from quietly interacting with students individually to gaining full control of the class can be daunting, but especially exciting! It is critical to approach this new scenario with quiet but direct confidence. We have been thoroughly prepared for this aspect of our educational journey through the support of our professors and rich experiences in diverse classroom settings. This sense of poise allows us to take risks with instructional strategies and truly instill a passion for learning within students. In fact, our confident demeanor directly correlates with student academic achievement—if you know you are the boss, then the students will know that as well and they will set high expectations for themselves.

Control—Behavior management, behavior management, behavior management! If I had a dollar for every time my professors mentioned the vitality of an effective behavior management plan, I would be able to buy an iPad for every single student in my classroom. However, as I approach student teaching, I have finally realized the momentous value of my professors’ repeated efforts to prepare us. Teaching cannot occur until control has been established and recognized by the students in the classroom.

At the beginning of my Student Teaching Internship, I entered into my cooperating teacher’s classroom on their first day of school and was completely astonished by the respect that was immediately imparted by the teacher on the students. The students inherently knew what was expected of them and assisted their peers with the new procedures. As they filed into the classroom with the jitters of the first day of second grade, they immediately sat down and began to work quietly on their own. The maturity of the students was unlike anything I had ever witnessed before. From that day forward, I referred to my cooperating teacher as a sorcerer. She claimed, “the success of my students relies directly on how I control my classroom, therefore I must gain that control before anything else occurs.” My cooperating teacher was able to immediately establish control and expect accountability. The students were being held to expectations that would challenge them, but they were absolutely obtainable. For student teachers, this sense of control will emphasize success during the time in the classroom.

Consistency— This is what I like to call “Showcasing Best Practices.” In direct correlation with control, consistency assists in the maintenance of a coherent classroom. As student teachers educated in conjunction with 21st century skills, we are rich with engaging and interactive proficiencies that provide a new classroom experience for many students. This innovation is highly marketable and, moreover, beneficial for the performance of our students. However, we must remain consistent with our instructional strategies out of respect for our students’ needs. This consistency means that as an educator we should engage our students in innovative manners, but align these interactive activities with the academic proficiency of our students. It is important to use our position as student teachers to incorporate highly effective instructional techniques, while ensuring each student is learning and gaining a holistic understanding. Consistency comes from much practice and determination.

Collaboration—This is a word that is thrown around all too lightly in many educational settings. However, this word carries the most crucial outcome for any educator, specifically student teachers. As a student teacher, we are unsure of many procedures and ideas we have at our disposal. We rely heavily on the contributions and suggestions of our cooperating teacher and resourceful faculty. This collaborative effort should never be identified as a weakness, but rather applauded for its ultimate benefit for the students. As we enter into student teaching, we must use every resource available and work with those that share similar goals.

Although these four practices will help us develop into success as a student teacher, it will never fully capture the overwhelming joy and rewarding challenges that come from being a teacher. So as we prepare for student teaching, we must be confident, have control, remain consistent, and develop a collaborative approach—but most of all we must enter each day with optimism with our students at the forefront of our mind and with their futures in our hands.

Claudia Beard is a Senior at High Point University. She is originally from Chicago, IL but plans to stay in the area after she graduates this May. Claudia will graduate with a B.A. in Elementary Education and a minor in Spanish which she hopes to use as she travels abroad to teach. She plans to continue her education at HPU through the 5th Year Educational Leadership program. As her educational journey takes her through Student Teaching this Spring, Claudia is reminded of the importance of collaboration, confidence, consistency and control in providing a positive educational learning environment. Her passion for teaching is what inspired her to share these techniques with like-minded student teachers.

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