Diane L. Judd, Ph.D.
Early Childhood & Reading
College of Education
Valdosta State University
"Tips for 
Practicum Teachers"
Teaching Tips for Practicum Teachers from Practicum Teachers

  Tips from Experienced ECEC 3190 Practicum Teachers Fall 2002

Tips from Haley Jones 
You should go into the elementary class room ready to work.  Let your mentor teacher know that you are willing to do (or at least try) anything she needs.  Establish a comfortable relationship by talking with your teacher and asking questions.   Right away, you should let her know that you have to complete so many lessons while you are in her class.  Then she will know that there has to be a time set aside for YOU to teach. Communicate a lot to let her know you are there and ready to work.

Tips from Maggie Tatum
Always maintain consistency in schoolwork.
Always keep the students working on something.  Have word searches using the word wall words for early finishers. 
Always smile! Smiles are contagious! 
Always remember change is good.

See each child as a unique individual and know that children learn in many different ways.  Adapt your plans with that in mine.  And realize that children can sense whether you love them and teaching them or are just doing a job! -Sherry Cleveland

Being a teacher is more than a career, it is who you are!  A teacher tries to gain experiences from everything he or she encounters in order to share that with those she teaches whether it is something read, seen, heard, or felt.  Teaching becomes a lifestyle which grows beyond the classroom.  A teacher must be willing to learn not only the material being taught but also the ones she is teaching. -Robbin Richardson

Tips from Katrice McKinnon
Go in with an open mind, let your mentor teacher know right away that you are there to help and that you want to help. 

Tips from Shannon Coker
Be prepared for everything, and always try to work with your mentor teacher.

Tips from Carla Bello
Get to know your mentor teacher and get in her good graces.   Volunteer to read a book, grade papers, or teach the calendar activities.  Your mentor teacher will appreciate your initiative. 

Observe and remember the techniques your mentor teacher uses to grab and hold the children's attention during a lesson or activity. 

When you have your lessons evaluated by a University Professor, plan it on a day other than Monday.  The children are still wound up from the weekend on Monday! 

Tips from Brandi Bostick 
Get involved!   Don't wait for the teacher to ask for  your help, ask the teacher what you can do to help.  Time goes by much easier when you are actually doing something.

Tips from Staci Cavenaugh
I think the single most important thing that you can do as a new practicum student, is to be as involved as you possibly can with your mentor teacher and class. This means take initiative, and get in the game!!!  The more you can become a part of that class, the better it prepares you for student teaching.

Tips from Paige Southall
Call or visit your mentor teacher before your first day of practicum.  Remind her/him when your first day is.  This is a better time to get introduced than at 8:00 in the morning. This will also give both of you a better idea of what to expect.

Prepare early for your lessons. There is often a lot of materials you may need and getting them together takes more time than you may think.

Practice reading books because you will read a lot of them to your practicum class.  Probably even on your first day!

Tips from Tamra Brice
Just relax on the very first day of your practicum.  It's natural to be nervous, anxious, and scared all at the same time when you begin your practicum.  They key is to relax, breathe, and know that you will feel like you are a part of the class before long.  It doesn't take long before the students warm up to you and you are carrying on lengthy and interesting conversations with your mentor teacher.  The first day is usually the worst, but trust me, it definitely becomes better.  Your first practicum experience is one that you will never forget and will always treasure!

Be prepared for all types of parents.  There are some who are very supportive and are willing to communicate with your mentor teacher.  There are others that believe that their child is a sweet, innocent angel that can do no wrong while in reality the student may act like a little devil.  There are even parents who seem to not even exist in their child's life.  The key with parents is to communicate.  It is also very wise to keep documentation of the student's disciplinary actions.  Most parents are pretty helpful, but remember to always expect the unexpected!

Tips from Erin Roberts
Smile  a lot.  (Even if you don't feel like it.)  The other teachers will smile back and make you feel more comfortable in your new environment. The children will also smile back and make you feel welcome and accepted.  They will soon treat you very lovingly and adoringly.  I love my morning hugs.

Get to know two very important people fast. The lunchroom lady (the one that sits at the computer) and the janitor.  They are usually very approachable and helpful. They hold a lot of information you need to know. I have enjoyed many helpful and useful conversations.

Imitate commands.  If the children see you doing it, they will too.  No matter how silly you feel walking the halls with your finger on your lip and your hand on your hip, just do it.

Learn the children's names the first day. The teacher will be impressed and the kid's will be thrilled. (Don't get your feelings hurt if they don't remember yours for the first few days.  It takes them a little while.)

Don't put them in the swings at recess. You will want to, but resist the urge to help in this area. If you do it for one, you have to do it for the whole class. (Some kids are not as small and light as you think they are.)  They will expect you to do it everyday from then on. And then you have teach them how to swing, because you can't push everyone!

Tips from Kandice Hersey
Be ready to jump in and take the initiative to help out whenever possible.  Take advantage of every opportunity that may come along for more experience, such as doing extra lessons.

Tips from Faith Wolfe
Smile!  Be approachable and warm, so the children feel comfortable around you.

Never schedule an evaluation for first thing Monday morning with Kindergarten students--especially following three days with a substitute, two holidays and four weekend days. 

Follow the mentor teacher's advice every time while you are a guest in her room.  Do not try to change her opinion. 

Know the classroom rules, procedures and consequences for violating the rules so that you can model, explain and enforce them all.

Offer to help your mentor teacher with anything she needs.

Notice things that need to be handled, such as glue on desks, trash on floor, and papers to collect.

Prepare your lesson materials well ahead of the day you plan to teach the lesson.

Ask your mentor teacher about anything you do not understand.  That's why you're there--to learn!

Organize your practicum assignments and start working on them early. 

Don't complain about being tired.  If you think you're tired now, wait until you are doing this job on your own all day, every day for an entire school year.

Be flexible.  Children and life are unpredictable.  Go with the flow and don't let changes bother you.  See changes as challenges and opportunities to approach teaching from a different direction.

Document everything.  You will have to do it when you are a teacher.  It will be good practice to do it now.  You will be amazed just how quickly you can forget so much.

Remember the ultimate goal is to make a difference in the life of a child.

Tips from Rebekah Ford
It's normal not to know what to do on the first day of class.  It takes time to get used to the mentor teacher and the students.

No two kids are alike.  You will be in a classroom full of individuals with different wants and needs.

Listen to the students and try to think on their level from time to time.  You will understand them better.

Have lots of patience.  After all, they are just kids.

Don't be too hard on the students.  That way they don't get discouraged before they even get started.

Most importantly, have fun.  If the students see you having fun teaching the lesson then they will have fun learning it.

Tips from Patti Dean
Wear clothes and shoes that are appropriate, but make sure they are COMFORTABLE!

Try to learn your students' names quickly, which makes a great impression.  This is more impressive to the younger students.

Give your mentor teacher a list you have made of things that you need to accomplish during the semester.  She may be able to give you some great ideas which will make your stress level much less. 

Don't panic----things could be a lot worse!!!!  Just remember your goal of being a teacher and that you are on the downhill slide!

Tips from Jennifer Wilkinson 
Organize youself from the beginning.  This means sitting down with your mentor teacher, day one, and explaining to her exactly what you have to do.  Figure out your time, so there won't be any last minute rushing.  Also, don't be afraid to ask questions, the teacher would rather you ask questions then do something wrong. 

Tips from Shana Sinclair
Go into the mentor teachers classroom with an open mind.

Try to block out any negative backbitting, that you may hear, and realize that it is not professional.

Tips from Amanda Jones
  Be prepared to do anything (whether it be crawl around on the floor or read 5 books one right after another).

Go into the classroom with an open mind and be ready to learn. 

Take advice from your teacher (but be careful with what you do with that advice).  Be ready to take criticism (it will be a great learning experience).

Let you mentor teacher know that you are ready to help her in anyway possible, but be firm about not being her paper girl (you are in the classroom to learn not run errands).

Make a note-card for your very first lesson (you never know just how nervous you will be).

Make sure that you leave at the end of the semester with one extra friend.

Enjoy the time that you get to spend with the children (soon you will be the one running around with your head cut off)!

Tips from Casey Ellison
Always have a plan B. 

Be Postivie. 

Get a lot of rest. 

Remember this is your choice, this is your future life, do you still want to be here. If not get out. 

Tips from Megan Harper 
Do not be afraid to ask your mentor teacher questions.  Talk to them as much as possible and be sure to let them know what you are planning to do or need to get done in the classroom and they will help you alot.

Write down your ideas.  When you see something or think of something you would like to use in your own classroom, write it down because you'll forget it if you don't.  Some of those ideas can be very helpful later on.

Do not be afraid to correct children when they are doing wrong.  If you don't let them know that you can discipline them, they will run all over you!

Tips from Leah Jordan
Get to know your mentor teacher.  She will be more than glad to give you tips for teaching if you will let her.  She will help you, but you have to tell her what you need.

Don't be afraid to ask questions.  That is the only way you will learn. 

Get up and volunteer in the classroom.  Don't let the teacher have to find you something to do.


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