Organizational Tips for Student Teachers

Being a student teacher can be a tough, stressful experience. You are often quickly thrown into a full classroom well after the beginning of a semester, effectively being forced to play catch-up with both the curriculum and the student body as you both learn and prepare to teach. As a result of the fast-paced and stressful job of student teaching, you must be organized.

First, you need to develop a good way to organize your knowledge of the students in your classes. The first day as a student teacher should be focused on developing a seating chart. If possible, such a chart should be incorporated into a spreadsheet program like Microsoft Excel, allowing comments to be added to cells to flesh out information about each student. As you learn more about a student, write it into the comment that appears when the cursor clicks on the cell. Over time you will come to know what might better motivate each student.

Second, develop a lesson plan format that works for you. Though your college of education may require a certain format of lesson plan, a personal shorthand format that you are comfortable with should also be concocted. Every day you will need to fill out the course objectives and how they meet overall guidelines for the class. Keeping track of what you have taught allows you to cross off the material from a master list of topics that may be required by the school, school district, or state. With standardized testing so prevalent today it is important that student teachers quickly develop a way to keep track of which academic standards and concepts have already been taught by Day _____ of a unit and which still need to be covered.

Third, network with teachers and school faculty and personnel. After student teaching you will likely be on the hunt for a job, and these individuals can be invaluable in helping you land a good position. Experienced teachers also know the tricks of the trade and the informal rules and guidelines that can make your job easier. Developing a spreadsheet of teacher names, their departments and subjects of teaching, and information and advice gleaned from them can help you remember names and know whom to seek for help on a certain issue. Quickly getting a handle on who is who within a department can help build rapport and camaraderie and make a student teacher “one of the gang” instead of an outsider.

Fourth, and perhaps most important in terms of teaching, is developing a physical organization system for incoming and outgoing paperwork. Where do you want students to hand in their work? How do you plan to get it back to them? A “turn-in box” and a box of manila folders alphabetized by last name, or a crate with hanging file folders, is a simple system that removes much legwork from collecting completed work and disseminating graded assignments. Having students collect their graded work from their respective manila folders can prevent the awkwardness of a student teacher stumbling about the room unsure of which name belongs to which student. Another crate with hanging file folders can be used as a convenient place to store blank and extra worksheets, assignments, and study materials for students who may have lost their original copies or been absent the day the material was originally handed out.