Student Teachers Tips for Maintaining your Professionalism

Many young men and women have decided to dedicate their lives to a very noble cause. The mandatory education of children and teenagers. This choice will lead these educators on a difficult yet very satisfying journey. Student teachers are often exceedingly intelligent, highly motivated, well-educated, unusually energetic and very hopeful individuals. They lack one crucial element though. Longevity. They can not rely on years or even decades of firsthand classroom experience. They are still amateurs in this demanding arena. Young sages on shaky stages.

Even brand new educators still caught up in the throes of student teaching must always think, speak and write like competent educators should. Student teachers must behave and dress like professionals. They are junior members who belong to an enormous worldwide corporation. Silly, stupid, slovenly and surly actions and ideas have no place in these young people’s agendas.

Student teachers never want to self-destruct before they’ve even had a chance to outshine everyone else on their campuses. They do not need to feel meek and miserable. Student teachers need to create some sort of personal assessment tools. They need to look at themselves with an enormous amount of objectivity. Society has already placed them upon lofty little pedestals. They need to work exceptionally hard in order to effectively earn those privileged places.

How will a student teacher look and feel like a professional when they’ve had little or no experience as educators? Poise. They need to walk with confidence wherever they go. They should not drag their feet or walk like they have several hundred pounds strapped to their backs. Student teachers should not look like high school or college students. They need to dress like professionals. Clothes that are conservative will always be a great choice. Student teachers should also choose clothes that are elegant, tasteful and more than a little comfortable. Classic jewelry and a miniscule amount of well-applied cosmetics will add distinction and flair that will help offset the austere look of true academic professionals.

Young professionals who are still in training, whether they are addressing their students or merely visiting in the teachers’ workroom or lounge should always avoid slang, profanity and poor grammar. A student teacher may look 100% like a professional but the vulgar words they speak will ultimately betray them. A student teacher probably understands the true importance of poise. But there are other important elements regarding professionalism.  Politeness adds polish to one’s overall professional personality. Student teachers should exhibit impeccable manners at all times. Rude teachers cause unpleasant ripples that taint all the surrounding educational waters.

Brand new educators should maintain consistency, fairness and an atmosphere of respect. This may seem like an impossible dream. But consistency will provide comfort, safety and security. An educator who is fair will have an outstanding reputation. Respect will flow both ways. Availability is also important. Teaching is not a job. It is a career. Sometimes student teachers are still struggling with their new positions but they should certainly realize that their own students could very well be struggling with their own academic subjects. Student teachers should try to avoid seeming like they are remote and uncaring. They should make every effort to help their students succeed.

A competent, caring student teacher who possesses great poise, politeness, and a positive personality will foster an environment that will be conducive to solid learning. Educators who are still in training mode should remember that they are already role models. Would these same student teachers want to view their personal role models acting in an unprofessional manner?

Student teachers must perform like professionals. They have chosen this career choice because of their love for society. They have probably sacrificed thousands of future dollars in actual salary and/or benefits in order to educate the young children and teenagers sitting in their classrooms. Student teachers didn’t choose education in order to see how many awards they could display on their walls. Certificates of merit and local, state or national awards are fine but every educator should always aspire to loftier heights of academic achievement in order to become the outstanding educator they were destined to become.

Organization is the optimal means for reaching one’s goal of absolute professionalism. A student teacher can never be too organized. Categorization of nearly every tangible facet that directly deals with the total classroom environment will help with the overall clarification of every speck of subject matter that will be covered during the course of the school year. Lesson plans should always be comprehensible. These detailed plans also need to provide room for fun and flexibility. Every minute of instruction time is very valuable. Learning should be coherent yet still creative. The day to day art of education should flow smoothly. Classrooms should be filled with consistency not chaos. A culture of calm learning will enable children and teens to freely absorb the important information being imparted by these novice educators. Student teachers should avoid losing their tempers no matter how unpleasant the situations seem to be. Students love pushing buttons. Student teachers do not need to become victimized by their own students’ unreasonable behavior. They must always remain calm. They are the adults. They are being paid to do a very important job. There is no excuse for out of control student teachers.

It is not easy being student teachers especially when these young professionals are always underneath the unforgiving microscopes. All eyes are intently focused on them. Scores of administrators, seasoned teachers, other educational staff, parents and the children themselves are all busy observing every move they make and every word they utter. Everyone is scrutinizing the new student teachers. Young teachers in training will either fail or flourish. But few of them will fail if they sincerely follow their own assessment tools and those of their mentors and administrators. Student teachers need to remember that they are elite members of a very special association. A distinguished and dedicated group of individuals who dare to make a difference in the daily lives of other people.

Teachers have always been held to higher standards than the rest of the populace. Even student teachers should act like professionals at work and at play. Twenty four hours a day and seven days a week. A student teacher is still a professional on weekends, holidays and during summer vacations. Other young people who have chosen different fields of employment may have more freedom to lead “normal” personal lives. I’ll cite one common problem. It may be legally acceptable for student teachers to drink alcoholic beverages during their off hours but it is not  morally suitable behavior in the eyes of young students and their parents. If local school board members saw their young student teachers frequenting bars and nightclubs on a regular basis that would send out very negative messages that would come back to haunt those young teachers. Student teachers do not want to see their names in tawdry tabloid headlines. They want to be noted for their excellence in all areas of their educational lives. Student teachers should actively seek to maintain professional attitudes for their entire careers. If they are capable of achieving this goal, they will succeed as well-respected and much admired educators.