The following is my response to an email from a prospective teacher. She asked for suggestions on how to become most qualified to work in a school that is supportive of its students.
I am excited you want to join the best profession in the world. Teachers influence students who may become future leaders, engineers, doctors, parents, and teachers. This is a huge responsibility that should not be taken lightly. Despite the thinking of many people, a teacher is not a babysitter. Learn to love your students and be concerned about how each is succeeding in learning what you are teaching. Consider the students in your classroom as “your students.” It also helps if you know what your students’ outside interests and activities are.
I recommend you prepare as much as possible for your student teaching experience. Get to know the students you student teach as if the class is your own. Work with your cooperating teacher in writing and evaluating lessons and activities. Keep a reflective journal from the time you begin your student teaching. Reflecting on your teaching will help you identify teaching methods that are successful as well as those methods that challenge you and/or your students.
Keep in contact with parents. Share examples of how students are doing well in addition to asking how you can help the reluctant learner. Remember parents have loved their child for a LONG time and want him/her to be successful. If these parents feel you are on their side you will develop an important partnership.
Many schools have a Mission Statement that includes helping students become “lifelong learners.” Allow this concept to motivate you. Find ways to extend your learning. Allow your learning to include activities and information related to your content area. I recommend you take advantage of opportunities to learn in other areas as well. One area I suggest is making sure you keep up with technology. I do not recommend students being the most “technology literate” in a classroom. Join online education communities that relate to what you teach or are learning. Ask questions if you do not know how to do something. Share your learning with your students as in “Guess what I just learned …”
What else would you recommend I share with this prospective teacher? I want to be encouraging in what I include.