Yesterday I was in a lecture for a behaviour management subject and he was giving tips about prac as there is a fair portion of the class that start their placements this week or next. So here is the rundown of what we talked about.
- Step away and talk: Don’t just stand up the front and “lecture”. Get in there and move around. Sure, if you stand up the front and talk you can have an imaginary wall between you and them and they can’t hurt you; but you’re hurting their learning as they are not engaging with you.
- Try and tell stories: Telling stories to make a point draws the students in as they can relate and it can help to build a rapport with them.
- Slow down and check for understanding: It’s really easy to speed through and then be at the end of the lesson like 20 minutes before the bell and then you’re stuck. Sometimes slowing down, not doing the slow-mo voice, but not trying to get through everything at super speed and taking a moment to check for understanding. This can consist of asking questions about what you’ve just been discussing.
- BE WARY OF SARCASM! Usually, you’re just told point blank. Don’t use it. However, if you have the right relationship with kids you can do it and they will understand the boundaries. Having that banter can be good, but you need to be careful about what you say. Be wary of any jokes or comments about race, gender, or sexuality. Someone might take offence to it and then there’s a heap of complaints about you to the principal.
- Dress slightly more conservatively than everyone else: As a student teacher/prac teacher/not quite a teacher whatever you want to be called, you already have a target on your back. You’re being watched, literally, there’s another teacher in the room all the time making sure you’re doing it right and others. Unfortunately, people are judgemental. Dress professionally, like you’re in a “white-collar job”; collared shirt, button up, business pants, and shoes. Oh! Shoes! Get a pair of “prac shoes”, ones that you can stand up in all day if need be. If you need orthotics, WEAR THEM! Or you’re going to have sore feet, hips, knees, back whatever they correct.
- Move around and help students when your mentor is teaching: Moving around and helping the students while your mentor is teaching will let them get to know you before you teach and it shows that you care.
- Teach yourself to talk to students: Sometimes it’s hard to know how to talk to students especially when you’re not interacting with them frequently. Sometimes it comes naturally when you put that teacher hat on. Think about how your teachers interacted with you. How did they talk to you?
- Make friends with the kids: Now this is a bit of a controversial tip. You still want the students to respect you. So be nice, let them relate, don’t belittle them. You were once a student too, you wanted to relate to your teachers, wanted to know about them. Now do the same, but don’t tell them things they can hold against you or will be offended by. “They smell fear”.
- Know the content, adapt, and move on: When the students are being painful, just be confident in your content, adapt to the situation and move on.
- Brush off Friday Afternoon: On a Friday afternoon, it can be easy to just hold on to everything that has happened and to take it personally. Try your hardest to just leave it at work before you get in the car. Enjoy your weekend. “Brush it off”.
- Timeout: Using time out for a student who is being disruptive can be a good strategy to not only get the class back on task but can also be used as a strategy for you as the teacher to get yourself back and recoup. However, it is important not to use this too often otherwise the students just expect it and will intentionally be disruptive just to get out of work.
- Acknowledge late arrivers: If students arrive late, acknowledge them, let them settle, give them a quick overview of what you have covered, then when the class is working talk to them about them being late and urge them to be on time next lesson.
Hope these tips can help someone.