Guests in the Classroom: Top Ten Tips for Preservice Teachers
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Guests in the Classroom: Top Ten Tips for PreserviceTeachersMartin J. Ward & Tim J. WellsPublished online: 13 Jul 2012.
To cite this article: Martin J. Ward & Tim J. Wells (2003) Guests in the Classroom: Top Ten Tips for Preservice Teachers,Kappa Delta Pi Record, 40:1, 42-44, DOI: 10.1080/00228958.2003.10516414
To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00228958.2003.10516414
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42 Kappa Delta Pi Record Fall 2003
Martin J. Ward is Associate Profes-sor of education at Texas A&M Uni-versityCorpus Christi. His teachinginterests include teacher education,special education, multiculturaleducation, sports psychology, andtennis coaching. Tim J. Wells is Pro-fessor in the Departments ofTeacher Education and Educa-tional Administration, Texas A&MUniversityCorpus Christi. Histeaching interests include teachereducation, teacher appraisal, andsupervision of teaching. Both Drs.Ward and Wells work withpreservice teachers through theCenter for Professional Develop-ment of Teachers.
reservice teachers generally areconfident and enthusiastic
about their abilities to teacheffectively (Lortie 1975). These
Gateways to Experience
Guests in the Classroom:Top Ten Tips for PreserviceTeachers
desirable qualities are based, forthe most part, on the preserviceteachers previous experiences asstudents in the classroom, not asteachers (Dunkin, Precians, andNettle 1994; Holt-Reynolds 1992;Pajares 1993). While the personalexperience a preservice teacherbrings to his or her teacher-preparation program represents animportant foundation for profes-sional growth, the role as aninstructional leader in the class-room is one that must be learned.
Learning to teach occurs invaried settings in most universityteacher-education programs. AtTexas A&M UniversityCorpusChristi, the transformation fromcollege students to preserviceteachers occurs in a field-basedblock hosted by partner schools.This intensive field-based experi-
ence helps prepare preserviceteachers for the programs culmi-nating student teaching semester.The process of learning to teach inthe classroom of another teachertypically produces excellent results.The dynamics of entering anotherteachers classroom, however,requires sensitivity, patience, andflexibility in this mentoringrelationship. Preservice teachers, asguests in the classroom of thecooperating teachers, are bestreceived when they adhere tospecific etiquette.
Preservice Teacher EtiquetteThe following top ten tips for
preservice teachers entering theclassrooms of cooperating teachersare based on the authors experi-ences, observations, and feedbackgained as university site professors
by Martin J. Ward and Tim J. Wells
Kappa Delta Pi Record Fall 2003 43
through a partnership with a localhigh school.
#1 Remember that you are aguest in the cooperatingteachers classroom.
Though preservice teachers, ina sense, provide free labor, mostcooperating teachers still considerit much easier to just do it them-selves. Cooperating teachers donot know in advance what they aregoing to get in terms of a preserviceteachers attitude, abilities, person-ality, and teaching philosophies. Insome cases, the preservice teacheractually may be viewed as anadditional burden for the alreadyoverworked cooperating teacher.Furthermore, many effectiveteachers hesitate to give up theirclass for fear that their studentsmay be shortchanged. Preserviceteachers who enter their cooperat-ing teachers classrooms deter-mined to be good guests are morelikely to be rewarded with teachingopportunities and ever-increasingresponsibilities.
#2 Observe the cooperatingteacher.
It is so easy to be critical.Instead, preservice teachers shouldbe sure to seek out the voice ofexperience from their cooperatingteachers. These experiencedteachers know their students andthe environment in which they areteaching. Preservice teachers canget to know the students in theclassroom and become familiarwith the school, but not nearly tothe extent of the cooperatingteacher who is there every day fromthe beginning to the end of theyear. Of course, everyone makesmistakes, cooperating teachersincluded. Even in situations whenthe cooperating teacher is ineffec-
tive, a preservice teacher can learna great deal. Preservice teacherswho give an impression of know-ing it all undermine their relation-ship with their cooperating teacherand limit their opportunities forgrowth. John Wooden, champion-ship basketball coach at UCLA,once said, What you learn afteryou know it all is what counts.
#3 Be positive.Be a role model for the stu-
dents. Smile a lot. It makes teach-ing more fun. Happy teachers aremore productive. Negative atti-
tudes destroy preservice teachersrelationships with students andother educators. Remember,preservice teachers need strongreferences from their mentorswhen it comes time to apply forteaching positions. A positiveattitude can be demonstrated bygiving some extra effortaboveand beyond assigned duties, onoccasion. Extra effort is viewed byothers as a sign of caring. Volun-teer, become a part of the school,and make it a better place.
#4 Be professional andpunctual.
Dressing as a professionaleducator is important. Preserviceteachers who question whether or
not their clothing is appropriate forteaching usually find out that it isnot. Male preservice teachers whowonder about earrings or dyed hairare advised to look at the maleteachers and administrators of thebuilding in which they teach forclues regarding appropriate dressand appearance. Schools aretraditionally conservative. Insettings with dress codes andschool uniforms, the desire ofpreservice teachers to make astatement through their per-sonal dress or appearance is notappreciated.
Punctuality and professional-ism go hand in hand. Being tardyor absent is simply unacceptable.Preservice teachers are in aposition of responsibility and theircooperating teachers, along withschool administrators are depend-ing on them. Furthermore, apreservice teachers effectiveness asa classroom teacher will be eitherenhanced or undermined by theway he or she manages time.
#5 Be careful what you say inthe teachers lounge, especiallyto other teachers.
Cooperating teachers expectcooperation, support, and respectfrom preservice teachers. Whileteachers may be overheardcriticizing one of their peers, mostteachers will view the samecriticism expressed by a preserviceteacher in an entirely differentlight. It simply is not the place forthe apprentice to criticize thementoring teacher or others inroles as educational leaders. Gossipis definitely best ignored or leftunrepeated by the preserviceteacher. Remember the old adage,If you dont have anything good tosay about someone, dont sayanything at all.
The dynamics ofentering another
teachers classroom,requires sensitivity,
44 Kappa Delta Pi Record Fall 2003
Though preservice teachers can aska cooperating teacher for sugges-tions, they always should haveideas of their own to bounce off theexperienced teacher. Preserviceteachers should create their ownbag of tricks for situations wherethey discover that they haveunplanned instructional time.Observing other teachers anddeeply reflecting upon what workswell for other teachers mightenhance preservice teacherseffectiveness. Educational consult-ant Harry Wong encouragesteachers to steal from the best(Wong 1995). He maintains thateffective teachers are always on thelookout for new, innovativeeducational ideas and practices.
#7 Examine your school, home,and work responsibilitiescarefully.
Preservice teachers shouldenter into their teacher-educationprogram with the understandingthat they are preparing for careersas professional educators. Theyshould ask themselves: Will thetime commitment and rigor ofteacher preparation fit with theother parts of my life? Field-basedteacher education is intensive.Preservice teachers are asked tobecome involved in the school andthe lives of their students. Longhours, challenging circumstances,and extra effort are a part of thepreservice teaching experience.
#8 Teaching is hard work.Preservice teachers are
entering into a profession of greatresponsibility. They are advised to
learn each students name as soonas possible. They also should befamiliar with the instructionalobjectives of the school, district,and state. They must examine thecourse curriculum and know wheretheir lesson fits in the big picture.They should develop instructionalobjectives that connect the curricu-lum and established performancestandards to their students interestsand real-world use. Specific instruc-tional objectives should guide lessonplanning and inform students of ateachers intentions.
#9 Ideals are important, butrelationships are essential.
Teaching is a relationship-driven endeavor (Renard andRogers 1999). Preservice teachersshould go into their field-basedassignments with high expecta-tions, but remember that every daymay not always be ideal andpleasant. Preservice teachers mustlearn and grow from all of theirexperiences, the trying ones as wellas the exhilarating ones. Whenthings get tough or feelings arehurt, asking the university to movea field-based student to anothersetting is not the solution. Mostprincipals and teachers do notwant someone who was unsuc-cessful in a previous setting.Therefore, choosing to stay andwork things out rather than give upand leave is in a preserviceteachers best interest. Goodcommunication typically preventssmall problems from escalatinginto major ones.
#10 Listen and learn.As a guest of the cooperating
teacher, a preservice teachersprimary order of business is tolisten and learn. There is much tobe learned: classroom rules and
procedures, students names, andcurriculum standards. The words ofStephen Covey (1989, 233) are goodadvice for all educators, and areespecially appropriate for preserviceteachers, Seek first to understand,then to be understood.
Partnering for SuccessThe journal entry of one
preservice teacher read as follows,Ive lost sleep, lost weight, lostfingernails, and had my deodorantfail me. She went on to describeher overall experience as wonder-ful, however, and summed it up asa partnership for success.Preservice teachers entry into theclassroom is a learning experience.No amount of orientation orpreparation can make the initialteaching experiences smooth orstress-free. Teaching is an experi-mental process and, likewise,preservice teachers learn throughexperience. The greater theexperience, whether it is good orbad, the more knowledgeable thepreservice teacher becomes. Thecooperating teacher plays a crucialmentoring role in the early classroomteaching experiences of a preserviceteacher. Preservice teachers whofollow these top ten tips will find theclassrooms of their cooperatingteachers to be a place of welcome.
ReferencesCovey, S. R. 1989. The seven habits of highly
effective people. New York: Simon andSchuster.
Dunkin, M. J., R. P. Precians, and E. B. Nettle.1994. Effects of formal teacher educationupon student teachers cognitions regardingteaching. Teaching and Teacher Education10(4): 395408.
Holt-Reynolds, D. 1992. Personal history-basedbeliefs as relevant prior knowledge in coursework. American Educational ResearchJournal 29(2): 32549.
Lortie, D. C. 1975. Schoolteacher: A sociologicalstudy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Pajares, F. 1993. Preservice teachers beliefs: Afocus for teacher education. Action inTeacher Education 15(2): 4554.
Renard, L., and S. Rogers. 1999. Relationship-driven teaching. Educational Leadership57(1): 3437.
Wong, H. K. 1995. The effective teacher (videorecording). Mountain View, Calif.: Harry K.Wong Publications.
#6 Be prepared.In fact, be overly prepared.
Preservice teachers are advised tohave Plan B ready in case theirorigional intentions go awry.