Faculty Advice: 7 Things All Prospective Teachers Need to Know
Pursuing a master’s degree in teaching is challenging. Whether you are at the beginning of your career in academia, looking to advance in your institution or organization, or have been teaching for years and want to hone your skills, it is common for students to face obstacles on their path to earning a degree.
We asked our faculty for advice for students who are currently pursuing a master’s degree or may decide to in the future. Here are some of their responses:
A key to success in beginning a new school year is organization and planning. Make sure you have a detailed list of all that needs to be accomplished and create an action plan. Once you have completed this plan, print it and place it in various locations as a reminder to keep you on track.
Teaching is one of the best jobs in the world – and a Master of Arts in Teaching program will prepare you for your first year and beyond. To take advantage of that preparation, engage fully in all the readings, class discussions, and assignments; don’t do anything halfway. Expect of yourself what you will expect of your students, and enjoy the learning so you will be ready to enjoy the teaching.
Start building a personal learning network now. Use social media and email to stay connected with peers, professors, and mentor teachers who share your educational philosophy, and who can both support and challenge you in your teaching practice. When you begin teaching in your own classroom, add peers in your school to your network, and keep in mind that those who will help you grow the most may not be in the classroom next door.
Always remember that you are going to be wearing three learning hats in all of our courses: the hat of a graduate student, the hat of a novice teacher, and the hat of a K-12 student. As you reflect on your learning experiences in your different courses, consider what you think and feel as you wear each hat.
Actively participating in various learning communities is one of the most important tasks for a teacher candidate. Prepare for class discussions ahead of time by reading and reflecting on the materials thoroughly. Take advantage of your fieldwork experience by synthesizing theory and teaching practice. Be an active contributor to study group meetings to learn with and from others.
It is critical that you get to know your students! Since you need to connect your content to your particular students, greet them at the door, talk with them during class and show them that you care about each student and their learning. Developing a strong classroom community built on trust and genuine relationships will help you persevere through the challenges of your first year teaching.
Preparing to become a teacher is a challenging and highly rewarding experience. Be open to learning in new ways and from divergent perspectives, and never, never be afraid to ask questions. The learning begins now, but it never ends, as teaching is a profession of lifelong learning.