How to Survive a Semester of Student Teaching (And Feel Good Doing It!)

By Tristyn Mandel, SED’19

The night before you start student teaching can be restless. As you toss to one side of the bed, you are overcome with excitement; however, as the clock ticks, the voice of the Ghost of SED Students Past reverberates throughout your bedroom: “Say goodbye to your social life” the voice taunts, “and say hello to grading papers.” Your mixed emotions typically result in a night of little sleep, and a lot of unanswered questions.

As a senior in the final two weeks of her practicum, I am here to tell you that it is all going to be ok! In fact, if anyone understands the anxiety that accompanies the start of student teaching it’s me; right before the onset of the fall semester, I was diagnosed with both low immunity and chronic fatigue. I considered delaying my practicum until the spring, but instead, I became dependent on a series of “lifestyle” routines that helped me power through. Here is a sneak peak of four routines that helped me ‘survive’ my semester of student teaching.

1. Set a Strict Bedtime: No Ifs, Ands or Buts!blog1
An early bedtime helps maintain your energy during your practicum. Set an alarm on your phone that reminds you that it is time for bed, and if it’s possible, utilize this alarm on the weekends too. A stable sleep cycle regulates you for the entire week.

2. Coffee is Not a Food Group
A balanced diet is essential when you are student teaching. Because the days are tiring, drinks with caffeine or snacks with sugar are tempting ways to receive quick bursts of energy; however, these options stimulate a roller coaster of adrenaline that will leave you feeling more lethargic than you felt before. Therefore, stay hydrated, and resort to more healthy lunch options that are full of natural carbohydrates and lean proteins.

3. Plan Ahead! You Will Thank Yourself Later
At the start of your practicum, you should meet with your practicing teacher to discuss the dates of your takeover. This will clarify the units that you will be designing lessons for. If you start crafting your lessons early, then your practicing teacher can provide you with feedback throughout the semester. If you stay on top of your planning, your lessons will be polished before your takeover begins (which will come sooner than you think!)

4. Pencil Your Friends In
Unwinding with good friends is a great way to blow off some steam. However, because many of your friends may not be student teaching, let alone SED students, it can be hard for them to understand your limited free time. This can result in more stress, and major FOMO. In order to avoid social anxiety, set time aside for friends in ways that better suit your schedule. For example, pencil in workout, dinner, and movie dates (especially on the weekends). Your friends will appreciate your efforts, and you will have events to look forward to.

These are just four of the countless routines that I relied upon this semester. Student teaching can be challenging, but if you stay grounded, the experience will be that much more rewarding.