Pressured about Practicum? 6 ways to maintain your mental health during student teaching

By: Sophie Burkholder, BU Wheelock ’20

Full-time student teaching is often touted as the most stressful period of college. As students, we put in a lot of hours, a lot of work, and a lot of effort to complete your practicum with the addition of classes, part-time jobs, and (occasionally) a social life. However, student teaching can also be a lot of fun. It is the culmination of four years of hard work and knowledge-gain, as well as an effective transition from college life to our lifelong careers. But to get the most out of student-teaching and your practicum experience, you have to take care of you first. Here are six pieces of advice from a current student teacher on how to make this time manageable.

  1. Establish a routine that you enjoy.

Especially in those early mornings, make a little time for yourself so you look forward to you morning routine. Whether it’s making coffee, listening to a podcast, or just a thorough morning skincare routine, make sure you allow yourself the time and space to wake up and energetically start your day. It will make crawling out of bed a lot easier, and it will ensure a happier you when you arrive at school.

  1. Carve out time for the important people in your life.

Make appointments or dates with friends and loved ones in your life. Time with them should be prioritized just like any of the other million things that keep us endlessly busy during student teaching. You can have a standing weeknight dinner, or a Friday-night movie night, or even a daily coffee run before an evening class. And remember, you are also an important person in your life! Schedule in time for you to take care of yourself and recharge.

  1. Find things that calm you down.

Speaking of self-care and recharging, find activities that calm you down and mellow you out. You are going to have a lot on your mind during this semester, so you need to find calming practices and routines that work for you. Many people like to read, do coloring books or puzzles, play music, or cook! It doesn’t matter what it is as long as it lets you rest and reenergize yourself for the next day’s work. A routine sleep schedule is also super important during student teaching.

  1. Lower your expectations for yourself.

As you make lesson plans, take over classes, and begin real hands-on work in the classroom, you will make mistakes. You will have bad days, and not everything will go as planned. This is normal, and true not just for student teachers but for all teachers. Remember that you are not expected to do everything perfectly or know everything right now ¾ you are a student and you are learning. So, take the space and time to do that!

  1. Continue to experience your last semester or year of college.

It’s easy to say no to every social activity during student teaching. You’re working a lot, you’re tired, you have to wake up at the crack of dawn, etc. But if these are the last few months of your college experience, it’s important to not let them go to waste! Be responsible with your time and energy, but also allow yourself to let go and enjoy your last moments on campus with the people you’ve shared the last years of your life with.

  1. Enjoy every second of it!

Student teaching has been an absolutely wonderful experience for me. While not all of it is perfect, I have learned so much from my supervising teacher, my incredible students, and all my friends and mentors throughout this experience. My ultimate piece of advice is to not let the inevitable stress cloud this fantastic opportunity for growth, professionally and personally, and the amount of fun and joy that comes from being a teacher. Student teaching is the final lap in a four-year run; enjoy it as the reward and stepping stone to your next moment in life.