A critical step in preparing for a successful student teaching experience is to research and learn about your new school and its students. Chances are you have never been in the school, nor have you met any of the students. If you have, through work experience or just by visiting, then you are ahead of the game, and the first day of student teaching will not feel so much like a blind date. Nonetheless, further research of your student teaching assignment is critical. This information allows an educator to familiarize themselves with the students and their backgrounds; the school and its goals; information on the classrooms and classes offered; and the general community. Knowing this information on the school and students will alleviate some of the anxiety a student teacher may have.

To learn about the school, talk to teachers that teach, or used to teach, there. Use the Internet to visit the websites of the school, the district, and the state education office. Watch for and clip articles from the local newspaper about the school. Call the local Chamber of Commerce.

Below are questions to guide you in your research:

·What is the student make-up of the school (special ed, bilingual, ethnic backgrounds, income)?

·What types of learning initiatives are in place at the school?

·What are the schools test scores? How are the score trending? What are areas of strength and weakness? (This information can usually be found on the state education office website.)

·What is the typical class size?

·How many students and teachers are there?

·What type of curriculum and programs does the school offer?

·Where is the school located?

·What are the school guidelines, school rules, and emergency procedures?

·Who are the key players (principals, department heads, etc), and what are their backgrounds?

In performing due diligence on your student teaching assignment, you reduce the anxiety surrounding the student teacher experience, and you develop a greater understanding of your students and their learning needs. Overall, you position yourself for a successful student teaching experience.

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