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In my teacher education program, I remember from one class  I was handed over 60 articles on 20 different topics.  There were 20 students in my class, and we each had to prepare a presentation on one of those 20 topics, and provide the rest of the class at least 3 other research articles.  I almost collapsed under the information overload.   

What was I going to do?  Many of my peers simple used the trash to meet their organizational needs—disposing of anything that seemed superfluous.  But, the information my peers presented was useful, and I knew that at some point in my teaching career I might need it.  The problem was I didn’t have an effective organizational strategy. I was all over the place, like the information I was gathering.  I had a few articles in one class folder, some saved in another class folder, and even more scattered among floppy disks.

An effective organization strategy can save you a lot of future frustration.

First, develop a filing system.  An electronic system will allow you to save all you information indefinitely in one location.  Complete all your work on your computer, and try to get all your information (research papers, etc.) electronically, via email or compact disc.

Your filing system should work for you.  Remember to organize with purpose. If you are more likely to recall an article by its topic, you might want to group your articles, research, observations, etc by the topic rather than in class folders.  A physical system of file folders should mirror your electronic system, so you can easily access information in either place. 

Here are a few organizational strategies for your computer and/or physical folders:

  • Create class folders.  Once you complete work for a particular class, save the material in its corresponding folder
  • Manage the information based on themes.  Perhaps you have written about the approach of student journaling in several classes.  Instead of saving each piece of work in each separate class folder, it might be easier to save all works regarding journaling in one folder named “Journaling.”
  • Develop folders based on your teacher education activities.  For instance, you might want to save all your classroom observation in one folder regardless if you had to complete them for several classes.


Resource Links

Road to Teaching: A Guide to Teacher Training, Student Teaching, and Finding a Job

Organizational Tips from a Middle School Teacher

Organizational Tips for Teachers #2 – Keep an Inbox

Student Teacher Topics

As mentioned in the previous post, how do you, as a student teacher, stand out from other job seekers?

Imagine you are the hiring principal.  You have an open high school Social Studies position and you have narrowed down to two highly qualified (and very similar looking) candidates:

Candidate A: She is a recent graduate from a teacher preparation program.  She interviewed well and had a great portfolio that illustrated her pedagogy and professional growth.  She is certified to teach Social Studies.

Candidate B: She also is a graduate from a reputable teaching program.  She interviewed well and also had a fantastic portfolio full of lesson plans and student work.  She is certified to teach Social Studies and English Language Language Learners (ELL).

Examining both of these highly qualified candidates, which one would you choose?  The principal would hire Candidate BCandidate B is a greater asset to the school because she can teach Social Studies and, if necessary, teach ELL Social Studies.  She would be a fantastic resource, especially if the school’s student demographics are trending toward ELL students.  

Evaluate your own situation.  Which candidate would you typify, A or B

Take a moment and answer these questions:

  • Are you specializing in special education and/or ELL?
  • Are you a male seeking an elementary teaching position?
  • Are you going into a discipline that is in high demand, i.e. science and math?
  • Have you done anything to set yourself apart from other job seekers? 

If you have answered “no” I would highly suggest taking additional courses to improve your chances of being hired in the school of your choice.  Moreover, strive to get enough courses to become certified in that new area.  There is no doubt that it’s additional work, but it will pay off.  For one, not only would you be broadening your educational credentials, you will become a better teacher.  From personal experience, I learned a great deal from the additional ESL courses I took.  With 10-20% of my students being ESL, I have been able to better meet their social and learning needs because of my coursework.  Also, having additional certification opens more doors of opportunities.  Perhaps in 2-3 years of teaching you become fatigued and you need a change.  By having that additional certification allows you to pursue new teaching opportunities, perhaps even within the same school.  Lastly, the additional coursework may increase your income by pushing you up in the pay schedule once you begin teaching.  Of course, this will differ from state to state and district to district.



Road to Teaching: A Guide to Teacher Training, Student Teaching, and Finding a Job

In one of my Master’s classes, the professor gave us some advice that she received when she was in college.  She believed it was one of the most important pieces of advice that she received in her academic career.  Her advice is to organize your studies, whenever possible, around a central theme.

What did the professor mean by building on a central theme?  In your preservice training there are numerous scholarly opportunities to do research on topics that are of high interest to you.  The professor explained that when you are given an opportunity to research something of your choosing then stick to one educational topic of interest.  Some possible topics of interests may include: interdisciplinary teaming, cooperating learning, multiple intelligences, or special education.  The benefits of building on a central theme throughout your academic career are:

1) You become an expert on the topic.  With each class you can build on your knowledge of the topic

2) You can reduce your workload.  You can take research you have already completed and use it for another research project.

3) You build great references and research that may be used for a higher degree, whether it is a Masters or a Doctorate.

I thought about my professor’s advice and decided my central theme would be interdisciplinary teaming.  I was passionate about this concept because the school I was intending to student teach practiced interdisciplinary teaming. Therefore, I used interdisciplinary teaming as the driver for my research and studies.  By simply completing a few courses I began to build a wealth of resources on the topic as well as incorporating different prospective into the topic.  Here is a breakdown of the classes that I took that built on my central theme of interdisciplinary teaming:

Adolescent Development – Researched how interdisciplinary teaming contributed to a sense of community and helped meet the adolescent’s need for belonging.

Exceptional Children – Researched the benefits of interdisciplinary teaming in the perspective of special education

Quantitative Research – Added quantitative research and a literature review of the benefits of interdisciplinary teaming

Qualitative Research – Added qualitative research and a literature review of the benefits of interdisciplinary teaming

When you find a topic that interests you and you begin to do research, remember to organize it in a manner that makes the most sense to you.  It might be best to just create a single folder to keep all your work and research together.

Resource Links

Road to Teaching: A Guide to Teacher Training, Student Teaching, and Finding a Job

Student Teacher Topics