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Time for some tough love here.  Being a student teacher isn't for the faint of heart.  It will be a busy semester (or year), but you will learn SO much!  The more you put into it, the more you will get out of it.  Hopefully, you'll even get a job out of it!  Here are some tips to make the most of your student teaching experience.

1. Dress professionally 
I can't stress this one enough.  Student teaching is your "job" right now and you need to dress the part.  
Guys - wear a tie, a button down shirt, dress pants and no sneakers!  
Ladies - clothing shouldn't be too low cut or tight (leggings are not pants!), shoes should be dressy, but comfortable (I don't recommend really high heels).

You are going to be working on the floor with students and walking around a lot, so you need to be comfortable, but you also need to be professional.  You should not have a coffee cup in your hand or a cell phone.  For some of the staff in the building, the only interaction you will have is seeing them in the hall.  You want them to have a good first impression of you.

2. Ask questions
Your cooperating teacher is there to help you.  Ask questions if you aren't sure about something or want to know more.  If a teacher has been in the profession for many years, they may forget what it's like to have never been in a classroom before.  Use this opportunity to learn as much as possible about teaching.  

Sometimes your cooperating teacher just isn't open to helping you (it happens).  Seek out another staff member in the building for help if you need to.

3. Be prepared
Actually, be over-prepared.  Have your lessons ready.  Make sure all your materials are ready to go.  Have a back-up in case your lesson doesn't go as planned.  Because...well...rarely do things go as planned in a classroom!  

You will feel more confident if you are truly ready and it will show in your teaching.  Your cooperating teacher is watching (and possibly your professor or even your principal).

4. Be on time
Always, always be on time.  Maybe even a tad early.  Again, you are trying to make a good impression.  Staff members are aware of when you walk into the building each day.   If you are late once, people don't notice.  If you are late once a week, it's pretty obvious.

Yes, there will be a time or two when you have a flat tire or are stuck in traffic.  Make sure you let your cooperating teacher or the office know.  Remember, when you are a teacher, there are 30 little bodies waiting in the hallway for you to show up each day.  Being late is not an option!

Don't go crazy, though.  You don't need to show up at 6am if school doesn't start until 9:00.  You'll be tired before the day even starts!

5. Get involved!
Go to the book fair.  Take part in the staff basketball game.  Volunteer to join a committee.  You'll have fun hanging out with other staff and your students will be excited to see you. Every thing you do will give you a glimpse into what being a teacher is all about!

*Bonus Tip*
Have fun!  As I mentioned before, student teaching is what you make of it.  It can be stressful and overwhelming at times, but it's also a great experience.  Smile, laugh and enjoy learning about being a teacher!

Do you have a student teacher this year?  I have some tips for you!  Hop on over to this post to learn more.
Take Home Book Bags are one of my favorite alternatives to homework for my second graders.  They give my students the opportunity to read at home if they don't have access to books, but also involves their families in the reading process.  To learn more about the what and why of Take Home Book Bags, check out this post.
A great alternative to regular reading homework!  Elementary students take home a bag of books each week to share with their families.  The bag includes not only books, but fun family activities as well!
Today I want to share with you just where I get the materials for my Take Home Book Bags.  Don't worry, I don't break the bank trying to do so!

Book Bags
For the actual book bags, I use the Store More Book Pouches from Really Good Stuff.  They are very durable and the materials all stay inside.  These book pouches also stand up well on the bookshelf when I am storing them.
A great alternative to regular reading homework!  Elementary students take home a bag of books each week to share with their families.  The bag includes not only books, but fun family activities as well!
Ziplock bags or canvas bags also work well.  Each bag gets a label so that it's easy to locate on the bookshelf.
A great alternative to regular reading homework!  Elementary students take home a bag of books each week to share with their families.  The bag includes not only books, but fun family activities as well!
Books
Can books get expensive? Yes, BUT, they don't have to be!  Here are a few tricks that I use to get them cheaply.
A great alternative to regular reading homework!  Elementary students take home a bag of books each week to share with their families.  The bag includes not only books, but fun family activities as well!
First, I dig through my classroom library.  If there are any books that are not in great shape or if I have multiple copies, those go towards my book bags.  Also, if another teacher in the building is cleaning out their classroom, they place books in the teacher's room.  I quickly grab these up!

I also purchase a lot of my books from book sales at my local library.  Hardcover picture books for 25 cents?  Yes please!  The books are used, but most are still in great shape.

Scholastic book orders are another great way to get books for cheap.  You can get books for only a dollar or even for free if you use bonus points!  I have found that the Scholastic Book Fair that we host at our school is often expensive, but the monthly book orders have some great deals.

I go into more detail about purchasing books for cheap in this post.

Journals
I create my own journal by printing writing pages and binding them into a book.  I create one book per bag with enough response pages for each student.  I copy the response pages back-to-back so that way there is extra space if a student needs it.
A great alternative to regular reading homework!  Elementary students take home a bag of books each week to share with their families.  The bag includes not only books, but fun family activities as well!
I know that some teachers have copy limits, though.  The journals can also be created with a composition book or a spiral notebook.  These can be snatched up for cheap from Target or Staples during Back-to-School sales.  Sometimes as cheap as 5 cents! Keep an eye out over the summer for this deal.
Composition Book:
A great alternative to regular reading homework!  Elementary students take home a bag of books each week to share with their families.  The bag includes not only books, but fun family activities as well!

Check-Out
This is super simple.  I just use a pocket chart to track the bags!  I believe my pocket chart is from the Dollar Section at Target.  I then print out and laminate labels for each book bag and a set of class numbers.  I place all the labels on the chart ahead of time and then my students get their number card when they come up to choose their Take Home Book Bag for the week.
A great alternative to regular reading homework!  Elementary students take home a bag of books each week to share with their families.  The bag includes not only books, but fun family activities as well!
File Storage
I like to keep extras of all the game materials, journal pages and worksheets just in case something gets lost.  I use file folders and this file bin that I already happened to have in my classroom.  These materials could easily be stored in a binder or in a file cabinet.  Or you could make the copies as they are needed.
A great alternative to regular reading homework!  Elementary students take home a bag of books each week to share with their families.  The bag includes not only books, but fun family activities as well!

A great alternative to regular reading homework!  Elementary students take home a bag of books each week to share with their families.  The bag includes not only books, but fun family activities as well!

Want to learn more about how I use Take Home Book Bags?  Check out these links:

Take Home Book Bags - The What and Why
Take Home Book Bags - Organization

Take Home Book Bags are one of my favorite alternatives to homework for my second graders.  They give my students the opportunity to read at home if they don't have access to books, but also involves their families in the reading process.  To learn more about the what and why of Take Home Book Bags, check out this post.
A great alternative to regular reading homework!  Elementary students take home a bag of books each week to share with their families.  The bag includes not only books, but fun family activities as well!
Today, I want to share with you how I organize my Take Home Book Bags and what the check-out process looks like.  Once you get into a routine, it is so easy!

Check-Out
My students check-out Take Home Book Bags once a week.  I don't know about you, but in my classroom, Mondays and Fridays were typically very busy days.  So the students check out their book bag on Thursday and return them on Tuesday.  That gave me a day in between to make sure the bags were in order.  It also gave the students an extra day to return their bag if they forgot.  The check-in/check-out process only takes about 8 minutes and I usually do this during Morning Work time.

To check books out, I randomly call students up to the Check-Out pocket chart.  I hand them a card with their class number on it.  They place their number next to the book bag label that they want to check out that week.  They know that only one number can go next to each label.  If another student had already checked it out, they can't choose that one.  I encourage them to choose a new book each week, so that all students can have a turn reading each one.
A great alternative to regular reading homework!  Elementary students take home a bag of books each week to share with their families.  The bag includes not only books, but fun family activities as well!
I have a checklist of all the students and bag names.  When they check out a bag, I put a circle on the chart.  Once they return the bag, a checkmark goes in the circle.  This list makes it easy to see which bags are out and which students have them.  Students are only allowed to have one book bag out at a time.  They are not allowed to choose another one until their current bag has been returned.
A great alternative to regular reading homework!  Elementary students take home a bag of books each week to share with their families.  The bag includes not only books, but fun family activities as well!
Bag Storage
I store the Take Home Book Bags on a shelf in my classroom.  They easily stand up and students are able to quickly search for the bag that they want.  I also place the check-out chart right next to the shelf so that everything is together.  This makes the process so much easier and quicker!
A great alternative to regular reading homework!  Elementary students take home a bag of books each week to share with their families.  The bag includes not only books, but fun family activities as well!
Material Storage
I store extra copies of game pieces and worksheets in a file box.
A great alternative to regular reading homework!  Elementary students take home a bag of books each week to share with their families.  The bag includes not only books, but fun family activities as well!
Each folder is labeled for the bag that it belongs in.  That way I always have the pieces within reach if something gets lost.  The 'T' stands for Themed book bag and the 'A' stands for Author book bag.
A great alternative to regular reading homework!  Elementary students take home a bag of books each week to share with their families.  The bag includes not only books, but fun family activities as well!

Want to learn more about how I use Take Home Book Bags?  Check out the links below:

Take Home Book Bags - The What and Why
Take Home Book Bags - The Materials


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