All music educators must go through the final test of becoming a real teacher known as student teaching. As a young percussionist, I feel there are some things you, the reader, should know about how to have a fun and positive student teaching experience.
1. Know your role. So many of us in the percussion world have been fortunate enough to work with marching bands during the fall and get them to perform beautifully by the seasons end. When I was student teaching during marching season it really helped me to establish a positive and non-threatening relationship with the existing percussion director. Many of us have had experience with Drum Corps, and offering that information can be beneficial but not everyone works the way you do. The most important thing is to always remember that you are a visitor to the program and always consult with the directors on ideas you may have that way you are not going behind each others backs on approach, technique, or music changes. Address concerns, but also know when to let things go.
2. Be flexible. Even though I am a percussionist, I dove right in to teaching a majority of the woodwind, brass, colorguard, and visual block sectionals. Since student teaching is a time to work with every group and develop band directing skills, take advantage of every opportunity presented. The key to making this part successful is proper planning, reviewing of instrument pedagogy, and remaining professional during on-the-spot teaching moments. Having a plan for every day is essential to making this a smooth process, even if you think you won't teach a certain class that day, always have a plan in case the copperating teacher is sick or has somewhere to be during that class.
3. Be thankful. These cooperating teachers are taking on the responsibility of your experience at not much benefit to them. At the end of your short time together, think about what they gave up to have you there and SHOW THANKS for their sacrafices. Do you think you stumbling through teaching a woodwind sectional your first time really helped them progress as a program? Probably not, so its always a great idea to show thanks in some way, shape, or form. I gave a few gift cards out to the directors at their favorite restaurants as a small token of thanks and in return they offered me awesome letters of recommendations when It came time to ask for them. Karama is a real thing and it can help when you least expect it.
4. Go above and beyond. No one wants to be the last one to leave the band hall on a late school night and be back the next day bright and early. Since you as the student teacher are not there full-time like the directors are, offer to stay as late as necessary to get the job done whatever it may be. There were times I set up the band hall after school and let the directors go home early just to show them that I really cared about the program, and them as people. They have families too and practicallly live at the band hall. Show some initiative and thanks for all that they do by making their lives a little easier. It makes you look good in the process too and shows the directors that they can trust you to get the job done when the going gets tough.
5. Have fun. Remember why you wanted to become a director in the first place. Was it because of your inspiring lesson teacher?, your funny mentor director? life-long friends in band? whatever the reason, I am glad you are reading this and care enough to think about these things. The best part about teaching is how you can inspire young people to become better adults. Enough said.
College is done and I am looking forward to the next chapter in life with graduate school.