Student Teaching … Just the Basics

 Are you nervous about student teaching?

Here are some survival tips from NAfME member Christine Nowmos:

  • Be Prepared: Define your objectives for each class. Know your lesson plan and what you want to accomplish, specifically. It’s always better to be over prepared than underprepared; you can always cut down if you have too much material. A big mistake is being unsure of notes or rhythm while teaching. You can easily lose your students if you’re not clear. Being prepared will boost your confidence. Also, don’t be scared to let your lesson grow and change organically while you are teaching.  Just because the lesson is scripted does not at all make it law.
  • Be Professional: Dress and act appropriately. It’s better to be overdressed than too casual. You may want to be strict at first because students will take advantage of your youth and inexperience. The teacher who walks the line as a friend to their students and yet remains the authority will be most successful.  Going too far in either direction is unhealthy.


student teaching


  • Be Prompt: If you are absent or late more than a few times, this can reflect poorly on you regardless of how good a job you do in the classroom. This could also affect your grade. Who wants to hire a young teacher who earned a “B” in student teaching for being late?
  • Be Healthy: Get a good night’s sleep every night, and eat well. 

    new teacher | Highwaystarz Photography
  • Be Open Minded: A negative experience with student teaching doesn’t mean you won’t be a good teacher. Try not to take things personally or get down. Realize that teaching is difficult for most beginners. Take criticism from your mentor with an open mind, and learn from your experience. 
  • Be Educated: The best teachers are always continuing their education after they finish their bachelor’s degree. Take graduate classes, go to workshops, do independent research, and practice your techniques, and take advantage of professional development opportunities provided to you by your professional association.



Is this your first year of teaching music? Click here to access the NAfME First Year Teacher Discount

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A Career Guide for Music Education, 2nd ed.


NAfME Member Christine Nowmos is the general/vocal music teacher of grades pre-K through 4 at Mary S. Shoemaker School in Woodstown, NJ.

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The National Association for Music Education (NAfME) provides a number of forums for the sharing of information and opinion, including blogs and postings on our website, articles and columns in our magazines and journals, and postings to our Amplify member portal. Unless specifically noted, the views expressed in these media do not necessarily represent the policy or views of the Association, its officers, or its employees.

-Becky Spray, January 10, 2012 © National Association for Music Education

-Updated by J.J. Norman, February 2016