Yes I realise I’m stating the obvious here, but yes prac is difficult. You are essentially walking into someone else’s classroom with someone else’s students with already established routines, and even if you are introduced effectively and professionally (as I am lucky enough to have been), you are still to a certain extent seen as a visitor by the students and they treat you accordingly. No such thing as the students taking it easier on you cos you’re a uni student – they try their best to test your limits!
That being said however, prac is a really valuable time to learn as much as humanly possible about classroom management, and about the technology available for use in the classroom and to practice using it. It is also a lot easier than taking a full teaching load, and usually less hours involved than for the permanent staff as much as you do try to get involved in as much as possible. I am 2 days into my final 20 day placement, and it has finally clicked that content is not anywhere near as important as practicing your classroom management skills on your prac. Think about it – with no experience in the classroom but at least an undergrad degree under your belt in your chosen field, which are you going to be better at – content or classroom management? Ahhhhhhh…..
I have also learnt that consistency is key. Not only within the classroom, but a whole school approach can really make a big difference. My school has developed a whole school Positive Behaviour for Learning (PBL) plan over the last few years which all staff have had input into, and school rules are visible and actively taught and reinforced in every class. So it doesn’t matter what class the students are in or what teacher they have, the rules and expectations are always the same. That also makes it really easy for a newcomer like me to come in and take a class, as they already know the rules, and I just have to remind them. Regularly. But it works!