Student Teaching: Everything You Need to Know

Student teaching is widely accepted as the most focused way of ensuring students have in-depth experience in the field of education, and it is a requirement for being awarded a teaching degree. It is usually done over a five-week to two-semester period, with student teachers shadowing specific educators at constant times during the day and teaching the same students. This really extensive program allows students to observe their mentoring teachers and do whatever they are doing in that specified period. 

At the onset of the student teaching period, the student is just observing the general environment- to identify the class’s culture & climate while reflecting on the observations made. As both student-teacher and mentor start warming up to each other, the student-teacher is then assigned some teaching tasks by the mentoring teacher. These tasks progress in terms of graduating from being in charge of only one or two classroom activities to taking the lead in most of the classroom activities, and finally, being in charge of the entire classroom. 

Throughout this process, the mentoring teacher supports and directs the student-teacher and gives practical tips on how to solve any specific challenges the student-teacher is facing. After the student-teacher has been in charge of the whole class for a couple of weeks, he/she then begins to gradually ease out of the assigned roles, allowing the mentoring teacher to take over their class.  

While it might not seem like so much activity is going on during the reflection phase, a student-teacher must consider this process to be an extremely important one. Irrespective of whether it is a prerequisite of the program or not, the student-teacher should keep a journal, where daily events are logged in via short, open-ended bullet points. The teaching journal could also include remarks about the mentoring teacher’s style of teaching and overall classroom management. It is very good to also have objectives for the student-teaching experience and to note these down in the student journal, inclusive of the unique style with which one wants to approach overall classroom management. 

In an internship, students are placed in classrooms for two full working days a week. During this period, they can see how the teaching process is conducted, work with small student groups and carry out personal study projects for hands-on learning. Interns are also required to complete tasks from specific co-requisite courses. 

While student-teachers are assigned to schools and eventually take on the work schedule of a full-time educator (all day long, for five days a week, and for the entire semester), interns aim to gain practical knowledge and requisite skills in the teaching profession. In an internship, strong emphasis is placed on making practical long-term, intermediate, and short-term plans to check student performance.  

Faculty members in the College of Education oversee interns, with collaborating mentors guiding the interns to ensure proper development of skills and knowledge in the interns. This mentoring teacher then provides required feedback to both the student and the college advisor on the level of participation and progress attained by the student. 

As an intern, it is imperative to build a strong working relationship with one’s mentoring teacher. Besides the fact that he/she has a role to play in determining your grades, mentoring teachers are treasured sources of education during (and beyond) the internship process. The level of engagement with classroom activities is also largely dependent on one’s rapport with the mentoring teacher. 

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