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What do Student Teachers do?

Margo Upson
Updated Jan 24, 2024
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Part of becoming a teacher is to spend a year getting teaching experience. Student teaching usually takes place during a teaching credential program. It is a requirement for graduation, as well as teacher certification, in the United States.

Student teachers usually go in to meet their host teacher, also called the cooperating teacher, before beginning their time in the classroom. The student teacher is matched with a cooperating teacher through the college that the student is attending. Students are matched to a teacher that teaches the age group and subject that they plan on teaching themselves. At this initial meeting, the host teacher will talk about his or her classroom, and the expectations he or she has for the experience, and the student and host teacher will get to know each other.

On the student teacher's first day of classroom experience, he or she will be introduced to the students in the classroom. The first few weeks of student teaching are for observation. Student teachers will watch how the classroom works, and how the teacher interacts with the students. They may be asked to work one-on-one with a few students during study halls or while the students are doing work at their desks.

After this initial period of observation, the student teacher will start to become more involved in the classroom. This is the time when student teachers will be starting to teach small parts of the class, and engaging more with the students. They begin working to meet their own personal goals for the student teaching experience, as well as those set by the university and the host teacher. Student teachers will be designing and using assessment techniques, as well as creating lesson plans under the supervision of the host teacher.

As student teachers spends more time in the classroom, they will be given more and more responsibilities. During the last several weeks of the time in the classroom, a student teacher will be planning lessons and teaching classes, eventually unsupervised. This is also the time when student teachers become more involved in classroom management. By this time, the host teacher works to assist the student teacher without getting in his or her way. The host teacher can step in if the student teacher needs help, but is essentially just playing a supporting role in the classroom.

Most education students will student teach in two classrooms, usually in two separate school districts. This gives the student a chance to experience different classroom dynamics, as well as get enough experience to prepare for her own classroom. The student teaching experiences usually end with a time of reflection, allowing the student teacher, host teacher, and college professor to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the student. This gives student teachers a chance to set new goals for improvement for the second student teaching experience, or for the first year of teaching. With these goals in mind, they can aim to become better teachers once getting their own classroom in the fall.

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Margo Upson
By Margo Upson
With a vast academic background that has ranged from psychology and culinary arts to criminal justice and education, Margo Upson brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her role as a WiseGeek writer. Her wide-ranging interests and skill at diving into new topics make her articles informative, engaging, and valuable to readers seeking to expand their knowledge.
Discussion Comments
By umbra21 — On Jan 31, 2014

@MrsPramm - I must have been lucky, because I had nothing but good experiences as a student teacher. So many teachers in the schools I worked in went out of their way to make me feel welcome and to help me with any problems.

I preferred the practical experiences to the lectures, honestly. I loved being in the classroom as a teacher, but as a student I found it quite tedious.

By MrsPramm — On Jan 30, 2014

@pastanaga - My worst experience was actually the complete opposite. I was in a class of gifted students and the teacher let them get away with anything they wanted. They basically sat and played cards for half the day, with the teacher.

She never yelled at them and she would often give them privileges that other students in the school didn't get. Which basically created a rift between them and the other students.

They were such nice kids too, it was a real shame she treated them like that because it was basically wasting their time. Not to mention, mine.

By pastanaga — On Jan 30, 2014

This can be much more difficult than it sounds for a few reasons. I recently went through teacher training and I found the experience of being in another teacher's classroom to be extremely stressful. I wasn't the only one. Unless you get lucky and have a lovely associate teacher, you are going to find yourself gritting your teeth a lot.

I guess the conflict comes because the student teachers are learning the latest techniques and are generally very full of enthusiasm, while their counterpart might be more old fashioned and cynical. I had to put up with watching my first teacher constantly yelling at the students in her class and there was nothing I could really do to stop it. It's like you get all the attachment of being a real teacher, with none of the ability to change anything.

Margo Upson
Margo Upson
With a vast academic background that has ranged from psychology and culinary arts to criminal justice and education,...
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