Student teaching is a college-supervised instructional experience; usually the culminating course in a university or college undergraduate education or graduate school program leading to teacher education and certification. Examples of programs include Early Childhood (Birth-Grade 3), Middle Childhood (Grades 4-9), and Adolescence to Young Adult (Grades 7-12). It is required by those earning either a Bachelor of Education or Master of Education degree, as well as liberal arts Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts degrees with a major in education.
Student teaching is required for students who are not yet certified to teach. It is different from a practicum, which is required when a student already holds certification to teach, yet wants a certificate extension to teach another area of specialization; they are both college-supervised field-based experiences.
The student teaching experience lasts about the length of a semester or quarter; long enough to fulfill the college’s assigned tasks. It is an unpaid internship. This experience gives the prospective teaching professional an opportunity to teach under the supervision of a permanently certified master teacher (see schoolmaster).
The student teacher is usually placed in a neighboring or participating school. The student teacher is monitored by the cooperating teacher from the school, as well as a supervisor through the college. The supervisor acts as a liaison between the cooperating teacher and the head of the college’s student teaching department.
The student teacher normally shadows the cooperating teacher for about one week, eventually gaining more responsibility in teaching the class as the days and weeks progress. Eventually, the student teacher will assume most of the teaching responsibilities for the class including class management, lesson planning, assessment, and grading. Thus, the student teacher is able to more fully experience the role of the teacher as the classroom teacher takes on the observation role in the class. There is sometimes a "phasing out" week when the student teacher returns the teaching role back to the regular teacher.
The supervisor, as well as cooperating teacher, monitor the progress of the student teacher throughout the experience, ensuring satisfactory work. A grade of Pass or Fail in student teaching, as well as satisfactory completion of a school's education program, is an indication as to whether the college recommends the student for certification to teach.
Student teaching as a learning challenge
Student teaching has been used as a challenge to foreign language learners to facilitate the integration of their language skills by placing them at the center of classroom activities.
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