If you are embarking on the great adventure of teaching, you must bring a love of learning, enthusiasm, and a natural ability to relate with students with you for the journey. Be prepared for many challenges in order to become certified. From your years of coursework to state exams, the road to teaching involves a host of requirements. The final culmination of your degree program will be student teaching, in which you will spend a minimum of hours in the classroom putting theory into action. This is the most exciting point when you can apply your knowledge and feel the thrill of accomplishment, knowing that you will soon hold a position of your own as you stand in front of a class and guide young minds toward a bright future.
Student Teaching: What Can I Expect?
While specific requirements vary by state, student teaching or practicum is a standard requirement for certification. In general, a student’s final semester of college is devoted to observation and student teaching. Specific requirements of student teaching will vary. See a study compiled by the National Council on Teacher Quality for a review of the goals of student teaching, as well as the design of practicum programs and student teachers’ experiences. This experience is beneficial in exposing students to different age groups, styles of teaching, and special education in order to provide a repertoire of skills. Observations and student teaching also help students identify their strengths and areas of interest.
What is Involved in Student Teaching?
The semester of student teaching is often broken up into two assignments. When preparing for elementary education, prospective teachers will be assigned to different age groups for each session in order to have a better understanding of what is expected at each level. The initial observation period involves watching the classroom teacher in action, learning the routines, and becoming familiar with the youth in the classroom. The teacher may ask the student teacher to take on clerical duties such as attendance and grading as a first step. Gradually, the student teacher will begin to take charge of the classroom, beginning with one subject at a time. By the end of the practicum, the student teacher will have a solo period, running all aspects of the classroom. Student teaching often involves creating a unit of study that must be implemented, a case study about an individual student, and a portfolio of material that has been collected during the student teaching session.
How is a Student Teacher Evaluated?
Student teachers are evaluated during their practicum by the classroom teacher and a staff member from the college. These authoritative sources will provide constructive criticism and suggestions for improvement.
Student teaching is a rewarding experience, and one that allows prospective teachers to engage with students in the real world. While your teaching degree program will certainly include a minimum number of student teaching hours in the classroom, it is to your benefit to go beyond the basic requirements and observe or teach whenever possible, whether you’re engaging in your university’s practicum program, observing a local teacher, or volunteering to tutor on the weekends.