A year of teaching experience is required as part of the process of becoming a teacher. During a teaching credential program, student teaching is common. In the United States, it is a requirement for graduation and teacher certification.
Before beginning their time in the classroom, student teachers usually meet their host teacher, also known as the cooperating teacher. Through the college where the student is enrolled, the student teacher is paired with a cooperating teacher. Students are paired with a teacher who teaches the same age group and subject that they intend to teach. The host teacher will talk about his or her classroom and the expectations he or she has for the experience during this initial meeting, and the student and host teacher will get to know one another.
The students in the classroom will be introduced to the student teacher on the first day of classroom experience. Observation is the goal of the first few weeks of student teaching. Students will observe how the classroom functions and how the teacher interacts with the students. During study halls or while students are working at their desks, they may be asked to work one-on-one with a few students.
The student teacher will begin to become more involved in the classroom after this initial period of observation. This is when student teachers will begin to teach small sections of the class and become more involved with the students. They start working toward their own personal goals for the student teaching experience, as well as the university’s and the host teacher’s goals. Under the supervision of the host teacher, student teachers will design and implement assessment techniques as well as create lesson plans.
As student teachers spend more time in the classroom, more responsibilities will be assigned to them. A student teacher will plan lessons and teach classes during the last few weeks of the semester in the classroom, eventually unsupervised. This is also the time when student teachers begin to take on more responsibility in the classroom. By this point, the host teacher is focused on assisting the student teacher while remaining out of the way. The host teacher can assist the student teacher if necessary, but the role of the host teacher in the classroom is essentially that of a supporter.
The majority of education students will do their student teaching in two classrooms, usually in two different school districts. This provides the student with the opportunity to observe various classroom dynamics as well as gain sufficient experience to prepare for her own classroom. Student teaching experiences typically conclude with a period of reflection, which allows the student teacher, host teacher, and college professor to evaluate the student’s strengths and weaknesses. This allows student teachers to set new improvement goals for their second student teaching experience or their first year of teaching. They can aim to become better teachers once they get their own classroom in the fall if they keep these goals in mind.