Most colleges and universities include student teaching as part of their teacher education programs. Students pursuing teaching degrees are often required to gain student teaching experience in the environment in which they wish to teach, such as early childhood, elementary, middle, or high school classrooms. The amount of classroom teaching required varies college or university; some, for example, require a semester or more of classroom teaching. It is usually a prerequisite for receiving any type of teacher certification and fulfilling all of the requirements of a degree program, whether a bachelor’s or master’s degree.
Student teaching is intended to provide real-world experience to potential teachers, ostensibly to ensure that they are choosing the right profession for them. It can also be added to a person’s resume, which may increase his or her chances of being hired if he or she excelled at their work as a student teacher. Some students save letters of recommendation from their teaching experiences to put in a file or resume, which can help them land a permanent job or get started as a substitute teacher. Many newly graduated teachers will have to work as substitutes for a while before finding a permanent position.
While a student is student teaching, the responsibilities assigned to him or her will vary. Typically, the student will spend some time simply observing the class and the manner in which the current teacher instructs. After that, the student teacher will most likely be in charge of creating lesson plans and activities for the class, and may even begin teaching for a portion of the day. In order for the student teacher to gain as much actual teaching experience as possible, the goal is usually to allow him or her to take control of the class for a period of time and be responsible for teaching for the entire day and grading student assignments.
Student teachers are not compensated for their time, at least while they are still in school; graduate students who complete a practicum may be compensated because they already have a basic teaching certificate. In general, at the end of the student’s internship, the existing teacher supervising the student will provide an assessment, which will also be given to the student’s supervisor at his or her university. This information will be saved in the student’s file and used to determine whether the student will be given credit for their student teaching experience or will have to repeat it.