So you think you got what it takes to take on a classroom full of teenagers? Or worse yet, five-year-olds?
If you've mastered the theory of teaching but the idea of actually being in charge of a whole army of kids still gives you the jitters, then hey: start counting your blessings. That's the whole point of student teaching: that you get the practice, without the burden of responsibility.
At least, not the entire burden.
After all, if you're in a teaching program, then at some point you're going to be required to cross this bridge, either through a practicum or student teaching (they're essentially the same, but the practicum is a lot shorter). You have to gain some experience in order to gain your license, and that's where getting thrown into the fire o' the classroom comes in.
The good news is that you will be guided every step of the way during student teaching. You will have your own professor who's overseeing your progress and you'll have your mentor teacher in the classroom in question.
The bad news? You'll still be super-nervous. But that's totally normal.
When you student teach, you'll start by observing other teachers and then move to planning, until you ultimately take complete control of the classroom once your turn rolls around.
Throughout this process, your mentor teacher and supervisor will guide you. They will plan with you, observe you, give helpful advice and feedback, and support you every step of the way. Sounds nice, right?
Before you call up that mentor at 2:00AM to ask all your questions (please. don't.), here's a taste of some of our fave FAQs:
- When will I get to do my student teaching? Hold your horses, cowboys and cowgirls. You'll have to wait until your last semester. You'll probably have a practicum before that time, so there's hope for those of you who are champing at the bit to get into the classroom. But as for extended student teaching, it'll be right near the end of completing your coursework.
- How long will student teaching last? Somewhere around 6-8 weeks, and you might actually divide that among grade levels if you're looking to get certification across grade levels (such as secondary and middle school, or middle school and elementary endorsements, for example).
- What will my day look like? Pretty much look to your mentor teacher's day and his or her schedule will be your schedule. That teacher's content will be your content. You'll become their twin for the duration of your student teaching experience. Freaky-deaky.
- How soon will I be allowed to teach? In general, teaching comes after a few weeks of observing your mentor teacher teaching, but it may be different with your specific situation. Be patient, young Padawan.
- Will I spend all my time with one teacher? Here's where things can get mixed up. Some folks divide their time among several teachers, and some stick with only one. You need to determine what your endorsement requires for the certification you want, and you'll need to talk with your supervising professor to see how best to handle your personal sitch. Communication is key here, so make sure you figure out how to fulfill all the requirements that'll get you the endorsements you want