Student Teaching

In addition to having a bachelor's degree and completing an approved teaching preparation program, most teachers, including those with or pursuing special education degrees, must complete some supervised student teaching. Many special education programs require a year of student teaching at the end of their coursework. Student teaching takes place in a classroom under the supervision of a licensed, professional teacher. If nothing else, student teaching allows a prospective teacher to decide if education is truly the career for him or her because of its hands-on nature. For aspiring special education teachers, student teaching also allows insight into his or her true teaching ability and potential.

The student teaching experience is very important for a number of reasons. Primarily, it provides real-world classroom experience to aspiring teachers. What he or she remembers from being a student in a classroom as a child is often different than what a teacher leading a class needs to know. Student teaching also allows the opportunity for aspiring teachers to take what they have learned in their college coursework and apply it to real special education students.

In addition, student teachers are able to observe working education professionals as part of their experience, and have the professional teacher observe them. This mentoring aspect allows student teachers to understand what needs to be done day to day to plan and prepare for class, teach the class, and handle related classroom management and administrative issues like working with the school's schedule. Student teachers also construct bulletin boards and other displays in some programs. Student teachers are able to observe how experienced teachers interact with students, administrators, and families as well.

As part of the student teaching experience, many student teachers are allowed or even required to take charge of the class for a week. They also usually write and teach one unit of instruction on which they are evaluated. Student teachers must also reflect on and evaluate their teaching skills and performance in the classroom through a daily journal or other means. Personal evaluation is an important part of the student teaching experience, especially when done in regular collaboration with the classroom teacher. Student teachers not only have to work with a working classroom teacher, but also have a supervisor from their college or university with whom they must meet. The classroom teacher usually provides an evaluation of the student teacher, both for the student teacher's benefit as well as the supervisor, so a grade can be provided for the student teacher's work.

Last Updated: 05/07/2014

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