By Christine Ly ’16
During the process of becoming a full time teacher, many aspiring teachers serve as student teachers to gain more experience. Student teaching is the opportunity for a college student to go into a classroom and work with a cooperating teacher in order to learn how to make students work to their best potential.
Student teachers in New York City public schools are able to gain hands-on experience with a diverse student population before they make the decision to commit their lives to teaching.
Individuals who attend certain colleges are required to show their ability to run a class alone, so student teaching would be a good path to take.
According to the NY Times article, Building a Better Teacher by Elizabeth Green, only those who demonstrate that they have the ability to control a classroom in a “practice school” are able to graduate and become future teachers.
To become a more qualified teacher, one must learn instructional strategies, assessment practices, and classroom management skills. These skills will be gained when an individual works as a student teacher. The benefits are not only for the student teacher, but for the students as well.
“It’s like having a second pair of eyes in the classroom so while I’m busy teaching he can see what other things are happening in the class that the cooperating teacher should be aware of,” said Dr. Stephan Riemersma, physics teacher. “When students are given a problem, there are two sources the student can call on if they get stuck in a certain part.“
Julie Tso ’16 said, “I have a student teacher in my class, and he is capable of helping students around the classroom whenever they need help.”
Student Teachers also may get the chance to teach the class as a whole. As stated in the article What We Can Learn from Student Teachers by Marta Sweeney in the Marymount Magazine, student teachers usually start off with simple instructions until their cooperating teacher is confident enough in allowing the student teacher to run a whole class lesson.
“In Dr. R’s class I’m facilitating student work and shortly will be taking more responsibility in at least one of the periods,” said Mr. William Hudacek, student teacher. “I do some grading and also am involved in planning primary instructions for different classes.”
Mr. Hudacek is currently one of the five student teachers in the MAT (Master of Arts in Teaching) Program from the American Museum of Natural History. This program provides two semester long residency experiences in classrooms for the student teachers.
Student teachers not only help teach the class, but they can also watch the class from a student’s perspective as well. This will help the student teacher get a sense of how the students feel and they can use this knowledge to adjust their own lessons in the future.
“It was so eye-opening that I wish I could go back to every class of students I ever had right now and change a minimum of ten things – the layout, the lesson plan, the checks for understanding. Most of it!” said Alexis Wiggins in the article, Teacher spends two days as a student and is shocked at what she learns by Valerie Strauss of The Washington Post.
The student teachers will be able to experience different perspectives of the classroom and use that to their advantage in the future as an official teacher.
“It’s definitely good and beneficial to be in the classroom at anytime,” said Mr. Hudacek, “It’s where the majority of the learning for me is taking place and the best part of my week.”
According to the National Council on Teacher Quality’s report, Student Teaching in the United States, passing or failing student teaching determines whether an individual will be recommended for certification as a licensed teacher. Student teaching is not a requirement to gain a license in teaching; however, it is recommended that an individual has some form of experience for teaching.
Some may avoid student teaching and find other alternative ways to become a teacher.
However, as stated in the National Council on Teacher Quality’s report, Student Teaching in the United States, surveys of new teachers suggest that student teaching is the most important part of their teaching training experience.
In a classroom setting, a student teacher also does not have as much authority as the main teacher. This can be a disadvantage, as students will not pay attention to what the student teacher has to say.
However, overcoming this experience will only make the student teacher become a stronger teacher in the future. They will be able to grasp the ability of controlling a whole class by themselves.
“I think this is beneficial for them because they will get an unvarnished, in class experience and get to see really what happens in a classroom,” said Dr. Riemersma.
Overall, having more student teachers will create more experienced teachers in the future and help students along the way.