Spring is in the air and many education majors are planning their student teaching. I remember my student teaching experience as though it were yesterday. Luckily, I knew exactly what age group I wanted to teach: middle school…and I remember my advisor thought I should reconsider, thinking that early elementary would be a better fit for me. So, I split my time between Waterville Junior High and Winslow Elementary. Both schools were welcoming to me, but I was MUCH more comfortable with 7th and 8th graders than I was with 4th. I’m glad I got the experience of working with my cooperating teacher at the fourth grade level, because she is a wonderful person, but teaching-wise, I would have been more prepared for the working world if I had been able to stay in one place.
Now, many universities offer two different ways of completing student teaching. One is the kind most of us completed where there are two placements, each for about eight weeks. The second is called an internship. This allows a college student to observe one teacher at least one day per week for the fall semester and complete their student teaching with that same teacher during the spring semester.
In my humble opinion, one of the most important professional steps teachers can take is to advise a student teacher. So, this year I opted to participate in advising an intern. Since there is an interview process through the university and with prospective teachers, I had more say in whether or not this was someone with whom I thought I could work. In the past teachers in my school have been asked about accepting student teachers, but we haven’t always known them before they appear “on our doorstep”. For me, the new process seemed to be in everyone’s best interest.
Here are the advantages I’ve seen already:
– more in-class time before student teaching
– relationship built with students prior to student teaching
– ready to begin teaching right after the winter break, rather than only getting in 4 or 5 weeks of teaching during a placement
– better understanding of school rules
– vested interest in being a bigger part of the school community
– familiarity with other teachers
– better understanding of the curriculum already covered and expectations for what he/she will teach
– closer relationship with cooperating teacher, building trust
The only downside I’ve been able to come up with is saying good-bye at the end of the spring semester. I’m sure there are probably others, but if people are honest during the interview process, I believe it really works out well.
I can’t really say which is a better scenario for everyone, but I think it’s worthy of consideration. I know for me, being the cooperating teacher of an intern is a better option for me. Maybe it would be for you too!