As you approach the culmination of your initial career preparation, rest assured that your university support team will meticulously choose a Cooperating Teacher for you. This individual has willingly agreed to mentor you and offer professional guidance as you apply the theories and methods you've learned throughout your teacher preparation coursework. This process generally adheres to the basic curriculum framework set by the teacher, the school, and the district. There may be instances when this plan doesn't perfectly align with some of the more forward-thinking ideas presented at the university. However, it will undoubtedly offer you significant opportunities to witness firsthand what education looks like in a real school setting. In most scenarios, your cooperating teacher will grant you the autonomy to design and execute some specific lessons of your choice. This will give you a taste of the time and effort required to prepare a high-quality lesson, while also allowing you to exercise your creativity.
The most enriching aspect of student teaching is the daily interactions with students. Building relationships with young minds involves much more than just a thorough understanding of educational theory. The bonds you nurture during your student teaching will offer you a sneak peek into what it will feel like when you build relationships with your future students.
Best of luck as you set sail on this incredible career journey. The children you'll impact are absolutely worth every effort.
Karissa recommends the following next steps:
Laurie Pritchard, Ed. S., M.A.T.
Excited to see someone interested in Elementary Education. I was an elementary teacher for 24 years and an elementary school principal for 6 years. It is a very rewarding career, as you have the privilege of positively impacting students' lives.
Student teaching will be a wonderful learning experience for you because you will be working in a real classroom with real students, not just reading about it. Most likely your cooperating teacher will ease you into teaching the entire day. You may start the first week by observing, learning the classroom routine, getting to know the students, and maybe taking on some small group lessons or checking papers. Typically, you will take on one subject each week (if your teacher is self-contained and teaches every subject) until you assume responsibility for teaching the entire day.
Be prepared to work very hard. You will need to learn to manage your time wisely as you plan lessons, gather materials, check papers, communicate with parents (with your cooperating teacher's support), attend staff meetings, and many other responsibilities that come with being a teacher. At times you will feel overwhelmed, so be sure to take advantage of your cooperating teacher's support, knowledge, and experience while you have them.
I will slightly disagree with Karissa's response about 5th and 6th grade being less desirable. Some people feel that Kindergarten and 1st grade are less desirable assignments. When you are student teaching, you will have some opportunities to explore all grade levels by observing other teachers so you can figure out what levels you prefer.
Best to you as you begin your career as an educator!
As a student teacher who just finished her first semester, I can safely say that it varies based on your mentor teacher, university, and yourself!
For me, I was in one classroom for 16 weeks, and I will be in another in the spring. I am elementary, so they tried to do a lower and upper elementary placement in two types of schools.
In terms of what to expect daily, expect to be at school for the contract hours of a teacher. Expect to go to all the events, meetings, and conferences that your mentor is going to. Expect to teach a good amount, but you likely will only get to teach everything for 1-2 weeks. This also can depend on your mentor teacher, some of them can have a little trouble letting go. You will probably observe for the first and last 1-2 weeks, so take that time to figure out what your teacher identity is, and what you might want to implement into your own classroom.
Overall, take everything in while still having fun as a college student. Good luck!