For many students at Leesville, student teachers have become commonplace. By the time most graduates have concluded high school, they will have had at least one student teacher. The opinions regarding these individuals, however, tend to differ among the actual student teachers, veteran teachers and students. So the question remains—how beneficial is student teaching?
Student Teacher’s Perspective
For college students majoring in education, a professor’s lectures are only so effective. Classroom instruction is not adequate to prepare a prospective teacher for the job world. In order to overcome this obstacle, many education majors partake in the practice of student teaching.
Ms. Wilgus, a student at Appalachian State, and a student teacher for Mr. Hunt’s U.S. History class, is grateful for the opportunity to learn applicable skills.
“It’s easier for me because I don’t have the same amount of work as a regular teacher, that way I can focus more time on learning what techniques work for me,” Wilgus said.
Student teaching is an effective way for hopeful teachers to gain experience without being overwhelmed with the total bulk of the job—a time commitment too great for most college students.
“It’s [teaching] a lot of work!” Wilgus said. “I can’t even imagine going straight into the workforce.”
View of the Veteran Teacher
Without the supervision of veteran teachers, student teaching would be impossible. By observing and experimenting under the watch of an exemplary teacher, young hopefuls can learn new techniques and perfect their craft.
“It was nice to see someone else’s behavior management techniques and then was allowed to come up with and implement my own. It’s also useful to practice interacting with students in a daily routine,” said Ms. Riley, a second-year math teacher. “ College prepares you for the ‘textbook’ aspect of teaching, but the actual student teaching experience is where it all comes together, and you get to apply your knowledge, while also learning more about how to run your own classroom one day.”
Ms. Mayfield, a pre-calculus teacher, relished the experience of student teaching. “It was the single most beneficial experience of college for teaching. Just being in the room and being part of the atmosphere really helped me become the teacher I am today.”
According to Mayfield, even though student teachers undertake a large risk by attempting to educate students armed only with classroom knowledge, the students are in no real danger.
“It really varies how effective student teachers are. It is our hope that they will do well, but they don’t have as much experience—so it’s tougher. If I notice that they are struggling to help the students, I’ll step in. I won’t let my students take the fall.”
Despite the necessity, many Leesville students disapprove of student teaching. Even though the practice is vital to ensure the production of the next successful generation of teachers, students generally feel that these inexperienced individuals are under qualified to handle such responsibility.
“Even though student teachers are really nice, and they mean well…. I just need someone with more experience. Some classes are just too important to sacrifice my grades for the sake of their learning.” said an anonymous Pre-Calc student.
Andrew Bowers, sophomore, differs from the majority.
“I know a lot of kids don’t like student teachers, but I think that the student teacher we have in Mrs. Vining’s class does a really good job. One day when she was absent, he took over, and I don’t think my learning suffered.”
Other students feel that student teachers all succumb to similar methods of teaching, lacking the creativity that veteran teachers develop over time.
Karley St. Pierre, junior, agrees. St. Pierre’s mother teaches at Leesville Middle, and she has witnessed many angles of the education system through her parent and parent’s coworkers.
“Younger teachers run the class the way they want—not in a way in which the kids can learn best. They [student teachers] try to simplify teaching and make it into a science. Here are the overhead notes, study, now take your test. The way they do it is robotic, and teaching’s just not. There’s no formula that will produce a good lesson plan, or teacher—that just takes time.”