Student teaching: good for teachers, not students

What do student teachers do for a class room? For anyone who hasn’t had a student teacher or doesn’t know what a student teacher is, they are a graduate or undergraduate student who teaches a class for a certain period of time in order to prepare for a job in teaching after graduating.

This may be a very helpful tool for these student teachers and may even be beneficial for the full-time teacher to observe what they are doing, but what is the effect on students in the classroom?

I have nothing against student teachers and believe that they do a great job, but I do not believe that they benefit students.

Throughout the year, students grow accustomed to their teachers. They know what to expect when they walk in, they know how the class is run, and they know how to talk to their teacher about grades. Whether the teacher is their favorite or not, they still are in the habit of doing things that particular teacher’s way.

When a student teacher enters the picture, a student’s routine in that class can be changed dramatically. The tests can be run differently, the homework might be more than usual, the rules of the classroom can change, it makes it harder to actually talk to your normal teacher about things, and it changes the mood of the learning environment that the student has established in that class.

Because the bond between the original teacher and the student is not present with the student teacher, chaos is more likely in a classroom under a student teacher. Student teachers may assign a different amount of homework, generate tests of different difficulty, and generally run class differently.

Now I’m not saying that student teachers do a bad job, because a lot of them do a great job, but the real problem is that their prescence messes up the student’s everyday pattern.

The harder the class is for someone, the more of an effect a student teacher will have on the student in that class. That’s why honors and AP classes should never have a student teacher. In a tough course such as an AP or honors, there needs to be order and structure.

Overall I don’t think student teachers are a good idea for school. There should be a different program where student teachers get to practice hands on teaching instead of public schools. Student teachers should teach before they become a teacher, but they need to find new ways to get their experience that doesn’t negatively impact student learning. Perhaps students could take a vote throughout the school to see if they are comfortable with student teachers teaching their classes.

I have the utmost respect for student teachers and I truly think they do a great job, but it just makes it harder for a student who is trying to learn.