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Student teaching: good for teachers, not students

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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.

3 Comments

3 Responses to “Student teaching: good for teachers, not students”

  1. Evan on April 26th, 2010 4:11 pm

    Where do you propose that student teachers get hands-on learning experience if it’s not in public schools? It’s no doubt that student teachers cannot provide the same resources that veteran teachers can, but student teaching is simply an inevitability.

    Also, it’s the job of the supervising teacher to make sure that students are never marginalized by student teachers. If you feel like your learning environment is being that seriously disrupted by a student teacher, you should let the supervising teacher know so that you can get the education you deserve.

    RB has not taken on many student teachers in recent history, so maybe that speaks to your argument–but if this is reflected in a belief that student teachers disenfranchise students unreasonably, it’s a myopic belief that does not put much faith in RBs touted faculty.

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  2. Angela Gonzales on May 10th, 2010 12:48 pm

    I agree with the position you’ve taken on student teachers. In my experience student teachers have only done me harm.
    In almost all cases with a student teacher I’ve gone from getting a high A to C. It’s honestly terrible. I don’t know where student teachers should get their experience, but it shouldn’t be in a class that has an Advanced Placement Exam that needs to be passed in order to get college credit.
    Almost all of my teachers didn’t even sit in the room when the student teachers would take over and it was honestly a joke. I went from understanding everything to understanding nothing. Someone who is learning should not be allowed to completely take over a classroom of students who are also learning.
    I believe student teachers should observe for a lot longer than they do and not take over a class until they are completely ready. It also should be the job of the teacher to tell them if they’re doing a bad job. It might hurt their feelings but it will help them in the long run. Student teachers have not helped me. They’ve only hurt me.

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  3. Erin Van Buskirk on May 10th, 2010 1:00 pm

    I agree with student teachers messing up what is going on in the classroom.

    I think that teachers should help them keep the way they do things in class. It is the teacher’s job to help them learn how to be in front of the class teaching students.

    Students are always complaining on how much they don’t learn when student teachers are running the class. They talk about how different it is to have more or less homework and different types of tests. Students don’t seem to like how much of a
    difference student teachers bring to the class.

    I think the teachers should just help out the student teachers more and have them keep the students on the same routine they had before.

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Student teaching: good for teachers, not students