Part of becoming a teacher is to spend a year getting teaching experience. Student teaching usually takes place during a teaching credential program. It is a requirement for graduation, as well as teacher certification, in the United States.
Student teachers usually go in to meet their host teacher, also called the cooperating teacher, before beginning their time in the classroom. The student teacher is matched with a cooperating teacher through the college that the student is attending. Students are matched to a teacher that teaches the age group and subject that they plan on teaching themselves. At this initial meeting, the host teacher will talk about his or her classroom, and the expectations he or she has for the experience, and the student and host teacher will get to know each other.
On the student teacher's first day of classroom experience, he or she will be introduced to the students in the classroom. The first few weeks of student teaching are for observation. Student teachers will watch how the classroom works, and how the teacher interacts with the students. They may be asked to work one-on-one with a few students during study halls or while the students are doing work at their desks.
After this initial period of observation, the student teacher will start to become more involved in the classroom. This is the time when student teachers will be starting to teach small parts of the class, and engaging more with the students. They begin working to meet their own personal goals for the student teaching experience, as well as those set by the university and the host teacher. Student teachers will be designing and using assessment techniques, as well as creating lesson plans under the supervision of the host teacher.
As student teachers spends more time in the classroom, they will be given more and more responsibilities. During the last several weeks of the time in the classroom, a student teacher will be planning lessons and teaching classes, eventually unsupervised. This is also the time when student teachers become more involved in classroom management. By this time, the host teacher works to assist the student teacher without getting in his or her way. The host teacher can step in if the student teacher needs help, but is essentially just playing a supporting role in the classroom.
Most education students will student teach in two classrooms, usually in two separate school districts. This gives the student a chance to experience different classroom dynamics, as well as get enough experience to prepare for her own classroom. The student teaching experiences usually end with a time of reflection, allowing the student teacher, host teacher, and college professor to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the student. This gives student teachers a chance to set new goals for improvement for the second student teaching experience, or for the first year of teaching. With these goals in mind, they can aim to become better teachers once getting their own classroom in the fall.