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Frequently Asked Questions and Answers About Student Teaching


Those who are starting out as student teachers often have certain questions about what this experience involves and what to expect from it. Knowing the answers to these questions can help first-time student teachers understand more about this role, so they can go into it feeling prepared.

Is student teaching required?
Yes, student teaching is required for those who are working toward getting their teaching certificate. This provides firsthand experience in the classroom that can help student teachers prepare for a career as an educator. Student teachers are placed in schools based on their majors, such as elementary education or higher education. In order to participate in student teaching, many school district policies require education students to undergo an FBI background check.

Is the mentor teacher always present?
While this is up to the individual mentor teacher, many do leave student teachers alone in the classroom from time to time as long as they feel comfortable doing so. This gives student teachers an opportunity to experience what it is like to be fully in charge of a classroom on their own. Mentor teachers might leave student teachers alone for different reasons and lengths of time, such as taking a short phone call or attending an hour-long meeting.

What happens if there is a substitute teacher?
If the mentor teacher is absent and a substitute teacher is there instead, student teachers are generally expected to be in charge of classroom duties. The substitute teacher usually observes the classroom and offers assistance when needed. Student teachers should check with mentor teachers at the beginning of the year to see if they prefer having the substitute primarily teach when they are out for the day.

Do student teachers begin teaching immediately?
In most cases, student teachers start out by observing the mentor teacher. They are usually given one or more subjects to teach at first before handling all of the class subjects. The amount of time this takes depends on when the student teacher and mentor teacher are comfortable having the student teacher assume the responsibility of teaching all subjects.

What responsibilities do student teachers have?
Student teachers have a number of responsibilities to manage. These include coming up with lesson plans, adhering to school policies, establishing trust and earning the respect of students, building a rapport with mentor teachers and school staff and meeting with mentor teachers to discuss areas of improvement. Student teachers are also usually responsible for going to school functions that their mentor teacher attends, such as parent-teacher conferences, after school events and meetings.

What is a typical day like for student teachers?
Student teachers generally arrive at school early and go over tasks for the day with their mentor teacher. At the beginning of the year, student teachers typically observe their mentor teacher and take notes to discuss with them after school. They also provide mentor teachers with any assistance they need throughout the day. When student teachers begin taking over the classroom, they spend the day focusing on teaching different subjects and working on lesson plans or grading assignments during any prep time they have. After school, student teachers usually discuss any issues that came up during the day and go over lesson plans for the following day.

These questions and answers give student teachers a general idea of what to expect from their experience. Student teachers should keep in mind that they can ask their mentor teachers any other questions they have about how they should prepare and what else they need to know before they begin teaching.

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