You’re in college and well on your way to becoming a teacher! Now it is time to prepare and gain experience in teaching.
Teaching programs have experiential opportunities required for graduation in the form of student teaching and teaching internships.
Most of the time internships are built directly into the curriculum or your program will have partnerships with nearby schools that provide internships.
To get the experience required for becoming a teacher, you must make the most of the internship and experiential opportunities. In this guide, we have everything you need to know before starting your teaching internship!
What are the 5 Phases of Teaching Internships?
Phase I: Anticipation
This phase is immediately preceding or right at the beginning of the internship. The most common feelings are excitement, anxiety, or both. This is normal, as many students tend to second-guess their skills, are unsure of their place in the internship, and generally have many questions about the experience.
It is important to set clear and realistic goals at this phase. This will give you an aim, allowing you to strive towards something instead of going into your internship blind.
Preparation should also include having a conversation with your counselor or the supervising teacher about what to expect from student teaching. This will help you ease your nerves and feel more prepared for the upcoming semester.
Phase II: Disillusionment
Some feelings from the anticipation stage may spill over as you begin your internship. These anxieties before your internship began become disillusionment, especially if what you anticipated differs greatly from what the student teaching is actually like.
At this phase, you will most likely realize how different learning as a student is from learning as a teacher. It is possible that you may become disappointed or disenfranchised with the reality of working in the real world.
Try to recognize that reality may be different from your expectations. It will also be helpful to voice your feelings to your supervising teacher because their role is to help clarify and advise you through your internship. Establish a connection and trust with your supervisor early to be able to move through this stage and normalize the differences between expectations and reality.
Phase III: Confrontation
As the semester continues, you as a student teacher will begin to confront yourself. Remember, this should be your responsibility and your supervising teacher should not be the one to confront you.
You must be proactive during this phase. This is done by reaching out for support if needed, developing your professionalism, and building your competence as a future teacher.
The emphasis will be on gaining confidence in your abilities in teaching and handling the class without as much intervention from the supervising teacher. For example, you may lead an entire class with your supervisor acting as your assistant that day.
Be sure to review, adjust, or create new goals based on your experience so far. By this phase, you should know where you should adjust your aim and should develop specific strategies to work towards those revised goals accordingly.
Phase IV: Competence
With arguably the most difficult phase (confrontation phase) of the internship behind you, you should begin to feel more confident and your initial anxieties should have subsided. With this newfound confidence, more responsibilities will be given to you, as well as more independence from your supervisor.
Overall, you should feel more positive about your role as a student teacher than in the past phases. You should feel like your contributions are meaningful, your coworkers will begin to acknowledge your capabilities as a future teacher, and you will feel more self-motivated to succeed.
Your focus will be geared more toward building interpersonal skills and professionalism, rather than the basic skills and tasks required of a teacher. Your supervisor should be mentoring you through the nuances of the profession, such as interacting with parents or disciplining troublesome students.
Throughout this stage, it is common that your relationship with your supervisor will feel more like a partnership.
Phase V: Culmination
When entering this phase of your internship, congratulations are in order. At this phase, your student teaching internship should be approaching its end. At this time, it is important to reflect on your experiences and relationships with the people throughout the internship.
You will begin to plan for the future and potential job opportunities. This phase is the perfect opportunity to look to your supervisor for recommendation letters or placement opportunities.
Be sure to avoid prematurely withdrawing from the teaching internship. Speak with your supervisor to complete any unfinished tasks or curriculum before your internship is completed.
With the completion of the “culmination” phase, you have officially completed your student teaching internship!
What are the Student Teaching Objectives of an Internship?
Education students work continuously within a classroom under the supervision of an established teacher during their student teaching. The student teacher will not have any other coursework and will be entirely devoted to teaching the class they are assigned to. Student teaching typically lasts the entire semester.
Provide Teaching Experience
The most important objective of student teaching is to provide the education student with opportunities to practice the job of a teacher progressively. Throughout the semester, you will slowly be given more autonomy and responsibilities. This internship will be a hands-on experience that cannot be taught in a classroom.
Interacting with Students and the School System
A student teaching internship will put you directly into the classroom. This will give you experience in how students act and will familiarize you with the school system. There is no better way to understand both students and education than being in the classroom.
Improve Self-Confidence in a Leadership Position
Being a leader is difficult, yet necessary when leading an entire class of students. The first step is building self-confidence through continuous exposure to a leadership position as a student teacher. This will be most effective when taught through a student teaching internship.
Opportunities for Mentoring and Professional Growth
As a student teacher, you will be working directly under a seasoned teacher. This is one of your best resources. Ask plenty of questions, see what works for them, and establish open communication. Your supervisor will help you navigate the lessons you learn when you are teaching.
4 Responsibilities of a Student Teacher
Being Organized and Prepared
As a teacher responsible for a cohort of students, organization, and preparation go hand-in-hand and are a crucial part of succeeding as a student teacher.
Organization starts with open communication with your supervising teacher about your schedule. You will be responsible for organizing and turning in a teaching schedule to your supervisor, most likely weekly.
Preparation should include learning outside the classroom. This can include reading up on additional resources beyond the required texts to further enrich your lesson plans. You can also practice your lesson plans and allow for flexibility, which will prepare you for interruptions and time constraints.
Giving Proper Instruction
Being able to instruct your class is the job description of a teacher. You must deliver important concepts of the subject that your students can retain.
Observation is key. You should be observing your supervisor and studying how students of different backgrounds learn to promote a multicultural learning environment.
Not every student learns the same way; often you will have several students who all learn differently and it is your responsibility to incorporate a variety of teaching styles to teach effectively.
Be sure to be clear with your instructions and incorporate some open-ended questions to promote individual thinking. You should also have social activities sprinkled throughout your lesson plans to teach your students how to work together and how interact with one another. Having your students ask questions and formulate their ideas will also foster creativity in their thinking, which should be encouraged.
Building Student Relationships
Arguably the most difficult part about being a student teacher, building proper relationships and a healthy learning environment for your students can be challenging due to the balance of strictness and friendliness required.
It is important to establish respect from the students while respecting them and listening to them as well. Clear boundaries are very important when dealing with children at any age.
Balancing boundaries with attentiveness and kindness is essential for ensuring an environment where the students feel safe sharing their ideas. This can be done by being a good listener, which the students will appreciate.
As with any job, holding yourself as a professional is important to the image of yourself and your school. Parents talk to other families and how you carry yourself as a teacher may determine how successful your career will become.
Knowing your school’s policies and procedures is a great place to start. Schools will always have a dress policy; avoid wearing revealing clothing or anything too casual, such as athletic clothes or open-toed shoes. Confidentiality is also an important policy and you should avoid being involved in gossip about students, parents, or staff.
A great way to learn about how your school expects you to operate is to attend any school or parent meetings and any education seminars hosted by your school.
3 Best Internships for Education Students
There are different teaching majors and you should pursue a teaching internship related to the major that you are seeking. For example, if you are an elementary education major, you should opt for a teaching internship that is in that age range.
We have included three teaching internships at different grade levels and specialties, but look at what opportunities are near your home or university. Your university also has partnerships with nearby schools, so take advantage of those as well.
Duke University Teaching Internship
Duke University offers both elementary and secondary education student teaching internships. They are capstone courses that will be taken during your senior year.
Michigan State University Teaching Internship
Michigan State University’s student teaching internship is made up of two semesters, divided into seven phases. The internship takes place primarily in Michigan, but also has a location in Chicago, IL, or international locations, such as Beijing, China.
California State University, Northridge offers a variety of different special education internships. This includes deaf and hard of hearing, early childhood special education, mild/moderate disabilities, and moderate/severe disabilities.
Can You Graduate Without Internships?
Some schools will allow you to graduate without completing an internship, but this is highly variable depending on your program.
Becoming a teacher without an internship depends on the state you are trying to work in, however, the majority of states require the completion of a student teaching internship to be eligible for licensure.
Furthermore, even if your state does not require it, we highly recommend that you complete one anyway. The experience in a live setting cannot be taught in a classroom and will help you to become a competent teacher in the future.
Be sure to check your school’s requirements as well as the state licensure requirements before making this decision.
Wrapping Things Up: 3 Student Teaching Internships
Student teaching internships are a fantastic part of any university’s curriculum to graduate confident and competent teachers. Good communication with your supervising teacher will be the key to success throughout your internship, as well as outside preparation. Good luck in your future endeavors as a student intern and as a student teacher!
Want to read more about internships? We’ve got a range of articles that may interest you.