What Is the Student Teaching Experience Like?

Part of the journey toward becoming a teacher involves applying your training and knowledge to a real-world classroom. During the student teaching experience, you’ll learn to lead in the classroom under the guidance of an experienced educator.

Taking the leap from theory to practice can be an entirely new experience, but it provides a valuable opportunity to gain confidence in your teaching ability. Here’s what can you expect from the student teaching experience, as well as some insight into how can it make you a better teacher.

Gaining Confidence in the Classroom

To make the most of the experience, student teachers should come prepared to take on a leadership role, like recent Azusa Pacific University graduate Rene Engle ’16, Single Subject Teaching Credential ’17, did. Engle is a first-year teacher in the Azusa Unified School District, currently working at the same school where she fulfilled her student teaching requirement. While it turned out to be a little different from what she had expected, she is grateful for her time in the classroom—and for everything she learned in the process.

Before entering the classroom as a student teacher, Engle said she didn’t have a lot of first-hand experience in educating others. Although she studied hard in each of her courses, she hadn’t yet gained much real-world practice. “I had only ever taught a few lessons that were short and most were with groups of peers who were working alongside me in the program,” Engle noted. On top of that, she was assigned to work with high school students, which required a different approach than the middle school classroom she expected to be placed in.

Engle was able to quickly find her footing with support from her mentor. By the end of her time as a student teacher, she was leading two to four lessons a day, planning future lessons, and grading student material, growing confidently in her skills as an educator. “Student teaching really prepared me for what was to come,” said Engle. “I worked very hard, graded so many essays, and taught a ton of lessons and even took over teaching towards the end to become my own teacher.”

As Engle notes, student teaching is more than observing and learning from an experienced teacher—it requires you to transition into the teacher role. It’s important to come into the classroom with an open mind and willingness to learn, no matter your placement or exact experience. Being able to empathize and adapt are also essential skills; student teachers may find some similar experiences in different placements, as every school has its own methods and student needs.

Learning How to Be a Better Teacher

As a student teacher, you’ll be able to learn from the students and education professionals you work alongside. The student teaching experience is an invaluable chance to strengthen your own classroom techniques as well as learn something new from those with years of experience.

The programs offered through the Division of Teacher Education at Azusa Pacific University effectively prepare future teachers for their careers in the classroom. With curriculum that’s approved by California’s Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) and accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), students can rest assured their experiences will meet national and state standards.

To help APU students with their placements, the school’s Office of Student Placements matches each with diverse K-12 settings, allowing them to experience what it’s like to teach in real academic settings. The office works to support those who are applying for (or currently participating in) the education program, as well as the professionals and administrators who collaborate with student teachers.

Students who enroll in APU’s program can gain the confidence they need to apply their skills in the classroom and have a positive effect on their students’ lives. Engle acknowledged that she is still learning, but has come “a long way in her journey as a teacher, and loves the amount of support” she’s received from other educators along the way.

Are you interested in pursuing a teaching degree in Southern California? Take some time to explore the different pathways to becoming a teacher at Azusa Pacific.