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student teacher: should I or shouldn't I?



My principal asked me to be a cooperating teacher for a student teacher next year. I have mixed feelings. I would welcome a chance to work with a beginning teacher, but with so much pressure on us for high test scores, I'm reluctant to give up my teaching to someone else. Any advice on what I should do?

NJ Teacher

Senior Member
Taking on a Student Teacher

I have always enjoyed having student teachers, and I feel it is my way of giving back to the profession. However, that being said, it can be a lot of work, especially in the beginning, and you are right about the pressures of testing. Will the student teacher be there the whole semester, or just a quarter? I liked to have student teachers in the period between Halloween and the winter break, when the college I got them from had them come to us for just a quarter (they had another student teaching assignment with a different age level for the other quarter in the semester). When I had one from February-May in my present job, I kept the teaching of the major lessons in math that were necessary for testing. Once testing was over, I was able to give up that subject. Actually, it might be helpful to have a student teacher because she can work either with the larger group leaving you to help students who needed extra help with a concept, or she could work with the small group who might be having trouble. The extra pair of hands is great. I would share with the principal your reluctance due to the scores, so that you could see if that is a concern of theirs or not. Good luck whatever you decide. Don't feel pressured into accepting one, only do it if you feel this is the right time and opportunity for you and your kids.


Senior Member

you can stay involved while your student teacher is "in charge"--plan with her/him; keep tabs on assessments to make sure everything is being taught and that everything is being learned. go for it!


From the Student Teacher's Angle...

...DON'T accept IF...
you''re feeling burnt out/frustrated (or think you will be by the time the ST would be there); you're a fairly new teacher, still learning the ropes yourself; you have a difficult time giving constructive criticism without offending; you think you might frequently butt in during the STs lessons, and correct her right in front of the students...

I could go on, but you get my drift. The point is, please do an honest and thorough SELF evaluation first. I say this as a first year teacher, having completed a semester of student teaching last year, under a new teacher who fit the above description. It was pure misery.

When I completed a different semester of ST under a seasoned teacher who was the exact opposite, it was WONDERFUL experience for us both! Like the other posters said, she benefited from my extra pair of hands--also, at times, she was able to have me do things that she didn't necessarily enjoy, but which I was eager to do, because it was all a learning experience for me.

But, again, the self eval. on your part is critical, because you're the one who will set the tone.

Best of luck to you.


I'm a fourth year teacher

who student taught under a very, very good teacher--whose style, I now realize, was NOTHING like my own. We had a hard time understanding each other. Also, she was highly resentful of the amount of paperwork she had to do to be a CT; my college made CTs attend, I think, three or four meetings, as well. So I don't think my CT was all that thrilled with having a student teacher, because it was more work than she wanted to do.

I don't know how much extra work in the form of meetings/paperwork there would be. I guess it depends on the college, but you might want to find that out.

Mrs. G

Senior Member
Student teacher

I enjoy having a student teacher in my room. I get lots of good ideas and it helps me reflect on my own teaching. I would not recommend taking an intern if you don't want to give up your class. Some teachers get jealous of their student teacher because the students give them a lot of attention. It can be a lot of fun having an intern. but also a lot of work. You have to be willing to try new things even if you think they are making a mistake. You must be able to give constructive criticism without insulting. I hope this helps some.


Student teachers

can be great, but it really depends on the person.

It can be great because a competent student teacher frees you up to observe the kids, make lesson plans during the school day (so you can cut your hours a bit) and work one on one with needy students.

However, time is involved in helping the student teacher plan his/her lessons. Also, if you wind up with an incompetent student teacher---it can be tough.

Talk to other teachers in your school. In my area, there are several colleges nearby. Some schools consistently give wonderful student teachers and some consistently give poor student teachers. Of course, this doesn't always work, but you might want to get a sense of other teacher's experiences in your school to help shape your own decision.

Good luck!

c green

Talk to the principal

I'd be really direct about it. Tell him/her you'd like to work with a student teacher, but have fears about the testing issues. See what you get back. Also, if you decide to do it, be honest with the student teacher. Explain that there may be times when you yank back control, not because he/she is a poor student teacher, but because your students need to have certain kinds of test prep.


some advice


I was just reading some posts on another website for student teachers and the ones that posted about CT's were the most ungrateful and mean spirited people you would encounter. Some of them had to be taken out of student teaching and placed elsewhere because they couldn't get along with their CT's. Many ST's seem to be very bitter that they are not paid to do Student teaching and view themselves as our slaves. Their posts leave a real bad taste. They only want to be coddled and felt sorry for. Boy, that isn't the way real teaching is, so get prepared for it!!!!

I have a student teacher now and she is great but it is STILL a lot of work. Giving up Saturdays for meetings and all the time that you have to spend explaining things. If you have a great student teacher, it might be worth it. If you are having one during the weeks leading up to testing, I say don't agree. Also, I took her under the condition that she didn't work Mondays thru Thursdays. Your student teacher has to work hard and how could they do that and stay healthy and competent if they have to cut out for a six hour shift as a clerk?

I decided to NOT take a student teacher next year. It isn't a picnic, even with a good one.


New Member
From a Student Teacher

I also agree that you should not take on a student teacher unless you are committed in giving that student teacher all that you got. I am finishing up my student teaching right now. My mentor explained to me that she would have to plan lessons even if I wasn't there, so we work as a cooperative team. Learning how to work as a team is an important skill that will only help me in the profession. I was a bit nervous about preparing lessons that might impact their performance on testing, however, my mentor told me that she has been preparing her students ALL year long. I prepared reading, writing, and math lessons that introduced new concepts, but just before testing week I did more review type lessons that were approved my my mentor.

Gina TX

Senior Member
Being a first year teacher

It was only last spring that I did my student teaching. Yes, I did 12 weeks unpaid from Jan.-March. I did not, and no one that I personally know has had any negative feelings about not getting paid. You know that is how it will be from the very beginning. I agree that it is not realistic that an ST would be holding down another job. That is too much. I had a great CT and she taught me a lot. We went through state tests together. She approved my lessons before they were submitted and we never had a problem. It turned out to be a great help because I had been trained in giving the tests I was able to go to other teacher's rooms if they needed a bathroom break, etc. I also learned a lot, not only in the preperation but also in giving the tests. When the actually testing days came the CT took back over and that is fine. Of course I understood why. Since I had been there for a couple of months already the kids were used to my being there and it didn't cause any disruption. Another plus, when I was hired the principal made a comment that he felt it was a plus that I already had testing experience.

I hate to see connieg's reply because it makes most (not all) ST's look bad. I'm very sorry to hear that there are so many that are complaining. Obviously they will have a hard time when they are in the real world of teaching. It's not supposed to be easy, it's work. Not having been on the CT side I can't really say how it would affect you.

I think the college would play a big part. My CT was also my supervisor. She did all the evaluations and was paid extra for this. She was sent forms to complete as well as the evaluations. She didn't have to go to any extra meetings or anything.

In our case it worked out very well. As someone else pointed out it freed us both up to work in small groups with those who were struggling and I do believe this made a big difference in giving those kids an extra edge. Having an extra person in the room can be a big plus. I think it all depends on the person and the college.

Connieg, please don't let what you read on those posts sour you to ST's. They are not all like that. I can tell you that I certainly did not have time to be on any message boards when I was doing ST. Could it be that you have found a "group" of problem ST's? I hope I'm not living in a fantasy land, but I would like to think that STs like that would be the exception. Anyone else have any problems like that?


New Member
Don't Believe Everything You Read


Thanks for your reply. It is important not to believe everything you read. Postings on a website represents only a small sample of student teachers. There are a lot of competent student teachers out there. I am sure that they can feel overwhelmed which is not too uncommon even for a seasoned teacher. After a few years of teaching, I hope that I can remember back to my student teachings days and transfer my positive experiences onto that student teacher.


you are right, but

We have had problems in our building with student teachers gossiping behind their CT's back and it sort of sets the mood for some apprehension. I had someone else's student teacher observe me for the day and she told me that my classroom was an ideal one and that the teacher she worked with was not using best practices. After defending the teacher, I kept that comment totally to myself as I don't want to cause a problem. I was the only teacher in my building to agree to have a student teacher this semester because the experiences are deteriorating and many teachers are just saying "Why should I?" The one big university in town is pouring out a lot of poorly prepared people and no one will take one from there. My ST is from a small university.

My current ST is very nice and mature and doing a great job. I think we get along just fine and I treat her like a team member. She has a great attitude and I am known for being a really upbeat and positive teacher so we get along well. I make sure at the end of each week that I give her positive feedback and give her a big pat on the back. I haven't had to confront her on any issues and just give some "let's try this next time because I'm learning too" all the time.

I had a really bad full-time student teacher about 8 years ago and that so jaded me at the thought of ever putting not only myself but mostly the kids through that again. I had parent complaints and they wanted her out. I have taken lots of practicum teachers and the only real problem with some of them is attendance and cleavage.

The other major teacher message board just had a series of comments that they posted about CT's. One of the big problems is that a lot of them think they should be paid and carry this resentment into their big ST experience. They only want people to listen to their complaining and most of the CT's who post are very professional. Teaching is really no easy picnic and hopefully student teaching prepares them for many challenges they will encounter, including how to deal with other professionals.

My own daughter just finished her student teaching and so I really want to give back to the profession, but I hate the possibility of being criticized by someone I put so much time into. I guess I need to hear some gratitude on these boards from student teachers. One experience can sour you for the rest of your career and taking a student teacher should be only for the right reasons.

I would agree to take a student teacher after your first few years and only if you can see that you won't have any huge commitments and problems in your personal life. They deserve a big commitment from us and we really do deserve a big thanks.



Gina TX

Senior Member

I'm sorry that you had such a bad experience. It sounds as if the university is doing a big disservice to their students if they have gotten all the way to ST and are unprepared.

When I was in college it was made very clear about professionalism, ie: gossipping and the like. That was a big no no and it should be.

Again, you being upbeat and positive makes a huge difference too. It is so important (from the ST side) to get those positive reinforcements and even the constructive critisim. I know that when I first started my ST my CT had a set way that she did everything. It was hard for her to step back and let me do things differently and learn from some of my own mistakes, but she did and it worked. We never had any problems and I valued her advice. I picture you to be like she is. She is a very positive, high energy, and fun person to be around. We still keep in touch and she still emails me wanting to know how things are going and offering any advice. She really is a great CT.

I know it's hard not being paid, but really it is part of college. I can't understand why they resent this because it is not a suprise as we all know. It's too bad that the CT's responding to them are being unprofessional as well. I'm sure that only stirs the pot.

My daughter is in her first year of college and is looking to teach elementary school. She knows it's hard work, but I think, at least to me, teaching is a calling. It's something I've always known I wanted to do.

I'm so glad your current ST is doing a good job. Hopefully it will be much better for you than what happened before. I'm sure there are always some like that but lets hope it's not the majority or our profession is in big trouble.

And Connie you are absolutely right, it is a big committment and you do deserve a huge thank you. A good CT can make the difference in whether the ST is ready to be in their own classroom and that is a big job. So, even though you weren't my CT I would like to say thanks for taking on another ST after having such a bad experience. I hope all goes great for you this time.