New take on student teaching
Kentucky School Advocate
By Matt McCarty
According to the Education Professional Standards Board, about 38 percent of student teachers are hired in the district where they did their student teaching.
“I really am encouraging districts, you need to find a way to work with your ed prep programs to bring these people to your district,” EPSB Executive Director Jimmy Adams said.
Adams said 147 of the state’s 173 public school districts use student teachers but he’s “a little leery of that number.” He said he’d like to see data of how many of those 147 districts get only a small number of student teachers.
Mark Owens, who retired this summer as the personnel director for Daviess County Schools, said student teachers “are probably the best tool we draw from.”
Murray State is starting a professional development pilot this fall to help prepare its education students for middle school teaching, working with five middle schools in western Kentucky to give future teachers year-round experience.
“They’ll get a really good understanding of what it’s truly like to teach,” said Kem Cothran of Murray State’s Teacher Quality Institute.
Instead of just student teaching for 14 weeks in the spring, the student will be in the classroom from the first day of school through the last day.
“They’ll get to see how to set up a classroom,” she said. “They’re going to go three full weeks (before Murray is in session) with that teacher in that classroom and have the opening experience of school, how to set up management issues, how to set up their gradebook, computer issues, set up a classroom. … That’s critical because they never get that otherwise, and that will make them have a smoother second year.”
Once the students transition back to Murray they will do a 90-hour practicum with the same teacher. During Murray’s Christmas break they will return to the middle school classroom, Cothran said, “to see that crazy time of year.” In January they will do their 14 weeks of student teaching and stay longer to see the closing of the school year.
“They’re going to get to see student growth for a year,” she said. “It will give them a total better experience of being a classroom teacher.
“I was a principal and I remember when I would get student-teachers, you get them for 14 weeks so then you hire them the next year because they do such good work, but they’re clueless the first month because they’ve never gotten to witness the first month,” she said.
Cothran said Murray State started the pilot at the middle school level because “we’re very critical there.” She said it may expand to the high school level and add more schools.
She said the principals are on board with the program because it gets a potential teaching candidate in their school for a whole year.
“If we can get strong teachers in there to do that yearlong program,” Cothran said, “then they may stay and work for these districts that have a hard time recruiting and retaining.”