Many majors at SRU require that students complete an internship before they can graduate. Education majors are no different, but instead of interning with a company, they have to experience student teaching, where they go into the classroom and become a teacher for a semester.
“While other internships end at the end of the work day, student teachers must make lesson plans, grade, make tests, and do all the other responsibilities as other teachers, such as parent-teacher conferences, outside of normal work hours,” Joey Streiff, 22, a senior secondary education English major, explained.
Streiff is a student teacher this semester at Union School District teaching his main subject of English. He further explained that student teaching is more like a full time job requiring a lot of extra work in and outside the classroom.
While many student teachers around campus like the experience that they gain from working in the classroom, it becomes a balancing act between being a teacher and being a student themselves.
Streiff along with teaching has to work his Desk Attendant job hours around his new schedule and had to basically drop all clubs and on campus government organizations.
“I have had to drop my ties with any club and student government due to the busy lifestyle,” Streiff said. “However, I do try and get involved with the theatre as often as I can.”
Another student who has fully immersed herself into the classroom during her student teaching experience is senior Colleen Lugar, 21, a health and physical education major.
“I am doing two work samples, one for middle school health that lasts eight weeks and the other for high school physical education for another eight weeks,” Lugar explained. “A work sample is creating a pre unit test to find out where the students are, six lesson plans, and then a post test.”
Lugar is teaching in the Hermitage school district, more specifically at Delahunty Middle School and Hickory High School.
While Lugar is another student who feels that student teaching is a rewarding experience and can grow from it, she also expressed that it is a challenge.
“For almost 12 hours I am in teacher mode,” Lugar expressed when explaining her in-depth daily schedule.
She wakes up around five in the morning and has to be out of the house by six to travel 45 minutes to be at the school by 7 a.m. She teaches all day and does not get back on campus until 4 p.m. According to Lugar, she also makes a priority in working out and making sure she can still work some of her student jobs.
“It is not healthy to not have me time,” Lugar explained, “and my me time is working out.”
Along with teaching during the week, Lugar tries to earn some money by still working as much as she can at her on campus jobs during the weekend. She works at the ARC as a lifeguard and still tries to do whatever she can as a HOPE Peer Educator.
Not only does Lugar have to teach during school hours, but has to also participate in a service learning project during her student teaching.
“I have to coach the middle school track and field team for at least three hours a week for at least six weeks,” Lugar stated. “The project has to show that I’m being involved with something with my district.”
Before student teaching, students also have to participate in field training, which also involves classroom work, but is less of a full teaching experience.
Both fieldwork and student teaching are two experiences that are mostly done in the final years at Slippery Rock, but some wish they could get hands on experience earlier in their college career.
“I would like to add that I wish the Education Department would get Secondary Education students into schools earlier than our senior year,” Streiff explained. “One of my friends told me she does not like teaching and wishes she could have been placed into school in freshman year like Elementary Education students get to do.”
After all the experience that students get training and preparing to be in the classroom by the time student teaching came, Lugar explained that she was ready to have her own class and be creative.
“I’m tired of being watched with a magnifying glass and I’m ready and prepared to be creative and have my own class and teach,” Lugar stated.
Student teaching is another way that education majors get a feel for their job, and all that is required in the field, but their learning experiences and work is different from any other major internship.
“It is a rewarding experience and I can see myself growing from it,” Lugar said about her student teaching.
Student teaching is also the closest that these students are going to get before thy have to teach no longer as a student, giving them a glimpse at their future careers.
“While it is certainly hectic and fast-paced at times, I will say student teaching offers an amazing opportunity to really see what it is like to be an “adult” with an “adult” job,” Streiff explained while showing his passion. “It really shows what life will be like after we graduate.”