Student teaching is required for students who are not yet certified to teach. It is different from a practicum, which is required when a student already holds certification to teach, yet wants a certificate extension to teach another area of specialization; they are both college-supervised field-based experiences.
The student teaching experience lasts about the length of a semester; long enough to fulfill the college’s assigned tasks. This experience gives the prospective teaching professional an opportunity to teach under the supervision of a permanently certified master teacher (see schoolmaster).
The student teacher is usually placed in a neighboring or participating school district. The student teacher is monitored by the cooperating teacher from the district, as well as a supervisor through the college. The supervisor acts as a liaison between the cooperating teacher and the head of the college’s student teaching department.
The student teacher essentially shadows the cooperating teacher for about one week, eventually gaining more responsibility in teaching the class as the days progress. The supervisor, as well as cooperating teacher, are to monitor the progress of the student teacher throughout the experience, ensuring it’s satisfactory. A grade of Pass or Fail in student teaching, as well as satisfactory completion of a school's education program, is an indication as to whether the college recommends the student for certification to teach.
There are alternative ways to fulfill the student teaching requirement (e.g. NYC Student Teaching Initiative, NYC Summer Teaching Experience Program [STEP]). Please visit the website of the State Education Department you wish to be certified in for details (e.g. New York State Education Department Office of Teaching Initiatives , NYC Department of Education ).
There are also ways to substitute student teaching in lieu of professional experience (e.g. NYSED OT-11 form ). For example, in New York State, a substitute teacher who worked at least 40 full days in a district (2 half days equal 1 full day ) or a Teaching Assistant who worked full-time for two years in a district, qualifies for the superintendent of that district to sign the OT-11 form. Just drop the form off in the Human Resource Department. However, be sure that the teaching performance was satisfactory and there's nothing in the employment file stating otherwise. Request copies or see the employment file beforehand. Be sure that the substitute teaching is in the grade levels and areas of specialization you plan on being certified in. Check with your State Education Dept. to see what those accepted areas are. Also, if you are in a program leading to certification, talk with the school's Education Dept. to be sure that they accept a student teaching waiver or alternative experience. By searching all your options, you may be eligible to avoid student teaching and just make up the credits in terms of a practicum or courses. Good luck!