Essential Information for Student Teachers

Student Teaching Experience

The student teaching experience provides pre-service teachers the space and opportunity to learn how to ask important questions about teaching and learning, come to know children and adolescents by observing and interacting with them consistently over time, apply newly acquired knowledge, theories, strategies and models in a variety of contexts within and across classrooms, and experiment with, design and adapt practice according to learners' needs.

During the student teaching experience, pre-service teachers are guided and instructed by two key individuals - the cooperating or mentor teacher and university supervisor.   

Essential Information

For most certification areas, student teaching is comprised of two related but separate components.

  1. First, most student teachers must complete at least 100 clock hours of field observations in schools and classrooms prior or in addition to student teaching. All 100 hours need not be completed in one term or one course; many of the programs at Teachers College require students to fulfill this requirement in two 50-hour blocks.
  2. Second, New York State certification regulations specify that most student teachers must complete at least 2 college-supervised student-teaching experiences (depending on the area of certification) of at least 20 school days each, or at least one college-supervised practica with individual students or groups of students of at least 40 school days. However, it is important to bear in mind that the 20-day requirement is merely a minimum; the amount of time each student teacher spends in each placement typically exceeds this minimum according to the requirements outlined by the program in which she or he is enrolled. As stated earlier, these placements should be in the appropriate subject area and grade level(s) for the certificate sought. For example, if students are completing a NYS approved certification program covering grades K-12, they should have at least one placement in grades K-6, and one in grades 7-12 in the appropriate subject area.

Each student teacher is assigned a student teaching supervisor. This is typically an experienced teacher who is selected by the university to provide support, guidance and feedback to the student teacher over the course of the student teaching term. Supervisors visit and observe student teachers in their classrooms several times during the placement period. While the number of observations required may vary from program to program, the Teacher Education Policy Committee at Teachers College and the Office of Teacher Education strongly and unanimously recommend a minimum of three observations per student teaching experience. Supervisors will aim to observe student teachers working with children/students in a variety of grouping configurations, subject areas and at different times of the day and week. Supervisors also meet with student teachers prior to each observation so lesson plans and instructional decisions can be reviewed and discussed, and they document and discuss their observations with the student teacher after each classroom visit as part of the feedback and assessment process. As liaisons between TC and the field, supervisors are key to student teachers’ ability to integrate and apply all they are learning with/to their practice.  


Although different programs have different emphases and specific requirements, the expectations below represent general expectations across Teachers College Teacher Education programs. As the forum for integrating and applying knowledge, skills and dispositions acquired through your program, student teaching should enable you to:

  • Become an astute observer of students
  • Develop strong, supportive relationships with students and their families
  • Create rich learning environments and opportunities
  • Demonstrate your content knowledge and your ability to convey this knowledge
  • Develop facility with planning and curriculum decision-making
  • Enact curriculum and instruction appropriate for diverse learners in multiple subjects and settings
  • Differentiate instruction to meet the needs of individual students and ensure access to learning
  • Assess learners using multiple means or methods, and in relation to different instructional purposes
  • Use a variety of culturally relevant materials, resources and technologies to support learning and instruction
  • Develop a repertoire of classroom management strategies and insights
  • Develop strong communication skills
  • Collaborate with your cooperating teacher, other teachers, and your students
  • Reflect upon and analyze your own teaching
  • Demonstrate professionalism and dependability

To better understand how most programs evaluate your progress toward these goals, please explore our College-Wide Student Teaching Evaluation Form.


Completion of Requirements

You are expected to complete all program and college requirements in a satisfactory and professional manner. Students who do not satisfactorily meet all program and college expectations and standards cannot be recommended for certification. While teaching is not for everyone and candidates may decide during their program or student teaching experience to consider different career options, the overwhelming majority of student teachers at Teachers College successfully complete their programs and achieve certification. We have every confidence in your ability to become a thoughtful, skillful and caring educator, and faculty and supervisors alike will strive to give you the support you need to meet the highest standards.


**Please note that all information on this page is meant to give general guidance to student teachers. Consult your programs for more accurate and specific information related to your program.

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