Intern or student teach?

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by mrsbananers, Jan 6, 2011.

  1. mrsbananers

    mrsbananers Rookie

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    Jan 6, 2011

    Hello!

    First, I want to say that I am so glad I found this forum. Reading your posts has definitely opened my eyes to a few concerns I may be facing once I start teaching.

    With that said, I will be jumping into the classroom in the Fall 2011, whether it be student teaching or first year internship.

    My husband, who is made of math and logistics, thinks that I would totally be fine doing the internship. But, I am made of emotions and realistics, and feel that if I just jump into teaching, with little guidance (and little experience), that I may fail.

    I'm trying to do all I can before then to gain experience and insight. If the opportunity of the internship does come up, I would like to do all I can to possibly fulfill it successfully.

    Hubby suggested that I "cold call" principals and HR departments to ask questions. Do you think that's a good idea? I made a script (cus I'm so nervous!), and came up with a few questions. I wouldn’t mind getting your opinions as well:

    -Is student teaching preferred compared for first year teachers?
    - Is there any other experience that is you (the principal) look for in first year teachers?
    -If not, what level of experience is necessary for first year teacher?
    - What experiences should I have to be competitive with those that have student teaching?


    Do you think that if I start now with volunteering/subbing, that it is realistic for me to say that I would be ready to start teaching in the fall?

    Or do you feel that student teaching is essential to be successful?

    Thanks!!!
     
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  3. Special-t

    Special-t Enthusiast

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    Jan 6, 2011

    My University allows us to start as a traditional student while working as a sub, an aide, or volunteering - then either doing a traditional student teaching placement or switch to interning during the last year.

    A quick overview of my journey: in my 40's, never taught before 2 years ago, degree in a core subject area - English. I wanted to start interning from the start because I didn't want to take on college loans, but our district intern program was canceled due to economics and my district started a hiring freeze at the same time. So, I was forced to do the first year of my University program as a traditional student while subbing (and I had put in a year of subbing before starting at the University).

    Subbing was an excellent way to learn the ropes without the pressure of working in a full time position for the first time. Having a degree in English helped me get 4 substantial long-term positions while subbing and taking my first year of classes. The long-terms provided me with the letters of recommendations, references, and experience that helped me land my current job.
    I would recommend signing up to sub immediately. The experience will benefit you more that you can imagine.

    I switched to an intern-track at my university for my last year of school and will be student teaching as an intern next semester. This is turning out to be an excellent decision. My first year of teaching has been relatively stress-free because of my subbing experience.

    I would not recommend jumping into interning if you have zero teaching experience. Depending upon your student population, you could be setting yourself up to fail and hate teaching. There are more responsibilities than just teaching. Classroom management is a learning process and can be really difficult depending upon your class sizes and subject matter. Full time teaching is not a 7 hour day - it's more of a 10 hour day. You have to plan lessons (most often for multiple classes), go to department meetings, participate on committees, be evaluated by your principal and co-workers, and keep up with grades and pacing deadlines. The school schedule marches forward whether or not you are prepared. The students show up every day whether or not you've had time to plan. Classroom management is very difficult if you don't plan well enough to keep the students engaged during the ENTIRE period.

    If you have no teaching experience on your resume, most likely the intern positions you are offered will be the jobs no one else wants (this usually means difficult student populations). To jump into this you must be extremely flexible and able to handle stress of first year teaching and classroom management challenges along with taking your University classes.

    Your University Intern program may be set up with lots of supports for teachers with no experience. I'd highly recommend sitting down face-to-face with a University Intern adviser ASAP and ask what kinds of supports they provide for interns. And, they may actually require volunteering or subbing before interning, so you may need to get started with that this semester.

    An added bonus to starting out subbing, then switching to interning (if your University allows this kind of switch): I finished all the required state credential tests while subbing. My state requires intensive subject matter testing to qualify for a credential. I had plenty of time to study for and pass these tests.

    I'm actually not trying to discourage you from starting as an intern. I would have done it from day one, if I'd been able. BUT, I'm really glad I was forced to slow down and get experience first. I believe I have a better job now, in a better school, and a better relationship with my coworkers, because of the experience I built up by subbing first.
     
  4. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Jan 6, 2011

    I agree. With teaching especially, it is very important to get experience first. If you can land a long-term sub job, that is great experience. Otherwise, I would definitely consider the support that you will have. The first year of teaching is very difficult and nothing to jump into with lots of support both at school and home!
     
  5. Mrs. K.

    Mrs. K. Enthusiast

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    Jan 6, 2011

    I'm in my late 50s and went through an intern program when I started teaching in 2002. I started in the classroom with zero experience. I would not recommend it! I was very fortunate in that I was only teaching part-time (I had the same kids for a two-period English/SS core) and had an extremely supportive administration (I went from very active PTA mom to employee; they knew me quite well). The first two years were tough; I really struggled with classroom management. If I had it to do all over again, I'd go the traditional student teaching route.
     
  6. Mark94544

    Mark94544 Companion

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    Jan 6, 2011

    Teach as Intern? Don't Do It!

    > I would not recommend jumping into interning if you have zero teaching experience. Depending upon your student population, you could be setting yourself up to fail and hate teaching. <

    Please don't start teaching on an "intern credential." Yes, for many folks it seems like a financial necessity, and of course for districts it's a huge cost savings, but in fact the districts that are willing to hire "interns" to teach full-time are the districts that are least likely to provide adequate support.

    I worked as a substitute teacher in an affluent district for a year, and also spent many days "shadowing" a teacher, before entering my credential program; as a sub, I ended up teaching full time in one classroom for 3 weeks when the teacher I was shadowing had emergency surgery. I had a wonderful experience as a substitute teacher. I loved every minute of every day in the classroom.

    I started the credential program (in a "cohort" which was linked to an urban school district) in the summer, and reluctantly decided to seek an "intern" position.

    I was hired as an intern to teach in one of the "better" schools in the district. I was interviewed and hired on a Monday, to start on the first day of school that Thursday. We were breaking laws from the first minute I stepped into the classroom, because the district hadn't yet "cleared me" (fingerprint check), and I got very little support. Everyone around me was in "triage mode," and no administrator ever observed a single minute of instructional time in my classroom.

    Let me stress: the students in my urban classroom were mostly the same types of students I'd worked with when I subbed in an affluent suburban district the year before, but the problem was the complete absence of support from any administrators. Students quickly saw that I was powerless to impose any consequences (apart from grades).

    One issue that I really wish someone had warned me about: I was told that during the first XX days of school (I think it was 28 days), I was legally required to accept any student who was assigned to my classroom, even if it meant exceeding the contract limit of 34 or 35. I was told that I could not say "no," and so my classes kept growing and growing, as "problem students" were dumped into my classes. What I didn't know was that all other teachers were saying "no" and turning away new students, and the counselors then would send them to me because I wasn't saying no. On day 20 or 21, I said "no," just once, and then they stopped send me new students.

    The result was that many of the most difficult "sophmores" in the school were dumped into my classroom, and I had no information about their background. (It turned out that many were in their 3rd or 4th year of high school.)

    Eventually, I learned that I needed to set priorities and accept that it was impossible to meet the legal requirements, or even to come anywhere near meeting the legal requirements. I learned to reduce my expectations of students -- it had to be "enough" that students weren't actively creating disruptions in the classroom, even if they weren't engaged in any way.

    I started on the first day of school in late August. Two days before Thanksgiving, my chest pains became so severe that I went to the ER, believing I was having a heart attack. The diagnosis: extreme stress; the advice: reduce stress. I went back into the classroom the next day.

    At the end of the semester, I reported failing grades for 40% of my students. Nobody reacted in any way: the administrators, students, and parents didn't respond at all. A few days later, I submitted my two-week resignation notice, and told the principal that if he made some effort to hire a replacement, I'd stay until someone could be hired; he made no effort, and I left three weeks into the second semester.

    I strongly, strongly urge you NOT to consider working on an "intern" credential. I believe that the "intern credential" should be abololished (since districts currently ignore most of the legal requirements for support of "intern" teachers, they would ignore any modified requirements).

    Unfortunately, without intern credentials, many districts would expand the number of long-term substitute teachers who are illegally running classrooms (in excess of the 4-week limits on subbing in a single classroom). After I quit, a substitute teacher took over the class for the rest of the year, with even less support and supervision than I'd had (I at least had someone from my college observe 5 class periods each quarter).

    I've heard a variety of comments about the "student teaching experience," but I don't think the worst experience as a student teacher is likely to be worse than the best experience as an "intern."

    Finally, let me emphasize: despite the lack of support, and despite the challenging behavior of many students, I absolutely felt JOY every hour of every day that I was in the classroom. I've never enjoyed any job as much as I enjoyed teaching. (I've also never worked nearly as hard, nor earned so little money, as I did while teaching.)

    I honestly believe that if I'd continued to work as a teacher, I would not be alive today; the stress would have killed me. I'm glad to be stepping back into a "supporting role" by creating my new "Lesson Index" directory, which will hopefully save some time for some teachers.
     
  7. Sshintaku

    Sshintaku Comrade

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    Jan 6, 2011

    I agree with what everyone else has said. Interning might be alright IF you already have experience. If you've never worked in a classroom, it would definitely be an incredibly stressful experience, or worst case scenario, push you away from teaching forever.
     
  8. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Virtuoso

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    Jan 6, 2011

    In Kentucky everyone has to do an internship during the first year of teaching, so those who aren't on the traditional teaching path aren't completely thrown to the wolves the first year.

    We've had interns without student teaching who did fine, and ones who didn't. We've also had interns with student teaching go both ways, too.
     
  9. Galois

    Galois Companion

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    Jan 6, 2011

    At last someone has a different view, because this is where I am headed right now. The caveat or what is inferred is that if the intern does not have the support of the district or administration. So the key is to find a school where you have the support. I am bent of going this path because someone I know, used this route and is successful (without the student loan - tough to pay in this economy).

    I try to learn all I can about teacher education and subject matter (in my case math). I think math is also an entirely different subject compared to other subjects. In fact, One can make a lesson plan using a matrix. So long as I follow the required California Mathematics Content Standards, I will be on safe grounds.

    And to gain the most important classroom experience, I network and got hold of a math department head in one of the top 60 high schools in America and she allowed me to observe her class regularly. She also recommended that I practice teaching there.
    Today, I also just got hired as a sub which will give me additional classroom experience. Are all this not enough to replace the student teaching of the traditional teaching path?

    I wish they don't abolish the intern credential. We have all come to this forum to agree to disagree. Thanks for all your recommendations.
     
  10. Catcherman22

    Catcherman22 Companion

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    Jan 6, 2011

    Being a former intern...

    I would NEVER... EVER... Student teach. Given the chance again I would do an internship in a heartbeat. I did not have any classroom experience before entering the classroom. I tutored for a number of years, so I had some background on how students learn.

    I guess it really depends on the intern program I suppose. We had to do 65 hours as a "student teacher" before officially being accepted into the program. This was arranged by our intern program. I say "student teacher" in quotes because I had to arrange my own time, but basically it was the student teaching year in about 2 weeks. I observed for a few days and then took over one period for a week and a half.

    During the summer we had class daily for 5 hours for about a month and a half... which is when we did the classroom management etc. The pedagogy didn't come until the first semester, but my, and my collegues, content knowsledge was strong enough to get by for a while.

    Our program was two years long... and even though I complained about the once a week nightly classes, I really did enjoy my time as an intern. I had a lot of outside of school support from the intern program when I needed it, and when they saw me begin to flourish, they backed off a bit.

    I didn't have to search for a job, and since my internship was with the district, when I signed my contract with the intern program, I signed a contract with the school district and I was given a position that I didn't have to hunt for.

    My advice to you is find everything you can about the program. What are it's requirements? Do you need to find your own position? WHat kind of support does the program offer you.

    It's definitly doable, but you have to know what you're getting into ahead of time and be willing to work for it to succeed. After all, as an Intern, there's nobody to pick you up if you fail like there is in student teaching.
     
  11. teach'ntx

    teach'ntx Comrade

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    Jan 6, 2011

    I finished my ACP in the summer and started looking for jobs in July. I hit the pavement as hard as I could including dropping off resumes to schools without openings listed. After not getting an offer I put in for student teaching. I was working full time and it was going to be very difficult to student teach and not have a garuntee of a job afterwards. On the other hand I had very few calls for interviews and I am sure it was due to my lack of experience.
    I got lucky. I was hired in October and it is hard!!! I love what I do, and there are days I think I would be better if I had student taught. However, I am there giving it 150% to make up for the fact I do not have the experience. I
     
  12. mrsbananers

    mrsbananers Rookie

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    Jan 7, 2011

    Thank you for all your input! It seems like there are all sorts of views depending on programs and your own experiences.

    From what I understand, the "internship" is something that I have to find myself. I would be basically finding my own job as a first year teacher, and it would go as credit towards my education degree.

    The "student teaching" will be 5 days a week, all day, all semester. I would start out shadowing, and eventually take over the class. *no pay, blah*

    Today, I dumped off volunteer applications for all the high schools in my area. I hope to tutor, help with labs, etc. Also, I feel this will give me an opportunity to meet faculty and network. They are not hiring for subs in my town, but they are in the town close to me. I will be applying for that as well.

    As of now, I cannot say I am comfortable teaching high school kids. Because of that, I am tending to lean towards student teaching.

    We'll see though...I'll keep learning and putting myself out there.
     
  13. teach'ntx

    teach'ntx Comrade

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    Jan 7, 2011

    Volunteering and subbing are a great way to start! I had some tutoring experience, but that was it. If you do decide to go internship, you are right about needing to find your own job. Then you are the teacher of record with your own class.
    Good Luck!
     
  14. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Jan 8, 2011

    I think there are several important factors to consider:

    a. Which will prepare you best for life as a teacher? It sounds as though you have no background in a classroom except as a student. So being in a class alone, without another teacher to model, probably wont' show you much. The whole idea of student teaching is that you begin as an observer, seeing how the classroom teacher does things-- how she handles transitions, how she quiets the kids down, how she deals with a chatty kid or an upset kid or a kid who simply doesn't understand. Then you gradually gain control of the class yourself. You also have someone with whom you can talk, and bounce ideas off of.

    That first year or two of teaching can be HARD. There's a lot to learn. Doing it without the safety net of a cooperating teacher can be done, but it deprives you of the opportunity to learn so much.


    b) Which is more likely to lead to a job down the road? Either will probably give you contacts within that particular district. But I think that the more traditional student teaching will probably look better on a resume to a stranger than interning. I could be wrong here. We have several members who are administrators (Tiffany and Brendan come to mind)-- why not ask them to weigh in?




    The idea isn't simply to get a job teaching, but to learn how to become the best teacher you're capable of being. Having the opportunity to observe another teacher day to day (when the kids are used to you being there and are being themselves) is an incredible opportunity.

    I vote for student teaching if at all possible. If not, take every opportunity you can find to observe other teachers. Once you're working full time, those opportunities are hard to come by.
     

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