Teacher education in the classroom

Instead of a semester of student teaching, University of South Dakota education majors are working in elementary classrooms for a year under a pilot program, reports the Argus Leader.

“I can’t emphasize how wonderful this experience has been,” said Cassie Zomer, a 22-year-old teaching candidate from Brandon working in the third-grade classroom of teacher Julie Sehr at Harvey Dunn. “Everything that you never learn in a college classroom, you learn here. And the collaborating … is huge.”

. . .  these education majors started in August before the students even began to show up.They helped to set up the classrooms. They greeted children when they walked through the door. They have intervened with the behavior problems, developed and taught lessons and communicated with parents from the start.

A foundation grant pays for an experienced teacher to mentor the teaching interns.

The university hopes to expand the program to include aspiring middle and high school teachers.

Via The Quick and the Ed.

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  1. Why not replace the entire teacher preparation program with on-the-job training? Hire people with degrees in the subject or in a subject with relevant requirements as department gofers, teachers’ aides, and in-house substitutes. College of Education coursework adds nothing to teacher competence.

  2. Sounds like the no pay internships the corporations are so fond of.

    • Mark Roulo says:


      (a) Not all companies offer unpaid internships. The one I work for pays the interns and also pays moving expenses (both ways) if the intern isn’t local, provides a car for the summer and pays for the summer housing.

      (b) But, this is probably only about 1/2 the cost to the company. Interns require a lot of supervision by senior employees. My guess is that this cost is equal to the intern salary. For companies where the intern *costs* the company money after taking into account the lost senior employee productivity, what do you think the appropriate intern salary shoul be?

  3. Mark,

    Going through a semester of student teaching, working a full-time job during the day, and working at night, was difficult. I also attended a university where a semester of student teaching was the elementary school’s semester, not the university’s, so my unpaid time was even longer, so I spent longer than most having to do it. I could not have afforded an entire year.

    Your company sounds unusual in regards to what I’ve heard about so many other corporations, kudos to them. But where is the money going to come from to offer paid internships to future teachers?

    • Deirdre Mundy says:

      I think a lot of student teachers would settle for not paying tuition while teaching!

    • I’m wondering if the tech industry approaches internships differently than other industries (e.g. newspapers).

      Just going from some companies I know about, I see that Google pays their interns, Applied Materials (semiconductor equipment company) pays their interns, and IBM pays their interns.


      Where would the money come from? I don’t know. In some sense, where an organization spends money is a pretty good indicator of what that organizations priorities are. In California 3-4 years back (when I last checked the numbers), the state was paying about $10K per K-12 student per year. The average K-12 teacher was making about $65K (average … so the new hires were making less and the experienced teachers with masters degrees were making more). After factoring in benefits, the average teacher cost the state about $85K. With an average class of 25 students, the state was spending $250K per year to educate the kids and only $85K was going to the teacher. I’d like to think that if this sort of on-the-job training was considered important by the people running the show, then they could find, maybe, $5K-$10K in each classroom budget to fund internships.

      They won’t (and will cry poor), so I have no idea how to arrange for this to happen 🙁

      • GoogleMaster says:

        The mid-sized (400+ employees) tech firm that I work for also pays its interns. The time we spend training them is worth it when they come back after graduation to work for us. We’ve had stellar employees who interned with us after both sophomore and junior year before joining us full-time.

  4. Roger Sweeny says:

    But where is the money going to come from to offer paid internships to future teachers?

    Most states provide substantial financial support, direct and indirect, to their ed schools. If the ed schools were shut down, that would free up a substantial amount of money.

    • Since students pay tuition to the college of education, would they be financing their own “paycheck”?

      • Roger Sweeny says:

        Most of the cost of a state college of education is paid by the state government, not by tuition. For example, where I live, Boston College, a private school, charges $1,122 for a graduate education credit (a typical course is three credits). At Bridgewater State University, tuition and fees are $273 for graduate day credits ($56 tuition and $217 fees) and $341 for graduate evening credits ($70 tuition and $271 fees).

  5. Lightly Seasoned says:

    Many years ago, when I was in Ed School, I was the guinea pit for an internship pilot program. The program is still going, and now I host and work with the interns. Also, Boston has a similar program. So, there are several models out there to look at and evaluate.

    I wonder, if, in the new year, Joanne could create some value added to her content by linking some of these news items so folks could synthesize the information and come to more informed conclusions. These micro ed-bits in isolation tend to be repetitive and simply generate the same facile comments over and over (I am quite guilty of this). Not particularly helpful to anyone who wants to truly think deeply about these problems.

  6. I’m not really sure what the deal is. At Stanford, you spend a whole year in the classroom, 20 hours/week. I was considering UC Santa Cruz, and they had a similar program.

    So if the CSUs changed their credential programs (instead of the majors) to use the one year student teaching program, it would just be putting them in line with the other ed schools in the area.

    You’d only want to do this with people who actually want to be teachers, and one of the buried ledes in one of those teacher quality reports was that some 50-75% of undergrad ed majors don’t become teachers. But that’s a different issue.

    In short, a year student teaching is pretty normal at the ed schools I looked at.