Invaluable Experience: What is Student Teaching?

A student teacher help an elementary school student in a classroom setting.

Real-world classrooms and individual mentorship combine in student teaching experiences that prepare prospective teachers to flourish in the classroom.

January is National Mentoring Month and we want to celebrate by highlighting some of the amazing mentorship opportunities at Pacific, starting with student teaching through the School of Learning & Teaching in the College of Education! Explore education degree programs  and connect with an admissions counselor today.  

Perhaps the most valuable aspect of earning a professional degree is the opportunity for job training while in school.

Few programs make better use of that training than teaching programs resulting in licensure, where student teaching allows prospective educators access to real-world classroom settings and unparalleled mentorship.

Whether pursuing early child education, music education, special education, or other specific subjects, student teaching is required to become a licensed teacher in Oregon.

But what are the benefits of student teaching, and why should you choose a program that emphasizes the actual teaching experience? Let’s break it down. 


What is Student Teaching?

Typically taking place near the end of your degree, student teaching places professional teacher licensure candidates directly into a real classroom where they work alongside experienced teachers to develop teaching strategies and prepare for licensure.

Student teachers work in settings that align with their specialization. 

Special educators will intern in special education classes, elementary education majors — who have special access to Pacific’s Early Learning Community, a primary school environment right on Forest Grove’s campus — will intern in K-5 environments, and so on.

Student teacher responsibilities include:

  • Leading portions of class. Observed by licensed educators who provide invaluable feedback, student teachers gain hands-on experience managing classrooms and teaching core concepts.

  • Creating and grading assignments. Assessing the state of a classroom and tailoring activities and classwork to meet students’ needs is an essential aspect of problem solving as a teacher.

  • Partnering to create lesson plans. Student teachers share duties with their host teacher, and collaborating on lesson plans is a good way to put educational theories learned in your program into practice.

  • Helping students. In group settings or individually, student teachers work with students to meet their needs and thrive both intellectually and emotionally.

Generally, student teaching is an unpaid position and, depending on the program, student teachers  may or may not be also participating in courses in-person or online to support their degree path. 

Is Student Teaching Required?

Student teaching experience is required to become a licensed educator in the state of Oregon. 

Residency teachers — individuals working with a temporary restricted license — can pursue a licensure pathway that includes one-on-one mentoring with experienced educators. 

Certain subject areas — such as math, language arts, social studies, and morerequire a single subject endorsement in addition to student teaching experience.

How Long is Student Teaching?

The majority of student teaching takes place in the final semester of a student’s specific education degree. 

At Pacific, the student teaching experience lasts for 18 weeks, after which prospective educators can take the necessary certification exams that result in licensure in Oregon. 

During that 18 weeks, student teachers form close connections with both their students and their teacher mentor, strengthening their resume and preparing them for a career in education after graduating.

What is the Goal of Student Teaching?

Student teaching allows you to put what you’ve learned from your degree into practice, all while gaining insight from experienced professionals.

Because every class is different, problem solving is a must, and licensed educators can mentor student teachers and provide tangible techniques and methods to help ease their transition into a career in education.

Student teaching also allows students to experiment and hone their skills to create a teaching style that is unique, enabling them to uplift students in and out of the classroom.

“Pacific graduates come into schools almost acting like second-year teachers…The program really prepares you for the day-to-day challenges of the classroom.”

– Becky Tengs ’08

What Happens After Student Teaching?

A student teacher hands papers out to a high school class.

After you’ve finished student teaching at your chosen school, a license in teaching is not far away.

The requirements for licensure vary depending on which track you’ve chosen, but almost all degrees end with a thorough exam that combines student teaching experience with what you’ve learned in your program’s curriculum.

These exams are designed to allow prospective teachers the opportunity to demonstrate not only that they will create an equitable and just space for learning, but that they have mastered the subject matter.

It is important to note that exams taken as a result of Pacific’s College of Education only allow students to teach in the state of Oregon. 

Licensure in other states require subsequent examination of an educator’s credentials.  

Applications for graduate degrees in teaching and education are being accepted now! Interested in earning an undergraduate degree in education? Chat with our undergraduate admissions counselors today!