More Mentors Needed For Student Teachers

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- Iowa State University's School of Education will place a record number of student teachers this spring. But, the school has to overcome a few challenges first.

Every teacher needs to get experience standing in front of students before leading their own classroom. Student Teacher Teegan Ebenhoh says, "You never really understand student teaching, no matter how many times people or professors or anyone in your life tells you it's going to be hard, and it's going to be a lot of work, you don't understand until you're doing it."

This is Ebenhoh's 12th week of student teaching. She's part of ISU's School of Education and gaining valuable experience before she graduates in a preschool classroom at Woodlawn Education Center in Des Moines. She says, "This time in the classroom, having someone with you is, it's extremely crucial to what we do because there's no other experience like it until you're teaching by yourself."

Iowa State’s Educator Preparation Program requires students to spend time in a classroom for their practicum and be a student teacher for 14 to 16 weeks under the supervision of a cooperating teacher.

This year, Iowa State needs a record number of cooperating teachers for the school's students. ISU Director of Teacher Education Services Heidi Doellinger says, "This spring we need a total 465 placements for a total of 270 students. Our previous high was 194 students, so we've kind of jumped in our enrollment."

One challenge is the cooperating teacher must have at least three years of experience and meet certain requirements with Iowa State and the school district before they can work with a student teacher. Doellinger says, "On top of that, we have a new initiative, or new legislative initiative in the state of Iowa called the Teacher Compensation Initiative."

That means many experienced teachers are now in leadership roles and no longer in the classroom. So, the School of Education is working with partner districts to recruit more cooperating teachers, and more students are encouraged to get experience outside the state. Doellinger says, "We place in Aldine, Texas, Omaha, and outside of Minneapolis, in Chicago, and outside of Kansas City, and then we also have 7 international sites that we place at."

Ebenhoh is thankful for her time in the classroom and is excited to one day lead a class of her own. She says, "I feel like I'm in my element when I'm in front of them."