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Student Teacher

A female teacher wearing a head covering with a young male student helping him read a book.

Roles and Responsibilities

Role of Student Teacher

Postsecondary institutions in Alberta that offer teacher preparation programs continue to increase in number and diversity. The specific roles and responsibilities of student teachers in these programs will vary; however, student teachers are expected to demonstrate professional attitudes, values and beliefs through their behaviours.

essential tools & ADVICE

“Never ever, EVER let anyone tell you it’ll be easy . . . just worth it.”

Responsibility to the Cooperating Teacher

The student teacher has a professional responsibility toward the cooperating teacher, who has expressed a willingness to share their professional experience, wisdom and knowledge, as well as a commitment to guide and support new teachers in their transition from student to teacher. A guide in the student teacher’s journey, the cooperating teacher assists the student teacher in navigating the complexities of the field experience and helps them develop a sense of professional efficacy.

Working within the legal frameworks of the field experience program (regulations, procedures and instructional practices), the student teacher is also expected to develop professional, respectful relationships with their cooperating teacher, maintain an open-minded attitude, be reflective of their teaching practice, be willing to engage in new opportunities toward continuous improvement and lifelong learning, develop self-awareness and awareness of the context they are teaching in, and actively seek out their expertise.

essential tools & ADVICE

“Teaching is more than a job, it’s a way of life. My [student teaching] experience at [...] has shown me tremendous commitment that one has to make to the profession.”

Responsibility to the School Leader

The success of the student teaching placement rests largely on the positive professional relationships the student teacher develops with the cooperating teacher and the university advisor but also with school leaders. Furthermore, school leaders expect student teachers to participate fully in the life of the school while abiding by the expectations the school has of its teachers.

Student teachers are assigned to a particular school placement in a school jurisdiction because of agreements between teacher preparation programs and various school districts in the province. When student teachers are given a placement, they also agree to abide by the regulations, procedures and instructional practices of that school. It is the responsibility of the student teachers to become familiar with all documents and policies related to the field experience and to develop an ethical, respectful and professional working relationship with all students, professional personnel (including administration) and members of the wider community.

essential tools & ADVICE

“There are some moments in one’s life which tickle one’s nerves particularly and the first solo-flight is among them.”

Responsibility to the Faculty Advisor

This information has been adapted from the website University of Alberta, Faculty of Education, Undergraduate Student Services, Field Experiences (2020). For additional information, please consult that website. Minor changes have been made to fit ATA style.

Field experiences programs vary throughout the province, and placements may vary dependent upon the postsecondary institution, the school jurisdiction and school alternative calendars.

Students within their final field experience need to understand their field experience is a full-time commitment as one would approach a full-time teaching position.

Although your faculty advisor is responsible for assessing your growth as a student teacher, their responsibility also involves coaching you in your development as a teacher and providing detailed, formative feedback about your teaching and planning.

Faculty advisors can serve as expert sources of information. In addition to reaching out to their cooperating teachers, student teachers should actively seek their faculty advisors with questions for instruction, planning, assessment and reflection.

Responsibilities toward the university faculty advisor are similar in nature to that of the cooperating teacher; however, responsibilities specifically toward the supervisor include the following:

  • Develop a positive and professional relationship with the faculty advisor.
  • Adhere to the Code of Professional Conduct.
  • Adhere to guidelines from the Alberta Teachers’ Association regarding e-liability (teacher online presence).
  • Prior to placement, be proactive in reading sections of the field experience handbook pertaining to your responsibilities, expectations, legal obligations and so on.
  • Attend all meetings initiated by the faculty advisor.
  • Be punctual.
  • Be prepared for meetings with the faculty advisor with materials and required completed work (lesson plans, unit plans, self-evaluations, journal entries, portfolio and so on).
  • Be organized.
  • Communicate regularly with the advisor (e-mail/text).
  • Be available.
  • Be open-minded.
  • Be flexible.