Alberta Teachers' Association logo in colour, all one line.


Student Teacher

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


Success in the field experience depends on the student teacher’s ability to be proactive and engaged in meeting the expectations and requirements of the field experience program, as well as developing healthy, positive and professional relationships with all participants. This section examines the student teacher’s requirements, roles and responsibilities in ensuring a successful personal and professional field experience.

In learning, you will teach, and in teaching, you will learn.

Phil Collins
Current Factors Impacting Student Teacher Success

In its work and research in field experience programming, the Association has identified the following factors impacting student teacher success.

  • Increased mental health concerns (staff, students and preservice students)
  • Changing student teacher demographic profile
  • Increased complexity of teaching tasks and responsibilities
  • Evolving demands of the teaching profession
  • Socialization within the profession
  • Rapid technology changes affecting teaching delivery, including artificial intelligence (AI)
  • Alberta Education legislation: Teaching Quality Standard applicable to all teachers effective September 2019
Profile of Millennial Student Teachers

Understanding the profile of millennials will enable schools and school jurisdictions to attract, recruit, retain and motivate this generation of teachers.

Abrams (2018) notes the following qualities of millennial teachers (born between 1980 and 2000):

  • They “are high-achieving, tenacious, confident, and progressive educators. They are often high-energy multi-taskers who are deeply tech savvy and globally minded” (p 75).
  • They “can bring enthusiasm, tech-readiness, competence, and a spirit of collaboration into the workplace. Many of them are accustomed to working in teams and enjoy having support and structure” (p 76).
  • They “are globally minded, want to make a difference in their work, and need the tools to do so” (p 78).
  • They prefer a “collaborative, team-based space led by coaches ‘who guide and partner with employees to achieve goals’ (Hodges, 2016)” (p 77), rather than command-and-control leaders overseeing employees.
  • They “thrive in a school environment where their administration responds quickly and provides plenty of timely information” (p 76).
  • They “love rubrics and models. They like specific details and the ability to ask questions and get clarification” (p 76).
  • They want clear expectations, including for “the school’s social media, internet, and email policies. They will want to know, for example, what the parameters are for what they can post and access online and whether there are restrictions on digital communications with students” (p 77). They also want information about “valued practices and behaviors in classrooms, [the district’s] priorities regarding curriculum alignment, and its understanding of what it means to be a professional” (p 77).
  • Because “many millennials are eager and ready for new learning and opportunities, sooner rather than later,” Abrams suggests that school systems support their leadership interests by “provid[ing] them with opportunities to conduct peer observations, attend conferences, run book studies, and facilitate Twitter chats” and “support[ing] and leverag[ing] new teachers’ interests in social justice.”

Overall, “school systems should want to support and leverage new teachers’ interests in social justice, professional growth and meaningful employment” (p 78).

Infographic on millennial teachers.

The above information is shared with permission from Abrams (2018).


What does the student teacher need to know, do and be in a diverse, inclusive and equitable society where the demands to create highly educated youth are at the top of everyone's agenda?

Friesen (2018) asks, “What does a [student teacher] need to know, do, and be in a diverse, inclusive, and equitable society where the demands to create highly educated youth are at the top of everyone’s agenda?”

In her discussion, she states that student teachers

need to know how to create the conditions within which rich powerful learning emerges, flourishes, strengthens, and deepens. They need to know how to adapt their teaching in response to learning. They need to understand that learning occurs in formal and informal environments and settings. Teachers who know how to learn, are inspired to continue learning, and collaborate with each other, know that learning individually and collectively is essential in today’s world.

Developmental Stages of Preservice Teachers: A Critical Analysis

This article aims to provide assistance for teachers to gain insight into developmental stages of preservice teachers. This insight, if employed effectively, can help teachers educators facilitate teacher development processes.

The following is adapted with permission from Khoshnevisan (2017).

Stage 1: Hesitations and Doubts

Preservice teachers step into the process with uncertainty because of their lack of prior experience. Every assignment is a challenge during this stage. Arguably, this stage starts from the beginning of their enrolment in the course and may or may not continue toward the end of the process.

Stage 2: Recognition

Recognition begins with the first field experience. As soon as preservice teachers are encountered with a physical classroom, they understand the hardships of class management. Observing different classrooms and recognizing different techniques they have already studied, preservice teachers enter into the next stage, called recognition.

Stage 3: Learning New Techniques and Strategies in Action

Preservice teachers explore new techniques and teaching strategies, enriching their repository of techniques to employ in their future teaching profession. The novelty of techniques may appear perplexing at first. Later, preservice teachers learn to absorb new techniques in action rather than solely learning them from books.

Stage 4: Seeking Opportunities to Teach

Preservice teachers seem to be ready to start teaching. Later, during their field experience sessions or practicum, preservice teachers find the opportunity to practise what they have already learned. This is the first practical stage and includes all the former stages combined. It is highly recommended that preservice teachers be given an opportunity to teach so that they can not only gain hands-on experience but also start this stage long before they become inservice teachers.

Stage 5: Building Trust and Confidence

The output of this process is confidence. At this stage, teachers have successfully constructed their teacher identity. They may not be master teachers, and it is not to say that they will not face hardships in their career. However, they are confident in their profession, and they accept hardships while moving toward mastery and competency.

Because of the nonlinear, multilayer developmental nature of these stages of preservice teacher development, student teachers can activate a layer at any stage to accommodate their needs. Their progress throughout the stages is not necessarily linear.

Different cogs showing the development of a preservice teacher.

The developmental stages of preservice teachers.