Misbeliefs & Realities about
Student Teaching

Student teaching is an experience full of possibilities and for many student teachers (ST) is the exciting culmination of their teacher preparation journey. Student teachers and cooperating teachers (CT or CI) may have misconceptions that they bring to the placement, and both the CT and ST may need to manage their expectations. Consider these common misbeliefs and the contrasting realities.

(1) Misbelief: All student teachers are at the same level

Reality arrow Even student teachers that have gone through the same teacher preparation program will differ in their ability to plan and implement instruction in a real classroom. Individual personalities, teaching styles, content knowledge and general competence must always be considered.

(2) Misbelief: Cooperating teachers are experts in everything

Reality arrow While placing a student teacher with an expert (CT) is the goal of all teacher education, it is important to remember that just like student teachers, CTs vary in their teaching competencies. Many CTs encourage student teachers to interact with other teachers who have different expertise than their own. Student teachers should learn from other teachers in their clinical placement.

(3) Misbelief: After completing course work, student teachers are experts

Reality arrow Some student teachers believe that they know what to expect and will be on par with their CT. They sometimes forget that they are a (working) visitor in someone else's classroom and their successes are bolstered by the presence of the experienced CT. Student teaching is part of a developmental process that moves them from course work to application.

(4) Misbelief: All feedback to student teachers must be positive

Reality arrow Praise is useful when it is specific and tied to the student teacher's performance. Pointing out only positive elements will result in a slower rate of learning than incorporating praise with critical feedback and strategies for change.

(5) Misbelief: The cooperating teacher has planned everything; there’s nothing left for the student teacher to input

Reality arrow Sometimes, student teachers feel as if the CT has already created every possible lesson, material or activity and they wonder why they can't just use existing materials. In other cases, the CT feels that the student teacher will learn more if they make everything from scratch. The truth lies in the middle and is exemplified within a co-teaching model.

Misbeliefs (6-10)


student teacherKnow that it (student teaching) is going to be difficult, but super rewarding. Know that you can trust in your course work and if you really try to apply the things that you learned... you're going to be okay." - Hillary Trebels, Student Teacher