While many University of Wisconsin students roll out of bed just in time to make it to their 9:55 a.m. class, student teachers in UW’s School of Education wake up at 6:30 a.m. five days a week.
Their day not only begins when it is still dark outside but also continues until at least 4 p.m., after teaching, planning assignments and grading tests. Following an eight-hour day, student teachers are also required to take six credits of class at night.
Jody Fassett, a UW senior majoring in secondary education mathematics, is currently teaching seventh grade students at Winnequah Middle School in Monona. Adjusting to the different time schedule is difficult, according to Fassett.
“Most college students sleep between the hours of one a.m. and 10 a.m, or something slightly nocturnal,” Fassett said. “It makes it hard to have a schedule so different from your friends and roommates.”
Student teachers are required to teach half of their cooperating teacher’s classes for a minimum of four weeks during the semester. However, depending on the cooperating teacher, student teachers often take on a larger workload.
Christina Janz, a UW senior also majoring in secondary education mathematics, teaches eighth grade at Savanna Oaks Middle School in Fitchburg. Janz currently teaches one class on her own and will soon teach two. In addition, Janz spends part of her day planning with fellow team members, supervising a study hall and prepping for the next day.
Because Janz is expected to partake in the same activities as her cooperating teacher, she believes she is gaining valuable skills for use after college.
“It gives me a more realistic view of [the] teaching life,” Janz said. “I feel like it is equivalent to an internship because of the time commitment and first hand experiences gained.”
Eric Knuth, an assistant professor in the School of Education, teaches Curriculum and Instruction 395, a required course Fassett and Janz are currently enrolled in. The course is designed to help future mathematics teachers incorporate technology into the classroom.
Knuth recognized the time commitment and workload student teachers undertake.
“I think it is often times a lot for students to handle,” Knuth said. “I don’t think most people realize in general how difficult is to be a teacher.”
Fassett said she recognizes the benefits and enjoyment found in student teaching.
“It is rewarding when a student who struggled in the beginning makes great improvements because of my influence,” Fassett said.
Student teachers pay full tuition even though they are working a 40-hour job and relieving the workload of a professional teacher. In addition, the cooperating teacher receives a monetary bonus for allowing a student teacher in their classroom.
Student teachers receive 12 credits for teaching at middle schools or high schools and do not receive a grade. Student teachers are also required to teach until June 10th, one month past the end of UW’s semester.
However, changes will soon be implemented in the School of Education’s student teaching program. Instead of teaching full time for two semesters, students will spend one semester teaching part time and attending class part time. The next semester students will teach full time and will not be required to take additional classes.
With the stress that comes along with teaching, Fassett and Janz said they feel the workload is taking over their lives.
“I do not have much of a social life these days,” Janz said. “What keeps me going is knowing I’m almost done.”