The Professional Semester
The Professional Semester is the capstone experience where students have the opportunity to apply, adapt, and incorporate all that they have learned about teaching and learning while working within the context of a public school setting. Student teaching is the core component of the professional semester. This semester consists of two full-time teaching experiences in grade levels appropriate to the area of certification (PreK–4, Grades 4–8, or Grades 7–12). As interns in the public schools, students have the opportunity to utilize the content knowledge and pedagogical skills gained in their academic preparation in actual classroom situations.
Lesson and unit planning, assessment, and classroom management skills are honed with the support of mentor teachers and college supervisors. Daily seminars prior to student teaching and between placements focus on differentiated instruction, questioning strategies, lesson planning, meeting the needs of a diverse public school population, and strategies to enhance student motivation. Weekly seminar sessions during the semester provide the student teachers with a forum to reflect analytically on their classroom experiences as they develop their professional skills and voice.
Highlights of the Student Teaching Experience at Muhlenberg
- Deeply collaborative relationships with cooperating teachers in area public schools
- Extensive mentoring through Muhlenberg supervisors, who visit at least once per week to observe student teachers and provide feedback
- Continued professional and pedagogical development through weekly seminars designed to guide student teachers through the challenging student teaching experience
Student Teaching Outcomes
The Education Program at Muhlenberg has been widely acknowledged as one of the best in the region in large part due to the exceptional mentorship and support provided throughout the professional semester. In our recent review for the Pennsylvania Department of Education, the program as a whole won accolades for its quality, but in particular for the strengths of the demanding yet supportive student teaching program. Alumni have also expressed their recognition and appreciation for how well student teaching prepared them to step into their own classrooms. One Alum said the following about student teaching:
Each semester, ‘Berg students are given more responsibility in these classrooms, culminating in the intensive student teaching semester. .... by the time you graduate you’ll be among the most prepared and professional first year teachers ready to start your career.
In addition, many students are hired before they even complete their student teaching. Graduates go on to teach in diverse settings from small rural schools to large metropolitan districts. No matter where they land, Alum regularly say that the Education Program at Muhlenberg provided the experiences and skills needed to excel.