Internships and Practicums

Practicums and internships serve as the two types of field experience in education. Internships tend to require more practical experience, and practicums tend to constitute as part of a program's coursework. They both offer similar experiences and generally get lumped together under the broader student-teaching category. Non-teaching internships focus more on educational policy and service.

Teaching programs that require an internship or a practicum provide students with the opportunity to work in a classroom and gain valuable experience with students at the elementary, middle, or high school levels. Both practicums and internships allow students to work with young learners and apply the skills, theories, and research they acquired in their coursework to a school setting. However, an internship may require a greater time commitment.

Teaching programs that require an internship or a practicum provide students with the opportunity to work in a classroom and gain valuable experience

Depending on the program, students in a practicum or in an internship may design curricula, present lessons, and take part in activities with their classes. In teaching practicums and internships, college students work with licensed and experienced classroom teachers who direct and supervise their activities, providing feedback along the way.

A practicum involves visiting a classroom several times a week for several weeks. An internship involves everyday teaching for an entire semester and affords education majors more autonomy in the classroom. Some education programs require students to complete both a practicum and an internship, with the practicum functioning as an introduction to the greater responsibilities of the internship.

What to Expect From Your Teaching Internship or Practicum

What Will I to Do for My Teaching Internship or Practicum?

During a teaching practicum, education majors observe classroom learning and teaching styles, often working in a limited capacity with students. A practicum serves as a precursor to student teaching. While many education majors in a practicum prepare lessons, they rarely conduct an entire class. Education practicum students may introduce individual activities or engage with small groups of young students. Once education students acquire classroom experience and gain a comfort level with young learners, they may then take part in an internship. An education internship involves a multi-week teaching experience during which the education major plays a central role in the classroom, with higher expectations and greater responsibility.

In Which Type of Setting Will I Work?

Teaching practicums and internships take place in school classrooms under the supervision of a licensed teacher at an elementary, middle, or high school. Students may take practicum and internship opportunities at private or charter schools, depending on the program and location. During a practicum, education majors may visit more than one classroom, often at various grade levels. An internship, however, usually focuses on one class for an extended period of time. Program internship coordinators or other department personnel may visit interns and observe their activities.

Online education majors can complete a teaching practicum or internship at a school near them. The school's teaching department must approve the location at which a student hopes to complete their practicum or internship.

How Long Will My Internship or Practicum Last?

A teaching practicum can include a variety of hourly requirements that may spread across weeks or an entire semester. Education majors may spend two or three hours several times a week for a full semester on their practicum. The time commitment often depends on the program, degree level, and area of interest.

Teaching internships tend to require full- or part-time commitments, similar to employment. Students generally complete teaching internships over the course of a semester or the summer, ensuring that they receive adequate training. Additionally, teaching internships for undergraduates vary from graduate candidates, so students should check with specific programs for internship and student-teaching requirements.

Will I Get Paid for My Teaching Internship or Practicum?

Practicums involve direct supervision by a program instructor and usually count as part of a class requirement. As a result, students typically do not receive payment. Teaching internships for undergraduate and graduate students sometimes go unpaid as well, especially full-time student-teaching experiences. However, some internships may involve compensation of some kind. Non-teaching internships that concentrate on policy, social issues, or education advocacy often come with stipends that pay for room and board.

Will I Get Academic Credit for My Internship or Practicum?

Teaching practicums combine education theory and practice. When students visit a classroom for a practicum, they do so in conjunction with a specific course. Students may complete non-teaching and teaching internships for academic credit as well. If a student takes on an internship as an additional part of their program, such as an elective or an independent study, those experiences can count as credit.

How Will My Teaching Internship or Practicum Help Me?

Teaching practicums and internships prepare students for future teaching positions in elementary, middle school, or high school education. A teaching practicum prepares students for student teaching by giving them access to a classroom, a licensed teacher, and experience working with young learners. Practicums often take place when students enroll in educational theory or methods courses that provide students with a chance to see those theories and methods implemented. An internship or student-teaching experience also gives education majors the forum to apply their learning. Interns and student teachers take on all of the responsibilities of a classroom, preparing lesson plans, delivering materials, and working directly with students daily.

Where to Find Student-Teaching Opportunities

Education majors enjoy several options for finding an internship or student-teaching position. College and university career centers and online job boards and internship databases provide lists of available internships. Similarly, job fairs and recruiting events give students a chance to meet directly with representatives from schools and employers.

Your School's Career Center

Your institution offers student-support and career-service links that provide lists of degree-specific internships and job opportunities. It also provides information about how to create a resume or prepare for an interview.

Job Fairs

Job fairs bring internship providers into one place so that students can network and talk to a variety of representatives. At job fairs, students can find out about internships specific to their interests.

Recruiting Events

Internship providers and schools that need teaching interns visit colleges and universities to recruit education majors. They may invite students on site, depending on the specific event and location.

Alumni Network

College and university alumni provide networking opportunities to current students and often look for candidates for internships and job openings from their old school. Students can work with their school's alumni office or with departmental personnel who keep current alumni information.

Job Boards and Internship Databases

Job boards and internship databases online provide lists of internships worldwide. These resources provide students with the ability to search for their specific interests and preferred locations.

Teaching Internship Opportunities

Internships.com

Internships.com provides internship information for future teachers and students that want to know more about curriculum development or education policy. Interns can search the website by interest and region.

Teach for America

Teach for America offers internship, fellowship, and summer programs to students based in the U.S.; it focuses on students who face social, political, and economic inequities.

World Endeavors

World Endeavors provides internship opportunities internationally, placing students in educational institutions of all levels. Bilingual students may take advantage of multi-language teaching opportunities.

Idealist.org

Idealist.org is a searchable database of internships and employment opportunities that lists nonprofit and volunteer opportunities worldwide.

The Education Trust

The Education Trust is a nationwide, nonprofit organization tasked with closing opportunity gaps for students of color, low-income families, and groups faced with education inequity.

Children's Defense Fund

The Children's Defense Fund provides internships to college students and recent graduates dedicated to child advocacy and public policy. Internships occur during the summer, fall, and spring terms.

Resources

  • Scholastic Scholastic provides resources for educators to use in the classroom, including activities, book lists, and online tools. In addition to content for kids, parents, and educators, Scholastic also boasts helpful teaching tips.
  • TeachHub.com Provided by the K-12 Teachers Alliance, TeachHub.com offers teaching and learning resources, professional development information, and insights into classroom experiences. The site also offers advice and resources for education students as they prepare for their student teaching.
  • Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development Future student teachers can access information about how supervisors see their role through this site. This can give teaching practicum and internship participants a guide to the key questions they need to ask.
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