Seniors in Baylor’s School of Education teacher education program are required to participate in a year long internship experience in Waco and surrounding schools to graduate with certification as a classroom teacher in the State of Texas. This internship requires seniors to work with an assigned mentor teacher and classroom for either one semester or the whole year.
According to Baylor’s School of Education, the teacher education programs are unique among universities in Texas. All field experience takes place in Professional Development Schools that are part of a cooperative endeavor with Baylor School of Education.
Dr. Krystal Goree, clinical faculty member and director of professional practice, said when comparing students in their teaching associate year and their intern year, the big difference is the number of students they work with and the amount of time they spend in the classroom.
“The main difference overall would be the teaching associate year candidates are going into the classrooms between three and fives times a week working with smaller groups of students generally and coming home and taking other course work,” Goree said. “When they move into the intern year they are at the schools Monday through Thursday with the exact same schedules as a regular teacher.”
Plano senior Sarah Davis said the transition from being a teaching assistant her junior year to now being an intern her senior year has been overwhelming, but in a good way.
“As a TA, you’re only in the classroom for about an hour, and you don’t really get the full classroom experience,” Davis said. “They kind of just throw you into it, which is actually kind of good because you don’t really know what to expect.”
Goree said the School of Education helps students in their transition from their junior teaching associate year to their senior interning year.
“We also present to them on mental health and wellness,” Goree said. “We train them to recognize and work with students who are dyslexic. They all receive CPR/first aid training. It’s up to them to get it, but they are required to have that.”
Davis added that the transition from being a teaching assistant to being an intern can be a lot to handle. She said the experience she has gone through at this point is invaluable. In addition, she said it has been a true learning experience for what a teacher will experience their first year in an actual classroom.
“You’ve heard stories good and bad, and so you’re kind of nervous, but it is kind of how a teacher feels,” Davis said. “They get all this paper work, they have students, documents and then they need to figure out their lessons for the year and it is good we kind of get to see the process at the beginning.”
Once starting off the senior year as an intern, seniors hit the ground running at their assigned schools. Davis said the amount of time spent in the schools has been the biggest adjustment for her as she has started her intern year.
“First off, you’re at the school all day; that’s a big difference,” Davis said. “Junior year you have to arrive at your school at 7:45 a.m. and then you leave at like 11 a.m. Senior year I have to get there at 7:30 a.m., and sometimes I’m there till like 5 p.m., and so it’s like a real work day.”
In addition to teaching throughout the day, another transition Davis said from junior to senior year has been the extra preparation that goes into teaching her students the next day.
“I need to make copies for the next day; I need to prepare my lessons,” Davis said. “I usually look at what I’m teaching the next day if I have all the materials I need for that lesson and that would help me know ‘hey, I don’t have enough copies or papers for this lesson, so I’m going to need to go in early tomorrow morning and make copies.’”
Since interns during their senior year are not on Baylor’s campus during the school day because they are in the schools teaching all day, Davis said not being on campus has been tough.
“It is hard because I don’t get to see my friends on campus anymore,” she said. “I can’t grab lunch at the SUB and catch up with someone. But then, it also helps me realize that I’m a senior. I’m growing up.”
In addition, interns in the schools also go through the huge change where they are no longer the students but instead are in front of the classroom teaching the students.
“It’s weird not having a sit-down class where you’re learning,” Davis said. “You’re not the one sitting in a desk; you’re the one out of the desk.”
Davis, who plans to be a teacher in an elementary school after she graduates from Baylor said she hopes to bring a light to her students and is able to show them the fun side of learning.
“There’s fun in learning more and growing your knowledge,” she said.
Davis said she is positive the rest of her intern year is going to be a learning experience that will help her grow to be the best teacher she can possibly be.
“Hopefully when I’m full-time teaching, I’ll be way more ahead,” Davis said.