Laramie High School welcomed the new University of Wyoming student teachers as they began their 12-week long internship starting the first week of January.

UW student teachers are paired with existing LHS teachers to be their mentors.

 Teacher pair Laurie Mckain and student teacher McKenna Walker explain the shaping process of student teaching as well as providing a perspective from both the teacher and student teacher point of view.

“Student teaching is invaluable. You cannot understand how to be a teacher until you have done student teaching,” Walker said.

It is widely agreed upon that the skills learned within a student teaching environment shape both the teacher and student teacher to become better and more proficient in their careers.

However, it has also been more widely noted that the experience while invaluable is also rather short.

Both McKain and Walker agreed that the student teacher program would benefit by allowing student teachers to take longer internships, in classroom observations and realistic teaching scenarios. 

“I wish that the University of Wyoming could provide a way for their students to start teaching kids sooner,” Walker said.

” I wish we could do yearlong internships,” McKain said.

While the time spent at LHS is relatively short, both McKain and Walker describe the experience as being a positive one full of support and growth.

The relationships formed between the student teachers and their mentor teachers allows for a more encouraging experience as well as one that promotes the healthy flow of ideas and communication in the classroom.

“I try to give a lot of freedom, and a lot of feedback. I try to be a cheerleader and a support,” McKain said.

Student teachers have a hard job balancing the new work load and responsibilities of being a teacher.

Mentor teachers are also given a difficult task of showing by example of their own personal style as well as encouraging the independence and creativity of their student teachers.

As stated by McKain, the process of finding a healthy medium between cheerleader and support is a difficult one and requires a lot of trial and error.

McKain encourages her student teacher to try new things in the supervised classroom environment so she can learn and discover her teaching style.

“A lot of the things you learn in student teaching is by trying,” McKain said.

McKain also shares how the flexibility taught during her student teaching experience allowed her to connect better with her students and to see failure as a new learning experience.

“Even the best teachers, the ones who have been doing it for ten years need to try new things,” McKain said.

Walker describes her experience as a student teacher as being a positive one, she especially appreciated being able to watch her mentor teacher and learn from her example.

“Everything she [McKain] does she has a reason for doing and is based on theory and experience,” Walker said.

While McKain will miss her student teacher, she enjoys having her until the end of her internship.

“I actually wish they could student teach for a little bit longer,” McKain said.