In order to receive an initial teaching certificate in the state of Illinois every candidate (with some exceptions) must complete a minimum of ten weeks of student teaching. In the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Northern Illinois University the length of student teaching assignments varies by program, with anywhere from ten to sixteen weeks being required. Student teaching is not a paid experience.
Students must apply in advance for student teaching. Transportation to the student teaching site is the responsibility of the student. In addition to having completed the NIU certification program requirements, prior to student teaching the student must (a) have earned a minimum of 14 semester hours at NIU, (b) have earned 90 semester hours, and (c) make all arrangements for student teaching through the appropriate department. Students may not make their own arrangements for student teaching sites nor may they request a change once an assignment has been confirmed by the cooperating school.
Student teachers assume the class schedule and supervisory responsibilities of their cooperating teacher(s). A full-load for a student teacher usually consists of five classes with two or three preparations per day. There is usually a phase-in period, when the student teacher initially observes the classes of his or her cooperating teacher(s) and then is gradually given more responsibility. Usually by the second or third week the student teacher assumes full responsibility for all of his or her classes. At the end of the student teaching assignment there is usually a "phase-out" period as well, so that the students can again be acclimated to their regular teacher.
Certification candidates must submit an application for their 401/ student teaching assignment to their discipline coordinators the semester before their 401 clinical (or discipline-based equivalent). Our program attempts to place students in the same school for their last clinical and their student teaching, in order for candidates to acclimate themselves to the school and classroom environments prior to their student teaching. Candidates may request to be placed at specific schools and with specific cooperating teachers, but placement decisions are ultimately made by the secondary schools. Many factors affect the placement decisions, such as the qualifications of the teaching candidate, the availability of qualified cooperating teachers in the school, and the number of student teachers and clinical students currently or previously placed in a school and/or department.
When students are in their final semester of the program, they will begin the process of applying for their certificate. This includes beginning the electronic process for the State of Illinois via their Educator Certification System / ECS.
Students will also initiate an internal process through the program offices by submitting endorsement forms that indicate the areas in which they have completed coursework, taken the state content test field exam, and are considered "highly qualified" according to ISBE and the provisions of the "No Child Left Behind" federal legislation.