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Educator Effectiveness

Student Teachers

Best Practices

  • Student teachers are essential, bringing benefits to your school/district: As your district navigates staffing challenges, consider the incredible assets student teachers can bring to your schools. Student teachers can help you build a strong, diverse pipeline for the future, while bringing value to your staff and students right now:
    • When it comes to your teacher pipeline, student teachers are more likely to:
      • Teach in your district after completing their program,
      • Be more effective than the average first year teacher due to the professional learning that results from their experiences teaching in your school district, and
      • Continue teaching in your district for longer than other new hires.
    • o Student teachers may introduce and strengthen culturally responsive and/or innovative approaches to teaching and learning, supporting improved student learning outcomes and experiences.
    • Studies suggest that the presence of a student teacher has a positive effect on both student achievement and engagement.
  • Use available data to learn more about the preparation providers currently providing student teachers and/or new hires for your district.

Current Considerations

As districts continue to manage staffing shortages, many are turning to student teachers to provide needed support in both short- and long-term substitute positions. Student teachers can play an important and supportive role in addressing staffing needs; however, school leaders and preparation providers must work together to ensure that student teachers are supported in their ongoing development during the critical practicum phase of their preparation.

When considering a student teacher for a short- or long-term substitute position, ask the following questions:

  • Is this position in the student teacher's licensure area?
    • If yes, this could be an ideal opportunity. A student teacher brings that critical content knowledge to the classroom, and it affords them an opportunity to experience a different classroom or group of students as they work to further develop and deepen their practice.
    • If no, consider other educators that have more experience in that role, or work to ensure that the placement is temporary in order to limit disruptions to the student teacher's required practicum and related field-based experience as well as potential impact on students.
  • Will you be able to provide the supervision and feedback required for a student teacher to complete their field-based experience?
    • If a student teacher takes on a substitute role, work closely with their preparation provider to ensure that appropriate supervision and feedback remains available to the candidate, along with the required observations of practice that are a required part of their field-based experience.
    • If you are unable to provide sufficient supervision and feedback, work to ensure that any substitute role outside of a student teacher's designated field-based placement is temporary, such that they can continue to meet the requirements for a high quality pre-practicum or practicum placement.
  • Is the student teacher ready to assume lead responsibility within a classroom?
    • If considering a student teacher for a substitute position of any duration, consider their readiness for lead responsibility. Speak with their current host teacher/supervising practitioner, as well as your prep program liaison, to confirm their readiness and ensure that appropriate supports and resources are available.

Promising practices and solutions for working with student teachers to address staffing shortages include:

  • In elementary schools, create a grade-level substitute role that one or more designated student teachers fill when needed. This ensures ongoing access to their supervising practitioner and proximity to their specific content or licensure area.
  • Ask the host teacher/supervising practitioner (rather than their student teacher) to assume a last-minute or short-term substitute need, allowing the student teacher to remain in the "home" classroom where they have relationships and familiarity with the students as they practice the added level of responsibility. Support the student teacher via deeper debriefs and reflections, and/or supplemental observations from the program supervisor during these times.
  • Use early candidates completing the pre-practicum to provide additional student support. Early candidates might:
    • Provide 1:1 and small group tutoring support. Ask prep faculty/supervisors to strategically support planning, assignments, and feedback.
    • Conduct screener assessments or diagnostics with students. This allows teachers to spend time understanding and acting on the data, rather than collecting it.
  • Allow for virtual observations (live and/or recorded) to support continued feedback to student teachers, particularly if they are teaching without direct oversight from a supervising practitioner. Exceptions can and should be made to 'no-video' policies for the purpose of supporting teacher candidates in classrooms.

Additional benefits to leveraging student teachers:

  • As schools look to prioritize relationships and social-emotional support, student teachers provide an additional connection point for students,
  • Student teachers can support students to deepen, accelerate, and extend academic learning in small groups, 1:1 settings, or through a variety of co-teaching models.
  • As another adult in the classroom, student teachers can help build strong family-school partnerships through frequent communication.

Spotlight on Racial Equity

The educator preparation pipeline in Massachusetts is much more racially diverse than the current workforce: in the 2022-23 school year, 19.6% of program completers identified as people of color, compared to 13.9% of the Commonwealth's educators.

Research shows that diverse educators have a wide range of positive effects on all students. In addition to building an antiracist work environment, prioritizing student teachers can be an important step toward diversifying your district's teacher workforce.

Questions to Consider

  • How can we leverage a more diversified student teacher population to increase the number of teachers of color who enter the workforce and are employed in our school/district?
  • How can student teachers support my school and district's student and staff needs?
  • How can partnerships with prep programs support our district's pipeline in years to come?
Additional Resources


For their contributions to this module, we'd like to thank the following individuals:

Dr. Des Floyd

Dr. Des Floyd, Director of Clinical Learning and Educator Development, High Meadows Graduate School of Teaching and Learning

Desiree Ivey

Desirée Ivey, Executive Director of Teacher Training, Shady Hill School


Goldhaber, Dan, John Krieg, and Roddy Theobald. "Exploring the Impact of Student Teaching Apprenticeships on Student Achievement and Mentor Teachers." CALDER Working Paper No. 207-1118-1, 2020.

Goldhaber, Dan, and Matthew Ronfeldt. "Sustaining Teacher Training in a Shifting Environment." EdResearch for Recovery, 2020.

Please contact us at with questions, feedback, or for additional support and partnership around any of the practices and resources included in this guide.

Last Updated: November 17, 2023

Contact Us

Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
135 Santilli Highway, Everett, MA 02149

Voice: (781) 338-3000
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