Under Wisconsin State regulations, all teacher education students are required to complete at least one pre-student teaching practicum and at least one full semester of student teaching. Most programs at UW-Madison require students to complete additional field experiences. 

Pre-Student Teaching Practicum

The pre-student teaching practicum gives students first-hand knowledge of the classroom environment and the teacher's role. For many students, the practicum is the initial encounter with the real world of teaching. Practicum students do not assume the degree of classroom responsibility they do during student teaching. Under the supervision of an experienced teacher, practicum students observe classroom activities, assist the teacher with day-to-day classroom management tasks, interact one-to-one with students, and instruct small groups. In some programs practicum students will lead activities and assume responsibility for whole class instruction. The cooperating teacher and university supervisor use the practicum to assess the student's readiness for the student teaching experience. For this reason, active student engagement in the practicum experience is necessary and expected. 

Student Teaching Experience

Student teaching, the culminating field experience, is a full-time, school-district semester assignment that places a university student under the guidance of an experienced, qualified cooperating teacher.  Most semesters with a student teacher will follow a similar progression—through periods of orientation, participation and collaboration, independence, and closure.  The process of gradually releasing responsibility for the classroom to a student teacher is highly supported by the cooperating teacher and university supervisor. It is also uniquely tailored to each student teacher’s strengths and areas of growth.