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A. Lyon, C. Finegan

Wright State University (UNITED STATES)
The opportunity to participate in internships in schools early in their college career, along with the requirement to reflect on classroom experiences, is vital to the understanding of the realities of the classroom and the role of the teacher.

An early school experience, coupled with the requirement for ongoing reflection, allows candidates to enter the field of education with a clearer understanding of teaching and the role of a teacher.

The purpose of this study was to chart the growth of undergraduate candidates during early internships prior to formal admission into the teacher education preparation programs. This qualitative study was designed to offer opportunities for candidates to reflect on several topics. These online reflections were gathered from 300 candidates over a 14-week internship.

The findings indicate:
• the necessity for the close collaboration between the classroom teacher and the candidate.
• the need to understand the demographics of the community.
• the need for teacher flexibility.
• the many and varied roles that the teacher plays.
• the recognition of individual skills possessed and those needed to pursue education as a career.

A pre and post study is planned to document the candidates’ expectations of the role of the teacher prior to and after the internship experience.