Student Teaching


All courses in the Division of Education must have been satisfactorily completed before undertaking the professional student teaching experience.  These include EDUC 235 “Educating Exceptional Learners,” EDUC 202 “Topics in Professionalism,” EDUC 219 “Educational Psychology,” and EDUC 217 “Education and American Culture.”

All professional courses in the Greatbatch School of Music must have been satisfactorily completed before undertaking the student teaching experience. These specifically include all Theory and Aural Skills courses (including successful completion of Aural Skills exam*), at least three of the four Music History courses, all music methods courses, all required conducting courses, and all required instruments and/or techniques courses (exceptions may occasionally be made in this last category to resolve scheduling conflicts).

Field Experience – Music Education majors will have to document 100 clock hours of observations of professional music teachers and practice teaching in schools in order to be approved for student teaching.  70 -75 of these hours will be acquired by taking the MED 210 “Field Experience in Music Education” course during the Mayterm of either your freshman or sophomore years. The remaining 25 - 30 hours will be fulfilled as part of requirements for methods classes, professional education courses, and a number on your own.  The Observation Report Form must be used for the submission of all music-related hours.  The required education courses may supply their own reporting format.

It should also be noted that New York State Department of Education requires all music education students to take a course in the teaching of language acquisition and literacy.  This course (MED 211 “Workshop: Language Acquisition and Literacy Development”) is to be taken in conjunction with MED 210 “Field Experience in Music Education” during the Mayterm of the student’s freshman or sophomore year.

*The music ed. sight-singing exam will be given as a part of the final exam in Aural Skills III. If not passed, the exam must be repeated each semester until passed.  Music ed. majors MUST take sight-singing for credit until the exam is passed. (Faculty action, 03 SEP ’90)

Student Teaching Length

The student teaching experience will consist of a full semester in the field: a half-semester (seven weeks) in an elementary-level placement and a half-semester in a secondary-level placement.  A required component will include attendance at the annual NYSSMA (New York State School Music Association) Winter Conference in early December generally held in Rochester.

Student Teaching Orientation is usually on the first day of classes.  However, you will officially start your placement the week before Labor Day attending school district in-service days and assisting your first mentor teacher.  You may also have a Student Teaching Seminar class that week.

Placements will run until the end of the fall semester (music student teaching is not permitted in the spring semester, except in rare circumstances).  Music student teaching placements go a week longer than those in other areas of education so that student teachers may be afforded the opportunity to conduct a piece on the school’s winter concert.

Seminar will generally meet on Tuesday evenings on the West Seneca/Transit Road campus.  Some of the sessions will be held in conjunction with Education Department Seminars.  The Seminar syllabus will outline all of these dates.

Attendance at the NYSSMA Winter Conference is required.  Details will be explained in Seminar.  The conference runs from a Thursday – Saturday in early December. Student teachers will be dismissed from a day and a half of their second placement in order to attend.

Following the NYSSMA Winter Conference, Seminar class will continue to meet in West Seneca.


Arrangements for housing and necessary travel for the student teaching semester are your responsibility.  This is a pre-professional experience: one aspect of professional life is taking responsibility for one’s own housing and transportation.  The Coordinator of Music Education and the Education Department will assist you as much as possible in making these arrangements.  It will be necessary for you to return to the campus for periodic meetings of the student teaching seminar, Distinguished Artists, possible weekend research, etc.  Therefore, access to private transportation of some sort is most useful.  We endeavor to so place students so at least one of the group of students teaching near one another will have a car.  Should that not be possible, we will endeavor to insure a safe and reliable means of transportation to and from the campus.


Housing may often be obtained in the area of the school where you will be interning through a church in the area, through alumni in the area or through teachers in the school.  This rarely proves to be a problem.

On-Campus Housing

In the event that you need to be on the campus for a brief time before the start of school, and for the week and a half to 2 weeks following the conclusion of your student teaching experience, the following guidelines apply:

1. The housing office of the college will endeavor to house you in a dormitory room on a cost-per-night basis both before students return for the beginning of school and at the end of the semester.  It is unlikely that the housing office will be unable to accommodate you in a dorm room.  Normal drop-out,  unexpected illness, etc. all contribute to the availability of beds near the end of the semester.

2. In the unlikely event that all dorm beds should be full, the college has guest housing, both in the dorms and in homes in the community, which will be made available to you at a most reasonable rate.  You will still have a private place to call your own for the brief period of time that you will be on the campus.

Observation/Practicum Requirement

The Greatbatch School of Music and the New York State Department of Education deem it important for music education students to have opportunities to observe firsthand experienced practicing professionals early in their training in order for them to: (a) understand the nature and practical realities of the profession, (b) be able to make an informed decision as to whether or not to pursue a career as a music educator, and (c) gain insight regarding techniques, strategies, methods, etc.  To that end, the School of Music has initiated an observation/practicum requirement for all music educator majors.


Observation:  An observation involves attendance in a formal music class, ehearsal, or lesson taught or directed by a professional music teacher.  The observer may participate in activities, ut the purpose is to simply observe the teacher’s strategies, methods, echniques, etc.

Practicum:  It is important for music ducation students to not only observe, but to also gain practical experience as a music teacher. “Practicum” involves the actual teaching or directing of a lesson, class, or rehearsal under the supervision of a professional music teacher.  For instance, a music education student may be asked by a professional teacher to work with a section, ensemble, or individual in an orchestra or choir.  The student could be asked to teach a group or private lesson.  In such situations, the music education student is always answerable to the professional teacher.

Observation or Practicum Unit:  An observation or practicum experience is considered to be an entire class, lesson, or rehearsal.  These situations will vary in time from 15 minutes (as in the case of some in-school private or group lessons) to an hour or more for a rehearsal (band, choir, orchestra, musical, etc).  In order for the music education student to obtain maximum benefit from an observation, it is important that the entire instructional period be observed.  However, a student could observe a class or rehearsal and, during the course of it, be asked to teach a portion of the class or lead a sectional rehearsal while the remainder of the ensemble continues to rehearse, thus obtaining practicum experience also.  While there is no specified requirement, students are strongly encouraged to seek a balance between the number of observation and practicum experiences.  In other words, a student should not only observe, but also seek opportunities to gain “hands-on” experience. Items on the documentation form will direct the student to indicate whether the situation is either observation, practicum, or both.

Requirement Terminology & Definitions

Each music education major will be required to document (see “Documentation” below) 100 hours of observation/practicum before they can be approved for student teaching.  These all must be completed and the required observation report forms submitted to the Coordinator of Music Education by the first day back from Winter Break of the year prior to their fall student teaching semester.

Qualifications for Observation/Practicum Experience:  Any formal music class, lesson, or rehearsal in a formal educational elementary or secondary institution (i.e., public school, Christian school, parochial school, etc.) taught by a professional music educator qualifies for observation/practicum experience. Observation/practicum experiences are assigned in methods classes in both the Music and Education Departments.  These experiences must be documented for the music education program requirement as well as for the classes.  For example, an observation submitted in fulfillment of a requirement for the Educating Exceptional Learners class (EDUC 235) may also be documented and submitted toward the music education program requirement provided that it meets the qualifications explained above.  Similarly, observation/practicums submitted in fulfillment of a music education methods course such as Elementary School Methods (MED 405A) may also be submitted for this requirement.  Any questionable situations should be approved by the Coordinator of Music Education before they are completed and submitted.

Documentation:  Official documentation forms must be obtained from the Coordinator of Music Education.  They are to be filled out completely and in duplicate; one copy is to be given to the Music Ed. Coordinator to be kept on file, and one copy is to be kept by the student.  Both copies must be signed by the teacher being observed or supervising the practicum experience.  (Completed and signed forms may be photocopied).  It is the student’s responsibility to see to it that his/her file is accurate and up to date.  The student may contact the Coordinator of Music Education to examine his/her file.

Scheduling Observation/Practicum:  Observation/practicum experiences are to be scheduled by the student.  Schedules and telephone numbers for teachers in the Houghton area are available from the Coordinator of Music Education.  The teacher may be contacted directly no less than two days prior to the anticipated observation/practicum.  (Three to five days are recommended).  Students are strongly encouraged to schedule experiences in their hometown areas during Houghton vacations.  If a student intends to be absent from a Houghton College class or large ensemble rehearsal, permission must be obtained from the teacher or director of the class or ensemble before it is scheduled.  Permission to be excused is entirely up to the discretion of the teacher or director.  An observation/practicum experience should not be scheduled such that a student is absent from a rehearsal within two weeks of an ensemble’s performance.  The student is expected to exercise responsible early planning and discernment in the scheduling of these experiences.

Time-frame:  All 100 hours must be documented and on file with the Coordinator of Music Education by the first day back from February/Winter Break of the semester before student teaching.  Failure to complete this requirement by this date may result in the student teaching semester being postponed for one year.  When the Teacher Education Committee meets in February and March to consider approval of students for student teaching, this requirement for music education majors will be considered along with other criteria.  At that time, students will be notified regarding their observation/practicum requirement status.

Unfulfilled Requirement:  If a student lacks the required number of observation/practicum hours by the time the Teacher Education Committee meets, the Committee will defer approval for student teaching until they are notified by the Coordinator of Music Education that the requirement has been met.  Depending upon the number of remaining observation/practicum experiences needed, the student may need to submit a formal Letter of Petition to the Coordinator of Music Education.  It must contain the following information: (a) an explanation as to why the requirement has not yet been met, and (b) what the student intends to do to remedy the situation.  The school of music and the Education Committee will review the decision and make recommendations accordingly.

Back To Top