Classroom Experiences

North Park’s education programs get you into real classrooms early in your own learning process and ease your transition from observer to student teacher. Here’s the progression:

  1. Targeted observations as part of the methods course
  2. Teacher Aiding: observe and assist teacher/students (50+ hours)
  3. Mini-Teaching: prepare and teach one lesson per day (7 weeks)
  4. Student Teaching: full-time teaching (10–16 weeks)

You’ll work with your advisor and instructors to choose different schools for each of these experiences, covering public, private, suburban, and urban schools.

Classroom Experience: Teacher Aiding

The first of three clinical experiences for North Park’s teachers-in-training, teacher aiding is an important entry into the profession and classroom. You’ll spend 50 hours in a school, observing classes, tutoring students, and working with a cooperating teacher as you see first-hand how a classroom works. You may also have the option to deliver a lesson or two. To see the full spectrum of school life, you’ll spend 10 of your 50 hours in a special education classroom.


North Park’s unique “mini-teaching” component is an essential in-between step that most education programs lack. Instead of going directly from teacher aiding to full-time student teaching, you’ll spend seven weeks teaching one lesson a day in a single subject (e.g., math, reading, science, etc.) to a class in one of our 125 partner schools. Instead of preparing an entire day of lessons, you can concentrate on developing, teaching, and revising one excellent lesson plan.

Student Teaching

Your clinical experience culminates in student teaching. For 10 to 16 weeks (depending on your desired certification), you’ll assume full responsibility for a classroom: teaching a full load, attending meetings, taking attendance, keeping records, grading, and meeting with parents. You’ll work with a cooperating teacher in your subject area who is passionate about helping you succeed, and you’ll also be observed throughout the experience by North Park University faculty who will offer helpful feedback and constructive advice.

Capstone Course

Each education program concludes with a capstone course in which graduating students can share case studies from their clinical experiences and explore the many things that influence teaching in classrooms. Discussions might cover pedagogy and content knowledge, communication styles, or body language and attitudes. In this course, you’ll also develop your own philosophy of teaching and assemble your professional portfolio and prepare for teacher licensure. Through all of these experiences, your advisor and professors will walk alongside you as you prepare for a career as an educator.