A year-long teaching internship is the foundation piece for the Master of Arts in Teaching program. This field experience is encompassed through these courses:

  • MAT 741S Internship and Reflective Practice (5 units)
  • MAT 742S Internship and Content Methodology (5 units)

Interns spend at least 15 hours per week at their host high school, becoming an integral part of at least two courses. The internship begins on a required teacher workday in August and continues through March. Interns follow Durham Public Schools’ calendar and the daily schedule for their specific high school. You generally work at the school from 7:00 a.m. until 12:00 noon beginning on the first required day for high school students. Durham Public Schools’ second semester begins in January, at which time you will change schools and begin working with a new mentor teacher.

Your schedules during teacher workdays are at the discretion of their mentors. Each intern is granted three discretionary days per semester. These days may be used for job interviews, personal business, or research at Duke. However, approval from the MAT Office and the mentor teacher must be obtained before discretionary days are used.

Professional Expectations

MAT interns are bound by all of the rules and expectations for full-time faculty at their host high schools. Durham Public Schools Board Policies for personnel can be found on the DPS website. It is imperative that interns develop a professional image in order to establish the appropriate rapport with students. Dress, speech, attitude, and demeanor all contribute to the image and reality of the competent teacher.

Your Mentor/Supervisor

The mentor teacher, who is an instructor within the Graduate School, supervises the internship. The mentor is the primary methodology instructor and the coach who helps the intern turn educational theory into practice.  Each mentor is selected on the basis of their skill as a teacher and skill as a mentor; all have been specifically trained in mentoring novice teachers. All mentors hold a master's degree or National Board Certification, or both. Mentors are responsible for the grade students receive in the internship, and they must recommend MAT candidates for both the MAT degree and for licensure.

Typical Internship Progression

The first days of the internship, before school begins, provide you with valuable opportunities to become acquainted with the school community. During those days you will help your mentor set up the classroom and familiarize yourself with the facility, faculty, administration and rules of the host school. 

Some suggested activities include: 

  • Meet the principal, assistant principals and school secretary
  • Meet the departmental chair and faculty members
  • Meet the resource, specialty teachers and counselors
  • Attend faculty meetings
  • Explore the media center and become acquainted with reference materials for the department
  • Explore the available computer and software systems and their instructional uses in the department
  • Locate the faculty lounge, faculty parking and work areas
  • Learn the grading system for the school and the reporting system for the district
  • Become familiar with school and classroom policies concerning discipline
  • Review the host school's faculty handbook and student handbook

After classes begin, your first days in the classroom are spent in observation and in assisting your mentor. The next step moves you into team teaching alongside the mentor teacher. The decision as to when you are ready to take over a class is highly individualized and best determined between the mentor and you. General guidelines are as follows:

  • Week 1 – Observe, assist teacher, help with homework; get to know each student, learn all students’ names.
  • Weeks 2-3 – Teach warm-up, share planning, give short lecture; present PowerPoint, video clips and visuals; team teach lessons; attend Professional Learning Community (PLC) and department meetings.
  • Weeks 4-6 – Teach one 10-15 day coherent unit of instruction to at least one class; begin making parent calls and/or participating in parent/teacher conferences.
  • Weeks 7-18 – Expanding teaching to two sections of the same course or to one class each of two different courses; conduct formative and summative student assessments; continue shared planning with mentor; steadily increase parent contacts (phone calls, emails, conferences); increase involvement in PLCs and content area departments; manage student behavior more effectively.

Ideally, you become an integral part of the classroom from the first day of school and assumes shared responsibility with the mentor. However, the mentor is always the teacher of record and always retains legal and instructional responsibility for the class. The mentor's first responsibility must always be to the students in the class.

It is absolutely imperative that you and your mentor set aside time each day for consultation. This time should occur when neither you nor your mentor have outside responsibilities. The mentor needs to have the opportunity to provide continuing feedback, and both of you must be able to plan jointly. When daily meetings are not feasible (for example, the mentor has 4th period planning and you must attend Duke courses on campus at that time), telephone calls and e-mail contact may replace face-to-face meetings. However, you and your mentor must schedule regular face-to-face planning time at least once a week.

As a very broad rule, during the first semester of the internship, you should become familiar and comfortable with the expectations and role of a teacher. During second semester you should be continuously refining your skill in that role. You will gain the experience to:

  • Establish learning objectives for students
  • Become adept at a variety of teaching techniques
  • Develop and implement effective classroom management strategies
  • Develop lesson and unit plans
  • Develop, implement, and assess a variety of different projects such as writing assignments, research projects, cooperative learning projects, laboratory experiences, etc.
  • Develop, use, interpret, and evaluate a variety of effective student assessment methods and instruments, both formative and summative
  • Budget time between personal and professional demands
  • Develop the attitude and demeanor of a scholar as teacher