There is no better preparation for student teachers, then to be in class right from the beginning. I can’t imagine to ‘learn how to teach’, while only sitting in seminars and hearing about stuff. I love to be in class and work with kids, even tough I’m only an assistant-teacher at this point in my education, it’s still fun and an invaluable experience.
There are other teacher education programmes, where the students get to sit in class and observe for a year, then they have a few months of practical training and another year at the university just hearing about teaching, and not experiencing it in person. These students have to teach right after graduating, with very little practical training. I can imagine the first two years at work aren't much fun.
On the other hand, I really appreciate our programme. We get be in class from our second week on. We are in class every week, and if you enjoy it and your practical-teacher is open-minded, you get to help from your first lesson on and it’s a great way to get in touch with this kind of work and interaction for students with no prior experience in teaching or coaching.
It’s great that we get to teach a part of a lesson two months in. The second semester gets even better, we have to prepare and teach entire lessons by ourselves.
This hands-on experience with the addition of observation and reflection tasks, is a complete training which I wouldn't want to miss.
Another good concept is the team-teaching aspect. Usually we are in groups of two to three students. Three student-teachers per class seems to be the perfect number. Especially in the beginning, it can be very helpful to prepare and teach with two other colleagues. On the one hand it’s kind of a safety-net, having two other partners by your side (and the teacher of course), you kind of feel that it’s not bad to screw something up, because it can happen to anyone. But if it happens, there are no hard feelings towards each other, because you know that it’s natural to have jitters the first few times. On the other hand, it’s more comfortable to talk about the teaching experience with fellow student-teachers, than talking with the actual teacher. I also liked preparing the lessons with a partner, because even if one of us does not have an idea, the other one may have a great solution. So with this team-teaching concept there’s always some kind of support you can count on.
So all in all, practical training is not only a great way for teacher education, it is the only way.