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LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN, Ga. - Covenant College senior Danica Wolfe, 22, already considers herself an educator, but 20 years ago student-teachers were thought to be more student than teacher.

"Your senior year they are very strongly emphasizing that you are not a student anymore," Ms. Wolfe said of her professors. "You are a preprofessional teacher."

Fairyland Elementary kindergarten teacher Elizabeth Millirons, 43, has two decades of education experience and said teacher training is one area that needed to evolve.

"You would sit and observe forever," she said of her student-teaching experience. "They wouldn't let you be very hands-on. You were definitely not part of the planning. They didn't ask you for a lot of feedback."

She is amazed by today's proactive and confident student-teachers.

Fairyland principal Dr. Terry Stevenson said today's student-teachers may feel more comfortable being in the classroom because there's now a push to get education majors into in the classroom earlier.

"It is possible to go through a teacher educator program and actually come to the field work and decide, 'This isn't for me,'" Dr. Stevenson said.

When Dr. Stevenson was student-teaching, there was a two-week period when she was left alone with the class.

"Now there is more of a cooperative spirit," she said. "No Child Left Behind has changed that. Schools are less willing to turn over a classroom to a practicing teacher knowing that tests are coming up. We do try to leave them alone some."

Georgia's new performance standards also have spurred change, educators said. Ms. Wolfe said there has been an inaccurate perception in recent years that teaching is easy - something to major in for people who don't know what they want to do.

But the state's new requirements are ramping up the accountability for both teachers and students.

"Standards for teachers are being raised," Ms. Wolfe said.

Another major change in training educators is technology. Ms. Wolfe said she was trained to use Smart Boards, which are like computerized, interactive whiteboards. She mused that the teachers she had in elementary school likely never imagined such a tool.

Some things never change, though, teachers said. Most still get into the profession because they love children and love learning.

Despite generation gaps, Ms. Wolfe said she learns from veteran teachers.

They said they learn from her, too.

"I'm so grateful for this experience - to have older teachers who have years of experience teaching me how they teach," Ms. Wolfe said.

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