CalStateTeach, the credentialing program that I'm in, requires its students to be placed at a school for student teaching. Essentially, a student teacher is the equivalent of an intern in a teacher's classroom. My current supervisor, James, was helping me find a placement, but I was trying to quicken the process by getting in contact with other principals.
When I started my first year with CalStateTeach, I wasn't aware that I was a student teacher. I just saw myself as volunteering. So, when I presented myself to any given principal, I would ask them if any teacher would want a volunteer. It was pretty easy for me to find myself a placement. Go to any given elementary school. I would guess that 100% of the time, someone in there would find a way to make use of a volunteer.
Of course, after I met with the teacher, I would discuss what exactly I was looking for in my experience as a volunteer. For example, I would want to eventually teach at least one lesson a day. And, as the teacher becomes comfortable I would become comfortable taking control of the classroom in other ways.
For this last term, I've been advertising myself as a student teacher, I've found it much more difficult to find placements. I have a lot of elementary schools that are actually rejecting my offer to student teach for one of their teachers. I was a little surprised by that. I have a guess as to why that is. This is a definition of "student teacher" that I just pulled off of Google: "Web definitions:a college student who is teaching under the supervision of a certified teacher in order to qualify for a degree in education." Google pulled it off of wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn.
So, if other elementary schools are operating off of that definition, then that means that a student teacher adds more work for a teacher. And, if a student teacher adds more work for a teacher, then teachers will be less focused on other aspects of the classroom. Whereas, if I'm just seen as a volunteer, they can direct me as needed as opposed to keeping an eye on me like one of his/her students.
This is the bottom line. If you are trying to student teach at an elementary school, you are better off presenting yourself as a "volunteer." It seems that a lot less pressure or burden seems to come with the connotations of a volunteer. After you are accepted by a teacher as a volunteer and as a teacher becomes comfortable with you, you can begin to solidify details that will give you a student teacher-like experience. So then, you have the acceptance rate of a volunteer and the experience of a student teacher.