Student Teaching School Based Educators
The classroom teacher supervising the student teacher should:
- Meet with the candidate and the college supervisor at the beginning of the student teaching placement to discuss expectations, review the evaluation process, and design a meaningful and comprehensive experience.
- Design the experience to support achievement of the learning outcomes as outlined on the Student Teaching Evaluation Form.
- Work with the candidate to create a daily and long-term schedule and a list of expectations.
- Provide the time and opportunity for the candidate to complete tasks assigned by the college professor.
- Establish a supportive environment for the candidate.
- Help the candidate become acquainted with the district, school, and classroom rules and introduce the candidate to the administrators, staff, teachers, parents, and students.
- Observe the candidate regularly, giving immediate and specific feedback, both written and verbal. Offer constructive suggestions for improvement and growth, and model the desired behavior.
- Recognize that the candidate is a novice; and allow for the candidate to experiment and discover his or her own strengths and areas for future growth. At an appropriate point during the experience, provide the candidate with the responsibility for full-time planning and teaching assessment for a minimum of one week.
- Meet with the candidate and the college supervisor at the midpoint of the placement to discuss the candidate's progress and performance.
- If the candidate is not making satisfactory progress, meet with the candidate and the college supervisor to develop a professional improvement plan.
- Complete the mid and final evaluation form on the candidate in consultation with the college supervisor. The form must be completed collaboratively and promptly to ensure that the candidate receives a fair and comprehensive evaluation and grade assignment for the placement.
- Alert the college supervisor immediately should any difficulties develop.
- Alert the Director of Field Experiences and Student Teaching should any difficulties develop with the college supervisor.
Designing the Student Teaching Experience
The candidate, the college supervisor and the SBE should meet prior to the placement to design the student teaching experience using the Student Teaching Handbook and the evaluation form. During this first meeting, they should create a long-range plan for the student teaching experience. This plan should be reviewed periodically for necessary modifications.
Assuming Teaching Responsibilities
St. John Fisher College candidates spend over 100 hours in classroom observation prior to student teaching. While these short-term experiences are clearly beneficial, the student teaching experience is often the first time candidates are in a classroom full time for an extended period. The responsibilities of planning and teaching lessons can seem overwhelming. Introducing the realities of classroom practice at a pace that will not overwhelm the candidate is important. It is suggested that the student teaching experience progress in four phases:
Teaching Experience Progress
Orientation/acclimation to the school/classroom environment:
Gradual assumption of teaching responsibility by the candidate:
Intensive teaching responsibility:
SBE gradually resumes total teaching responsibility:
During Phase III, it is not assumed that the candidate will be left alone to "solo" in the traditional sense. The SBE and the candidate make this decision together, based on the needs of the students in the classroom. For example, if the candidate and SBE are team teaching during Phases I and II, it may make sense to continue with this format during Phases III and IV. Candidates should, however, be responsible for all the planning during Phase III.
The SBE should share information and support the candidate regarding adherence to school routines and classroom procedures. Routines are an important component of the classroom climate. This is particularly critical during the candidate's second placement, where such routines have already been in place for a while.
The SBE should also share effective classroom management strategies. Behavior management is often a chief concern for candidates. Some candidates attempt to manage behavior by becoming friends with the students. This strategy invariably backfires. At the other end of the spectrum is the candidate who attempts to assert authority by being dictatorial. Students view this type of teacher as unfair or uncaring and usually respond negatively. The SBE can help the candidate find a balance between these experiences by sharing his or her own effective classroom management strategies that emphasize consistency, fairness, and kindness.
Viewing the Candidate as a Professional
Although the candidate is a novice in the classroom, the SBE should view the candidate as a professional from the start, and then the students in the classroom will accept the candidate as a "real" teacher. If the SBE then shares with the candidate the authority to make decisions within the classroom, the students see the candidate as an independent professional. This approach can help alleviate the common situations of students ignoring the candidate and responding only to the SBE, whom they view as the "rea" teacher.
Introducing the Candidate to the School Community
The candidate needs to feel comfortable in the professional community of the school. The SBE can use the checklist below as a guide to working with the candidate.
- Introductions to other faculty/staff members
- Parent nights, open houses and faculty, department, and committee meetings, etc.
- Duties (bus, hallway supervision, lunch supervision, etc.)
- Computer accounts, lunch accounts, and parking pass information
- Map and/or tour of the building to show where students or candidates need to go (i.e. office, copy room, lavatory, library, gym, lunchroom, etc.)
School Policies and Procedures
- Student Handbook (discipline and attendance policies, writing passes, etc.)
- Teacher Handbook (classroom policies regarding discipline, attendance, grading, passes, emergency procedures, fire drills, school nurse procedures, universal precautions, etc.)
- District guidelines for confidential information (student records, parent conferences, Committee, Special Education (CSE) meetings)
Classroom Policies and Procedures
- Class list, seating chart, daily schedule, etc.
- Classroom rules and management plan (discipline referral procedures)
- Recording absent and tardy students
- Writing hall passes
- Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) and 504 plans and their impact on classroom instruction
- Emergency and fire drill procedures
- Media center, computer labs, and technology coordinators
- Computer use expectations
- District and school Web sites
- State standards for the course or grade level
- Appropriate instructional materials (text books, workbooks, and supplemental materials)
- Lesson plan expectations (be sure the candidate knows the contextual knowledge before lessons are taught)
- Accepted formats for daily, weekly, and long-range planning used in the building and district
- Community resources to enhance instruction
Community and Student Needs
- General socioeconomic and cultural background of student population
- After-school student activities and opportunities for candidate involvement
- Parent involvement in the school (expectations to communicate and work with parents)
- Allergies or specific health/participation restrictions of any students
- Responsibilities to special needs students in class
- Student reading levels and available support
Adapted from Indiana University, Purdue University, Fort Wayne "Student Teaching Handbook" revised 7/05
Being Aware of Emotions
The SBE should recognize that student teaching could be a period of great stress, with frequent swings of emotion.
Candidates are often anxious about beginning the student teaching experience. The challenges that face them can seem overwhelming. Feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt may influence their perception of the coming experience. An effective SBE is aware of these emotions and takes steps to alleviate anxiety.
It is important for candidates to receive and implement feedback. Every professional's performance is evaluated in some way. It is imperative that a candidate be provided the opportunity to receive this type of feedback from the start. More importantly, feedback lays the groundwork for the improvement of teaching skills. An SBE who can provide specific feedback helps a candidate reach his/her full potential.
Recognize the need to give constructive feedback to the candidate. Many individuals view feedback only in negative terms, as criticism rather than a means for improvement. Candidates are no exception. If a positive relationship has been established between the SBE and the candidate, then performance feedback will more likely be viewed as constructive. SBEs must provide feedback that is focused and constructive rather than critical of the candidate as a person.
Base feedback on observation. An SBE's feedback should be based on direct observation of the student teacher. The observation and feedback needed varies greatly among candidates. SBEs and candidates benefit from frequent observations at the beginning of the experience. As the candidate becomes more accustomed to the demands of the grade level, and the SBE feels more confident in the candidate's ability, the number of observations can gradually be reduced.
Give honest appraisal of teaching performance. Many SBEs are hesitant to give feedback or to say anything critical early in the assignment, fearing that the candidate will be discouraged. However, early feedback is important to correct habits or teaching behaviors that can lead to failure. This is equally true throughout the student teaching experience. The SBE must be honest with the candidate and not hesitate to give a true appraisal of the performance, even if it is negative. Candidates are novice teachers who need guidance from experienced teachers. The SBE should be diplomatic, balancing negative feedback with positive feedback. It is also important for the SBE to tell the candidate whatever he or she is doing well, to give praise when it is due, and to commend innovation and creativity.
Target areas for growth that are closely associated with areas of strength. As candidates work to refine their skills, SBEs should identify one or two areas, based on the learning outcomes outlined in the student teaching evaluation, to fine-tune. Skills closely associated with the candidate's areas of strength should be targeted first. As each new skill is acquired, the candidate should begin work on another.
Provide a variety of feedback. Feedback should not be limited to specific times or ways. It is important to be familiar with the evaluation form to address all areas. Formative feedback - brief comments throughout the day - is valuable. Share feedback privately with the candidate.
SBEs should formally observe a candidate at least two times during the experience. After the lesson, the SBE should verbally review the lesson with the candidate, expanding on written comments. The SBE should provide a copy of the evaluation to the candidate.
In addition to frequent feedback and formal observations, an effective policy is to meet briefly each day, preferably at the end of the day, and review the day’s events with the candidate. This time might be used for joint planning, feedback, and to discuss other issues of mutual benefit. Provide both written and verbal feedback.