IB/M Second-Year Clinical Experience (Seniors)
Clinic Placement (Fall Semester)
The purpose of the fall semester clinic placement in the second year is to provide the student with opportunities to focus on teaching in their chosen certification area, to work directly with a teacher who is skilled at teaching in the chosen certification area, to gather instructional ideas and materials, and to practice the development and delivery of instruction under the guidance of a certified teacher and a subject-specific specialist.
In the second year, students are assigned to clinic placements in their chosen area of certification and must spend at least six hours per week in the clinic site. How students meet the six hour requirement varies depending upon their specialization area. Elementary education and special education students spend the equivalent of a full day per week in the schools. Secondary education students, in contrast, ideally follow one class period for the whole week. If tracking a single period across the week is not possible, then some modified version of tracking a class across the weeks of a semester is designed to meet the six hour requirement (e.g., attending two classes on a Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule).
Students in elementary or secondary education may opt to remain in their fall placement for their student teaching semester. The arrangements for a full-year placement must be made with the clinic placement coordinator Catherine Smith, who will work with the clinic teacher to make sure that the placement will work for a full year. Because their certification is K-12, Special Education majors must be assigned to two different placements in their senior year in order to assure experience in both elementary and secondary schools.
Because this clinic experience is the last one before the IB/M students’ student teaching semester, the more teaching experience the students get during this clinic experience the better. The amount of actual instructional time for which the students take responsibility varies greatly and is negotiated between the clinic teacher, the student, the seminar leader, and often the student’s advisor or methods instructor.
Roles and Responsibilities of the Second-Year Clinic Team
The general guidelines for clinic placements appear in a later section of the handbook. Please review them. Unique expectations of each clinic team member that apply to subject and grade-level specific clinic experiences in the second year are listed below.
IB/M students should take full advantage of the subject-specific grade-level clinic placement. This experience is the last opportunity students will have to get teaching experience before going out to meet the challenges of student teaching. Clinic teachers have been carefully chosen because of their knowledge and skill in instruction, classroom management, and content area expertise. Therefore, students who take full advantage of the opportunity can garner ideas and materials for the future.
Both clinic teachers and seminar leaders should be aware of the critical importance of the fall semester’s clinic experience in the overall preparation program. IB/M students are now focusing on teaching in their area of concentration. They expect to obtain a teaching position much like the one in which they are working this semester. Clinic teachers and seminar leaders should focus on careful evaluation of performance as well as preparation, providing specific feedback, and assessing the teacher candidate’s grasp on what to teach, how to teach, and why. In addition, seminar leaders, advisors, and methods instructors will be examining each student’s readiness to meet the demands of student teaching. IB/M students who do not seem ready to student teach are counseled with regard to their future in the program. Thus, the fall placement has a special importance in the preparation of the prospective teacher; it is described as a turning point by many students in the program.
The Student Teaching Experience (Spring Semester)
Student teaching is a continuation of the focus on learning to teach in their certification area, and perhaps, the most challenging experience in the teacher preparation program. The overriding purpose of the student teaching experience is for the student teacher to develop and demonstrate competence as a classroom teacher under the guidance and mentoring of a cooperating teacher, a university supervisor, and a seminar leader. The student teaching assignment lasts approximately 12 weeks, beginning officially during the third week of UConn’s spring semester and ending on the last day of UConn’s spring semester classes.
Specifics regarding the number of classes or subjects student teachers take over, how soon the student teacher takes over responsibility for the teaching of those classes or subjects, and how involved the cooperating teacher is in the planning and direction of the student teachers’ efforts vary greatly. Overall, the goal is for student teachers to experience continuous, sustained, and extensive responsibility for planning and delivering instruction as well as managing all aspects of day-to-day life in the classroom. Rich, varied, extensive experiences that include challenges and support build both resilience and self-efficacy for the student teacher who successfully meets the challenges.
IB/M students who return to student teach in a classroom in which they completed their fall clinic placement are expected to take on more extensive responsibilities earlier than students who are student teaching in a new placement.
Roles and Responsibilities of the Student Teaching Clinic Team
The support team for the Student Teaching semester is comprised of the student teacher, the cooperating teacher, the university supervisor, the student’s faculty advisor, and the EDCI 4150/4250 or EPSY 4115 instructor-of-record. Student teachers may also consult with CLAS faculty with regard to content clarifications and resources.
Because the student teaching experience is full-time, the expectations of each clinic team member are significantly different than for other clinic experiences.
Figure 1. The Teaching-Learning-Support Team Model, which shows that IB/M students are at the center of an extended network of support that includes everyone from instructors, faculty advisors, and clinic supervisors who are part of the Neag School of Education faculty, to clinic teachers who are part of the student’s clinical placement, to course instructors in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
For IB/M Students
Prior to the beginning of the actual student teaching assignment:
- Contact your cooperating teacher as soon as you have been instructed to do so by the clinical placement coordinator. Normally, this contact is made in November or December of the fall semester prior to the student teaching experience.
- Visit the school and cooperating teacher to whom you have been assigned before leaving for semester break. We suggest that you call and set up a specific meeting time before you visit to make sure that your cooperating teacher will be available to spend some time with you. When visiting, be sure to stop by at the school office and introduce yourself as a student teacher. At the introduction meeting, you will get books and other curricular materials you can use to prepare over the semester break.
- Present yourself as a professional. Be enthusiastic, inquisitive, and appropriately dressed.
During the actual student teaching assignment:
- Be enthusiastic and energized in the classroom, showing genuine pleasure in being a teacher.
- Plan teaching assignments in advance with your cooperating teacher, using formal lesson plans each day.
- Act in an ethical manner in all situations, especially with respect to student confidentiality and confidentiality with fellow educators.
- Be aware of and utilize Connecticut’s Common Core of Teaching.
- Confer regularly with your cooperating teacher about your performance to date and what you need to do to improve.
- Leave a small legacy of your talents and efforts with the class, by developing and sharing a particular interest (e.g., places traveled, a hobby or craft, a video, a sport interest or musical talent, story telling, something concerning UConn).
- Become a positive influence in the life of your school by communicating and collaborating with your cooperating teacher, other teachers, administrators, staff, students, parents, and other members of the school community.
- Participate not only in your assigned classroom, but in the school community overall.
The student teaching assignment includes some special attendance requirements listed below. In addition to being routinely punctual and present:
- Abide by your cooperating teacher’s daily schedule, including arrival and departure times. Plan to arrive at school early and plan to stay late. The instructional day—the times that classes are conducted—and the teacher’s day often differ significantly in length. Plan to take work home with you every night and every weekend.
- Observe your assigned school’s calendar and vacation times; student teachers do not take UConn’s spring break.
- You must notify your cooperating teacher of any absences as soon as possible, as well as your university supervisor, your seminar leader, and your building principal. Know and follow your school’s procedures for calling in sick. Set up a notification with your cooperating teacher at the beginning of the student teaching assignment.
- Keep in mind that your student teaching hours are monitored by UConn and a certain number of hours are required by the state of Connecticut. Extensive absences may require an extension of your student teaching placement.
- Have lesson plans available for the cooperating teacher or substitute to follow whenever you are absent.
- Attend all professional development activities, school-wide events, and parent meetings during and after school hours.
In addition to meeting the general expectations for all clinic teachers published in the Guide for Clinic Experiences section in the handbook, cooperating teachers should:
- Provide a specific workplace in their classroom or in an office for the student teacher to work.
- Help their students learn to regard the student teacher as a real teacher with genuine authority.
- Orient the student teacher to the school and classroom. Provide a copy of the school’s staff handbook and any attendance or disciplinary forms the student teacher will need to use.
- ntroduce the student teacher to other members of the school staff and treat the student teacher as a colleague.
- Inform the student teacher of your philosophy of teaching, your curriculum, your planning strategies and classroom management procedures, as well as the unique needs of students in your classes.
- Model teaching and classroom management strategies for the student teacher.
- Review, critique, and approve the student teacher’s plans, including daily lesson plans and longer term unit plans.
- Share your methods of assessment and grading.
- Encourage the student teacher to experiment, reflect upon his or her teaching, and ask questions.
- Participate in a mid-term and final evaluation conference involving the student teacher and the university supervisor.
- Use the Evaluation of Teacher Performance form to evaluate the student teacher at mid-term and at the end of student teaching, communicating clearly and honestly with the student teacher and the university supervisor about the progress of the student teacher. The need to communicate in an honest, yet supportive, manner is especially important when the student teacher is experiencing significant difficulties meeting the demands of the position.
The university supervisor is a qualified professional hired by the university to provide ongoing supervision—observation, feedback, evaluation, and coaching—to the student teacher. University supervisors have a wide range of teaching and supervisory experiences in public schools that complement what the cooperating teacher offers to the student teacher.
In order to facilitate the effective functioning of the clinic team, the university supervisor should:
- Provide guidance to the cooperating teacher and the student teacher regarding expectations for and procedures of the student teaching experience;
- Conduct a minimum of six formal observations of classroom teaching followed by post-observation conferences for each student teacher assigned to them;
- Include cooperating teachers as often as possible and appropriate in post-observation conferences;
- Take notes on the student teacher’s performance and put specific recommendations for improvement in writing, having the student teacher (and cooperating teacher, if appropriate) sign the paper listing recommendations for improvement (the signature simply indicating that the student teacher is aware of what is expected of him or her);
- Encourage student teachers to analyze and judge their own teaching performances in an effort to help them develop into independently analytic and reflective professionals;
- Support student teachers in their attempts to use Connecticut’s Common Core of Teaching;
- Complete a mid-term and final evaluation of the student teacher using the Evaluation of Teacher Performance form, writing specific comments about the student teacher’s performance as appropriate, and having the student teacher and cooperating teacher sign the form indicating that they have seen the form and participated in a three-way evaluation conference;
- Assign the student teacher’s mid-term and final grades, taking into account the perspectives of the cooperating teacher and the student teacher.
The cooperating teacher and the student teacher should meet and confer on a regular basis to discuss the student teacher’s performance and growth. Both formal and informal conferencing are effective, but we recommend that you set aside a time for a formal conference each week. Most conferences will be between the student teacher and the cooperating teacher; some will involve the university supervisor, as well. The student teacher should be an active participant in these sessions.
All members of the clinic team should review the Evaluation of Teacher Performance form and use the items on the evaluation as a basis for feedback and conferences. Any questions or uncertainties about evaluation criteria should be discussed and resolved early on in the teaching experience to ensure clear and effective communication during the evaluation conferences.
Student teachers benefit most when provided with information concerning their progress on a regular and frequent basis.
Grades for Student Teachers
Student teachers should have a formal review of their progress at midterm by the cooperating teacher and the university supervisor, using the Evaluation of Teacher Performance form, two copies of which are given to the student teacher. If the student teacher is judged to be performing below a B level, please notify the Director of Teacher Education and send a copy of the completed midterm evaluation. The university supervisor should participate in the decision to notify the Director of Teacher Education and coordinate the communication with the Director.
Student teachers who are performing below expectations at the mid-term point will participate in the development of an improvement plan with the university supervisor, the cooperating teacher, and a UConn representative, most often, the faculty advisor.
During the last week of student teaching, the university supervisor should lead a formal evaluation meeting involving the clinic teacher and the student teacher. Use the Evaluation of Teacher Performance form to guide this evaluation conference and arrive at an agreed upon grade for the student teacher. The official student teaching grade submitted to the instructor of record should reflect the combined judgment of the cooperating teacher and the university supervisor. All three members of the clinic team should sign the completed form. The form should be submitted to the Instructor of Record for EDCI 4150/4250 or EPSY 4115 so that the grade can be recorded with the university registrar. Once grades have been entered, instructors submit the Evaluation of Teacher Performance forms to the Office of Teacher Education where they are reviewed and placed in student files.
“A” means that the student has performed in a consistently superior manner during the student teaching experience. To an employer, this grade indicates that the student should be an outstanding beginning teacher.
“B” means that the student has performed in a highly satisfactory manner during the student teaching experience. To an employer, this grade indicates that this student should be a good, highly capable teacher with promise for further professional growth.
“C” means that the student has performed in an average manner during the student teaching experience. To an employer, this grade means that the student needs some on-the-job supervision before being able to teach independently in a fully satisfactory manner.
“D” or “F” grade is seldom used in conjunction with student teaching. Such grades preclude being offered a teaching position; furthermore, students doing this poorly should be detected as soon as possible during the student teaching period.
As was noted above, students performing below a “B” level at the midterm must be reported to the Director of Teacher Education and must participate in the development of performance objectives to address specific weaknesses. If a student performing below expectations at mid-term is unable to improve her or his performance and earns a grade of C or lower, the student should give very serious consideration to withdrawing from student teaching. The procedures for doing so are spelled out below. Obviously, students who earn a D or F in student teaching should be counseled out of a teaching career.
Withdrawing from Student Teaching
Students who are having serious difficulty as a student teacher may choose to withdraw from the experience. University supervisors may also recommend such withdrawal to students. A student withdrawing from student teaching may receive credits for Directed Observation and Participation.
Often, a student may have enough total credits (120) and credits in professional education (12) to graduate with a Bachelor’s degree from the Neag School of Education. Of course, the student would still need a minimum cumulative quality point ratio of 2.2. Although the student earning a Bachelor’s degree would be a graduate of the Neag School of Education, he or she would not be eligible for a Connecticut teaching certificate.
Procedures for Withdrawing from Student Teaching
- Students who wish to withdraw from student teaching should meet with their university supervisor. The university supervisor will discuss the problem with the cooperating teacher, the student’s advisor, and the Director of School University Partnerships, Dr. Robin Hands.
- The Petition to Discontinue should be forwarded to the Executive Director of Teacher Education for review.
- Arrangements for adding and dropping courses will be completed by Director of Advising, Ann Traynor.
Credit can be assigned commensurate with the time spent in the student teaching experience. When this action is taken, the student becomes ineligible for certification but retains the possibility of satisfying graduation requirements.
In the fall semester, second year students take the EGEN 4100 Methods of Teaching seminar. The seminar, designed to integrate with the methods courses and the assessment course, helps students to reflect on their clinic experiences through a lens of approaches to teaching. The 4100 seminars are taught by methods faculty who have a wealth of knowledge on principles and philosophies of teaching a specific subject area as well as their practical applications. Seminar sections are organized around certification area, so, for example, all secondary English majors participate in the same EGEN 4100. Certification-specific groupings allow students to reflect on and analyze each other’s work in the content area and to share specific strategies and challenges associated with teaching their specific subject and grade level.
The seminars help students work on curriculum, instructional strategies, unit and lesson planning, assessment strategies, differentiation of instruction for different learners, and many day-to-day issues of classroom and instructional management. Students work with their seminar leaders to continue to develop a reflective stance and practices that will support their growth as professional educators. Activities are specifically geared toward helping students construct and develop the knowledge, skills, and dispositions they will require for a successful student teaching experience.
While specific clinic assignments for students will vary depending upon their seminar leader, some assignments that students have been expected to complete at this phase of the program in the context of their clinic placement include the following:
- Design and implement a lesson on a topic that is negotiated with the clinic teacher. Also, develop an assessment tool for discerning how well students learned or mastered the objectives of the lesson.
- Collect samples of assessment tools used in the school. Discuss the tools in terms of what they do and do not assess and what they revealed about student learning when employed.
- Videotape yourself teaching a lesson to a small group or the entire class. Review and reflect on the video and submit a detailed analysis of your teaching and your areas for improvement.
- Develop a unit of instruction plan, including rationale for implementation, a calendar of activities, daily lesson plans, handouts, overheads, assignment sheets, assessment tools, and other materials for each day of the unit, and an assessment plan.
Students continue to gather and create materials for their teaching portfolios in the EGEN 4100 seminar. Teachers in the clinic setting can be helpful in providing instructional materials to add to the portfolio—just ask!