Neag School Teacher Education FAQs

Compiled in collaboration with Michele Femc-Bagwell, Robin Hands, Jason Irizarry, George Michna, Ann Traynor, and John Zack

These FAQs were created to provide students and faculty with updated facts and to keep you informed of current issues of importance. Answers to questions listed below are organized by the Integrated Bachelor’s/Master’s (IB/M) program and/or Teacher Certification Program for College Graduates (TCPCG), as applicable.

Please direct all teacher education-related questions to Michele Femc-Bagwell, Director of Teacher Education Programs.

Clinic/Student Teaching/Intern Hours

Q: When is the official end of our clinic/student teaching and/or intern placements?

IB/M: If possible, all IB/M students should continue current placements until Friday, April 10. At that time, if you choose to continue until May 1, and it is an option provided to you by your cooperating teacher, we would encourage you to do so. Though to meet our program requirements, you do not have to extend your placements beyond April 10.

TCPCG: The state is temporarily waiving the length and duration of student teaching, clinical internships, and/or fieldwork in public schools. This means that moving forward, the 10 hr./week internship requirement is waived. General Education students will still receive credit for their Practicum. However, if you can continue with your inquiry in any capacity, you should do so. You should work with your EDCI 5830 Curriculum Laboratory Instructors to determine appropriate avenues for continuing your inquiry where possible. They will also let you know new expectations for your manuscripts for this class.

Q: Do we have to continue our coursework beyond April 10?

IB/M: Yes. All IB/M students will still be required to complete EGEN and EDCI coursework through the end of the semester, although course requirements will be modified based on these extenuating circumstances.

Q: If you can’t complete E-Learning by April 10 due to a district’s policy, will you need to student teach again in your master’s year?

IB/M: Teacher candidates whose midterm evaluations indicated that they have been progressing as they should, will not be required to teach during their fifth year if they have not completed e-learning opportunities due to district policies. Although online learning experiences are beneficial, some students may feel the need for more in-person classroom teaching experiences, given this will be the teaching and learning platform representative of their future teaching days.

If teacher candidates communicate an interest in obtaining more teaching opportunities next year, we will negotiate with our partner schools to embed this into internship experiences. Most candidates will not be student teaching again; instead, they will continue to master their teaching skills in their internship placements.

Q: Are all educator preparation programs across Connecticut waiving the same length of placement requirements?

IB/M: No. Individual educator preparation programs each have an obligation to interpret these guidelines to ensure the most optimal outcome for their preservice teachers.

 

Observations and Evaluations

Q: Will juniors still be receiving clinical evaluations and what will be the impact if they have not been able to participate in the e-learning process in the district in which they were placed?

IB/M: Juniors will be receiving a clinical evaluation, but in cases where they have not been able to participate in the e-learning process, they will NOT be penalized. Seminar leaders are the evaluator of record, because grades for clinical experiences are factored into final seminar grades. It will be up to the discretion of the seminar leaders to decide whether or not each student did the best they could in their clinical setting, given these unprecedented circumstances. The required hours on the evaluation have been waived.

Q: Are students supposed to continue using the Professional Practices Observation Tool?

IB/M: You will continue with the Professional Practices Observation Tool only if you are able to; otherwise, we are asking that you save it and you can pick up where you left off during your internship next year. You will be required to upload the document into TaskStream at the end of the 2020 fall semester, so please do not delete it! We must have this information to substantiate your certification and to meet our program accreditation requirements.

Q: Will there be a final meeting for seniors with their Cooperating Teacher and University Supervisor, and if so, how will this take place?

IB/M: Yes, you will be expected to have a final meeting with your Cooperating Teacher and University Supervisor anytime between April 20 – May 1. You will need to “host” the final three-way meeting in a WebEx context in order to complete your final student teaching evaluation, which you will need in order to apply for state licensure.

The link to the WebEx account is its.uconn.edu/webex. You will need to log in with your UConn ID, title it “Three-Way Meeting,” then create a date and time, and add in the email addresses for your University Supervisor and Cooperating Teacher. When you press the submit button, anyone whose email has been entered will automatically be invited, and you will receive their responses in an email.

TCPCG: A modified evaluation form will be sent to your Internship Supervisor concerning your Internship/Inquiry Project. Please inform your Internship Supervisor that this shortened/modified evaluation will be arriving sometime toward the end of April and should only take them a few minutes to fill out.

 

Teaching Online

Q: What if a placement district does not want you to participate in online learning and teaching?

IB/M: It has been confirmed that all of our partner districts have moved to some form of e-learning; however, not all can offer you the option to participate and contribute to this process. Some of our partners are using a prescribed curriculum that only allows the employed teacher to facilitate. If you are in a district that prohibits you from participating in online teaching you will need to respect the district’s policy and work with your University Supervisor to discuss ways to support your continued professional growth and development.

Q: What are some ways that you can contribute to online learning?

IB/M: Some ways for teacher candidates and interns to contribute to the e-learning process in your current placement might include offering to tutor students, read books aloud to students, help your clinic teacher create materials/lessons/units of study for online use, design parent resource guides, etc. Follow your cooperating teacher and/or internship supervisor’s lead with regard to what is needed. Seminar leaders will also provide you with periodic research and resources that will support your online work.  

 

edTPA

Q: Do students have to complete edTPA?

IB/M: The CSDE recognizes that student-teaching experiences have been significantly impacted by the recent COVID-19 school-related closures. To assist students during this time, CSDE has provided flexibility around edTPA requirements through two options: (a) spring 2020 student teacher candidates may submit a completed edTPA portfolio that will be scored, but the cut score requirement will be waived, and (b) a student teacher candidate who is unable to submit a completed edTPA portfolio as a result of COVID-19 related circumstances will be able to submit an edTPA Waiver Request at s.uconn.edu/edtpawaiver.

TCPCG: Since TCPCG candidates completed their student teaching in the fall of 2019, they need to submit an edTPA portfolio. Any TCPCG fall 2019 student teacher who did not receive a passing cut score and is unable to retake the edTPA (film a new learning segment) due to school closures may submit a waiver for edTPA and will qualify for initial certification.

If you believe you could earn a passing score by submitting a new Task 1 or new Task 2/Task 3 materials from the original learning segment, you might/should consider going down this route. While you will be initially certified with a score below the official cut score, you may want a passing score as schools may still be considering edTPA scores in their hiring process.

We are creating a link for this year’s graduates to request a waiver. That request will go to John Zack and once approved it will go to the Associate Dean for final approval. The CSDE will grant waivers to all candidates the Educator Preparation Program has identified as meeting the requirements.

Q: What are the potential implications if students waive edTPA?

IB/M: The Neag School of Education cannot, at this time, guarantee non-Connecticut state education agencies will support a candidate’s decision not to complete edTPA for state licensure.

Q: If you decide to take the edTPA waiver during the spring semester 2020, will you have to submit it during the master’s year?

IB/M: No. If you decide to waive the edTPA requirement you will not have to complete it in your master’s year. However, if you are planning to teach in another state (e.g., New York, New Jersey, etc.) you may want to check their policies related to edTPA before making your decision, as edTPA requirements may vary from state to state.

Q: What if students decide to complete edTPA and not seek a waiver?

IB/M: If you elect to complete edTPA, you will have 18 months to submit edTPA portfolios from their registration dates for both initial submissions and retakes. As necessary, Pearson will extend registrations for students impacted by COVID-19 without any change fee, provide an extension for those unable to complete within the 18-month window, and offer additional submission dates beyond those currently published online.

Q: What are the benefits of completing edTPA?

IB/M: Completing edTPA could be beneficial for students during the TEAM program as the rubric scores can help identify areas of professional growth in their first year of teaching. Also, if you will be seeking employment in another state that requires edTPA, you may want to consider completing it. Connecticut made an early decision to temporarily waive the requirement, but we do not yet know which states will be following suit.

Q: To waive or not to waive?

IB/M: We encourage you to speak with your advisors regarding your decisions to submit or waive edTPA and its potential implications for you. We trust that you will make the best decisions for yourself regarding all of the options you are being given.

 

Praxis and Foundations of Reading

Q: What happens if I can’t complete the required certification tests that I need because testing centers are closed and passing test results are necessary to apply for Connecticut certification?

IB/M and TCPCG: As you know, the State of Connecticut requires Educator Preparation Program students to complete all required certification tests in order to be recommended for certification. However, students who have not completed required certification tests (Praxis II, Foundations of Reading, ACTFL), are now eligible for a Three-Year Nonrenewable Interim Certificate as a way to receive a temporary certification (see attached Memo from the CSDE), if they have completed all other program requirements.

So, if you have not completed your required certification tests and you apply for Connecticut certification, you will be issued the Three-Year Nonrenewable Interim Certificate. This teaching license is for three years and gives you time to complete any outstanding testing requirements. Once you pass your remaining tests, we can sign off on your Initial licensure paperwork (in Connecticut or any other state). As soon as Pearson and ETS re-open their testing centers, you can complete those tests.

We will communicate the certification process steps for ALL students once we receive additional guidance from the CSDE on how it will work this semester.

 

Pass/Fail Policy

Q: The University has implemented a policy that would expand undergraduate students’ ability to invoke the Pass/Fail option for spring 2020 courses. What are the Neag School’s Pass/Fail policies for undergraduate major courses?

Current and Prospective IB/M Majors:

  • All undergraduate education and subject area courses will be permitted to be taken on Pass/Fail during spring 2020.
  • Passed spring 2020 courses will count toward IB/M major requirements and prerequisites and will count for Connecticut certification requirements.
  • Students should consult with their advisor prior to making any decisions about which course to take on a Pass/Fail basis.

Please note: While the Neag School of Education is permitting the Pass/Fail option in Spring 2020, not all departments in other Schools and Colleges at UConn are doing so. Therefore, for students in the Neag School who are pursuing dual majors, please keep in mind that a course taken through another School/College at UConn may not count toward both of your majors if taken pass/fail.

TCPCG: The pass/fail option does not apply to graduate courses.

 

Wellness

Q: What resources does the Neag School provide for students’ self-care and wellness during these unprecedented times?

IB/M and TCPCG: In January 2020 we started offering ‘Just Breathe Teacher Wellness Workshops’ as a way to address the health and wellness of our pre-service teachers. As part of that workshop series, we are continuing to offer online weekly yoga workshops with a certified yoga instructor. Workshops will happen every Wednesday at 5:45 p.m. EST for the remainder of the semester. Weekly emails will be sent to all students reminding them of the date/time.

Additionally, the University also has professional resources available to you at counseling.uconn.edu. Please see the information below, “Managing Mental Healthy during the Pandemic.”

 

 

University Resources:
Division of Student Health and Wellness-Mental Health

Managing Mental Health During the Pandemic

As each day brings new updates, possibly with worrying or confusing information about COVID-19 (coronavirus), we each respond to this stress in our own ways. Everyone is different—our various thoughts, emotions and reactions are normal in the face of such widespread uncertainty.

Common Mental Health-Related Reactions:

  • Anxiety, worry, or panic
  • Feeling overwhelmed or helpless
  • Social withdrawal beyond practicing safe social distancing
  • Sadness and loneliness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Increased boredom and loss of interest in daily life activities
  • Frustration, anger, or irritability
  • Increased sensitivity to physical sensations
  • Hypervigilance to health for ourselves and others

When local and global concerns arise to current levels, increased anxiety and other mental health struggles are common. As school, work, and family life changes, worries can even threaten to take over our lives. However, there are many practical and helpful ways that you can manage stress in these uncertain times. The good news is that adopting these self-care practices will not only help you now, but they will also continue to boost your mood and health long after this pandemic has passed.

Stay (selectively) Informed: Your best practice will be to seek information directly from the CDC or WHO websites regarding broader trends and to follow UConn-specific updates. This will help reduce the confusion of conflicting updates or misinformation.

Stay Connected: As you continue to practice social distancing or are under self-quarantine or isolation, remember to stay connected to supportive friends and family. Take advantage of technology to have video hangouts and points of connection. Utilize online social networks, but be wary of getting too absorbed in the news or widespread worry that can infiltrate those spaces.

Stay Grounded: Remember to take a break from consuming COVID-19 information and to focus on the things that make life worth living. See if you can shift your attention to the positive things in your life that you have some control over.

Stay Mindful of your Assumptions: Someone who coughs, sneezes, or even has a fever does not necessarily have coronavirus. Catching these automatic thoughts helps us not to stigmatize or discriminate against others in our community.

Stay Healthy: Continue to follow healthy hygienic habits such as:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with greater than 60% ethanol or 70% isopropanol
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Self-isolate when you are sick
  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow, not into your hands
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces

Experiment with different self-care practices such as:

  • Maintaining exercise (while staying safe)
  • Trying out mobile apps such as Headspace or Sanvello to build a stress reducing mindfulness habit
  • Taking time to stretch or practice yoga to keep anxiety induced muscle tension at bay
  • Going for a walk (when safe)
  • Starting a gratitude journal
  • Giving yourself an 8-hour “sleep opportunity” every night
  • Keep a healthy diet

Seek Additional Support: Individuals who are experiencing overwhelming anxiety or other mental health challenges resulting from this pandemic and its effects can seek additional professional mental health support. If you are a UConn student enrolled at the Storrs Campus, you may contact SHaW—Mental Health by phone at 860-486-4705.

Life-Threatening Emergency – Call 911

If you are experiencing a serious and immediate life-threatening crisis, please bypass calling SHaW and call 911 or the UConn Police Department immediately. Although most people associate 911 with medical emergencies, they also support people with mental health emergencies, such as thoughts of suicide.

I Need to Talk to Someone Now

SHaW–Mental Health offers free and confidential 24/7 support for mental health crises. Crisis support is available all day, every day, and is accessible by calling 860-486-4705. If you choose to call our office (during or after business hours) for crisis-support, please tell the receptionist that you are experiencing a crisis and wish to speak to the on-call therapist. Students will be connected with the on-call therapist as soon as possible.

 

References
https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)30460-8/fulltext
https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/9-self-care-strategies-to-reduce-stress-1029144
https://uhs.berkeley.edu/sites/default/files/fearsanxiety-coronavirus.pdf