Field Experiences and Guide to Student Teaching

Michael Donhost, Ed.D.
Teacher Education Field Experiences Director

179C Whitman Hall
Phone: 906.227.1881
E-mail: mdonhost@nmu.edu 

Tracy VanAbel
Secretary

179 Whitman Hall
Phone: 906.227.2160
E-mail: tvanabel@nmu.edu

Guide to Student Teaching (PDF): A Handbook for Student Teachers, Cooperating Teachers, and University Supervisors.

Table of Contents:

Introduction
Teacher Education Conceptual Frameworks

PART I: FIELD EXPERIENCES

Questions about Teacher Education Field Experiences
Courses Requiring Field Experience

Phase I Field Experiences
ED 201/301: Introduction to Education/Dimensions of American Education
ED 230/231: Teaching and Learning in the Elementary Classroom/Teaching and Learning in the Secondary Classroom
ED 360: Orientation to Special Education
ED 401: Curriculum and Methods for Teaching the Mentally Impaired
ED 402: Teaching Life Skills to Impaired Individuals

Phase II Field Experiences
Introduction

Elementary Program
ED 306: Children's Literature
ED 311/316: Language Arts Methods & Materials/Elementary Reading Instruction I
ED 312: Science Methods & Materials for Elementary Teachers
ED 318: Elementary Reading Instruction II
ED 361: Special Education and the General Classroom Teacher
MA 353: Elementary Mathematics Methods

Secondary Program
ED 319/349: Teaching of Reading for Secondary Teachers/Teaching for Diversity, Equity and Social Justice in the Secondary School Community
ED 350: Specialized Secondary Methods

Special Education Program
ED 403: Transition Students with Disability
ED 406: Supervised Apprenticeship in Teaching Students with Cognitive Impairment in K-12 Settings
ED 408: Instruction and Educational Structuring for Students with Emotional Impairment
ED 409: Supervised Apprenticeship with Students with Emotional Impairment

PART II: STUDENT TEACHING

Philosophy of Teaching Program
Goals of the Student Teaching Program
Application for Student Teaching
Student Teaching Policies
Responsibilities of the Supervising Teacher
Responsibilities of the Student Teacher
Responsibilities of the Principal
Responsibilities of the School Coordinator
Responsibilities of the University Supervisor
Responsibilities of the Director
Suggestions for Student Teacher Orientation
Requirements for Certification

Appendix A: Field Experience Student Agreement (Word Document)
Appendix B: Map of Local Field Experience Sites
Appendix C: Student Teaching Statement of Understanding (Word Document)
Appendix D: Student Teaching Evaluation Form: First Progress Report
Appendix E: Student Teaching Evaluation Form: Mid-Term Evaluation
Appendix F: Student Teaching Evaluation Form: Final Evaluation
Appendix G: University Supervisor's Report
Appendix H: Criteria for a Assessment of Pedagogy
Appendix I: Student Teacher: Guide to a Successful Student Teaching (PDF Format)

 


 

Introduction

Northern Michigan University is a regional university that serves the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. It has maintained a positive working relationship with schools in the area since it’s founding in 1899 as Northern State Normal School. It continues to work closely with schools to advance the goals of the profession and to promote the effective preparation of quality educators.

Field experiences at Northern Michigan University have undergone many changes in the past few year. Field experiences in the undergraduate professional education curriculum at Northern Michigan University prepare students to work effectively as professionals in schools as elementary, secondary and special education teachers. Prospective teachers move from observation of students and classroom activities to full assumption of the role of the teacher. These formal field experiences begin in the first education course and progress through student teaching giving students opportunities to observe, plan and practice in a variety of settings appropriate to the professional roles for which they are being prepared.

This handbook will briefly outline the skills students are expected to demonstrate related to field experiences. The skills are incremental and hierarchical to involve the student in the process of mastering all of the duties of a teacher. Through observation, planning and practice in the pre-methods, methods and student teaching phases, students apply educational principles in more demanding roles.

The roles and responsibilities of the Director of Field Experiences, school coordinator, principal, college-based supervisor, field-based supervisor and the education student are clearly delineated in this handbook along with the philosophy, goals and policies of the field experience program, evaluation procedures and criteria, sequence of responsibilities and suggestions for orientation to help students have successful experiences.

Teacher Education Conceptual Framework

A conceptual framework for teacher education should begin with a definition of education. After all, assumptions about education (sometimes explicit, but more often implicit) pervade all teacher education programs. Israel Scheffler offered the following definition that informs our teacher education program:

[Education is] the formation of habits of judgment and the development of character, the elevation of standards, the facilitation of understanding, the development of taste and discrimination, the stimulation of curiosity and wondering, the fostering of style and a sense of beauty, the growth of a thirst for new ideas and vision of the yet unknown.

In keeping with Scheffler’s definition, NMU teacher educators accept a unique responsibility, for we understand that effective teaching constitutes both the desired outcome and the desired means for achieving that outcome. The dynamics of effective teaching occur in our program in the following concomitant ways:  

Teacher candidates form habits of judgment, develop character, taste and discrimination, elevate standards, facilitate understanding, stimulate curiosity and wondering, foster style and a sense of beauty and thirst for new ideas and a vision of the yet unknown.

  • Teacher candidates learn how to foster these characteristics in their own classrooms with their own students.
  • We teacher educators develop and embody these same qualities in ourselves and in our courses.

In addition to a definition of education, three questions shape the development of our conceptual framework: (1) What is the nature of teaching, both as we practice it and as we wish our candidates to? (2) What are the models of learning we wish to develop in our candidates and practice within our faculty? (3) What is the knowledge base we wish to incorporate in our instructional program?

Teaching is essentially axiological: it is grounded in ethical and aesthetic values. Teaching ethically means addressing the full range of human diversity as it affects the learning of individual students and the class. It also means that our candidates and we have the right and responsibility to construct meaning within the diverse and common visions of the good. Teaching aesthetically requires imagination, passion and a strong grounding in the techniques and foundations of the genre. To define teaching aesthetically, we move beyond a language of competence to articulate a vision of the ideal. By articulating such a vision, we challenge many of the reified assumptions in the discourse of contemporary education, and thereby move our teaching and that of our candidates ever closer to enacting transformative educational practices.

Our vision includes valuing collaboration, acknowledging that theory derives from practice and viewing the professor as one learner among many. The instructional strategies we model go beyond the didactic to include community building, candidate-directed group work and discussions, opportunities for feedback, coaching and individual criticism. Extensive opportunities for field experience in all phases of the program ensure relevant contexts for our practice and enable teacher candidates to learn from teachers and students in K-12 settings. As learners ourselves, we are responsible for continual improvement of our courses, inviting candidate evaluation through discussion and critique so that candidates contribute to course design and revision. As a school, we are committed to a process of ongoing reexamination to improve all aspects of our program.

The knowledge base that supports candidate performance in a variety of settings derives from candidate experiences in authentic educational settings, the best available research on what constitutes good teaching practices and that which is consonant with the Michigan entry-level standards for teacher candidates and continuing certification standards for teachers, the Michigan subject matter content standards and the Michigan teaching and learning standards.

Derivatives

Derivative #1: Habits of Judgment and Development of Character

A derivative that explores habits of judgment and development of character highlights two qualities of Scheffler’s definition. What follows from taking these qualities seriously? For us as teacher educators, what most clearly follows is that the teachers we prepare must themselves be capable of making judgments (and be in the habit of actually doing so) and must be of good character.

Given that schools are reflective of the society in which they exist and given that schools also help shape the future of our society, taking the development of character and judgment seriously also means that we develop in our candidates a commitment to social justice and the role schools have to play in its attainment.

Moreover, taking this derivative seriously commits us as a faculty to developing both habits of mind and habits of the heart that will lead to a practice steeped in reflection and judgment and based in the ethics that define good character. The following actions serve to help our candidates and our program achieve these aims:

  • Infuse into all courses the sense that teaching, at its heart, is an ethical practice that places ethical demands on the teacher. Professional competence and subject expertise are neither the only nor the least of these demands.
  • Develop norms of practice for our candidates and us.
  • Be particularly sensitive to issues of racism, sexism, homophobia and other forms of discrimination in our own teaching and in the professional development of our candidates.
  • Hold as one of the standards in the methods courses and in teaching internships the extent to which the teacher candidates respond ethically and effectively to the diverse and individual needs of the students in their care.
  • Place candidates only with teacher-supervisors who exemplify the highest standards of care and concern for their students (habits of the heart) as well as those who will model inquiry-centered and thoughtful pedagogy (habits of mind).
  • Because ends and means are related, consider the hidden curriculum embodied in particular techniques.
  • Because a reductionist and algorithmic pedagogy inhibit the development of judgment, emphasize dialog and discussion in classes we teach, requiring candidates to exercise judgment and engage in intellectual work with their peers and their instructors as partners.
  • Because the teacher preparation program is focused at least as much on what it means to be a teacher as it is on the skills and knowledge needed to teach, we must keep class sizes small enough so that we can interact personally with our candidates as we help them make the transformation from lay people to professionals with an understanding of the purposes of the profession.
  • Remain aware of the dangers inherent in our profession. Examine our standards to prevent becoming overly narrow and didactic. While we seek to discourage our graduates from being technically proficient homophobes or racists, we must also avoid being excessively zealous or self-righteous. The effort to decide with sufficient specificity what we are looking for is a challenge to our professional community. Ultimately, such decisions will be part of what we are teaching: we need to exercise judgment about the character of our candidates and ourselves.

Derivative #2: Teaching as Artistry

A derivative that explores teaching as artistry centers on two related sets of propositions implicit in the definition of education as given in the conceptual framework: (1) teaching is an ethical activity, and (2) teaching is a rational activity.

As an ethical activity, teaching requires, among other things, that teachers value their students. Valuing, as in appreciation, however, carries a connotation of the aesthetic. Thus to act in a fully ethical manner, teachers must also act aesthetically. That is, they must exhibit artistry in the practice of their craft and must develop, as suggested in Scheffler’s definition, a sense of taste and discrimination in appraising the practice of others. Eliot Eisner supports this notion when he argues that becoming a connoisseur of excellent teaching is essential to becoming an excellent teacher. Because artistry and connoisseurship are best developed in the context of the studio, ethical teacher education must be field-based where candidates may observe master teachers and have increasing opportunities to practice their own teaching.

Because teaching is also a rational activity, reasons must be given for judging a particular teaching performance as art. These reasons can be adduced by examining behaviors in the visual and performing arts and drawing parallels for teaching. The following list is suggestive only and in no way exhausts possible behaviors:

  • The artist/teacher displays respect for his/her craft. Teachers deal with their students, colleagues and content respectfully.
  • All cultures have their great artists, those who use their various media to reflect on the nature of reality and possibility. The artist/teacher appreciates the value of diversity in expanding his/her own vision of reality and possibility and draws on diverse cultural elements in crafting his/her practice.
  • Ends as objects-in-view are valued only to the degree that the means for reaching them are valued. That is, the value a teacher assigns to his/her students is reflected in the care that the artist/teacher uses in selecting the strategies and content for teaching his/her students.
  • The teacher/artist recognizes the value of technology as a medium of instruction. Like his/her counterpart in the arts, he/she also recognizes that the object of utilizing any medium is to touch the human heart; the medium is not the end in itself.
  • All great art contains an element of the unexpected. Artists/teachers exhibit creativity, imagination and the ability to think metaphorically.
  • Artists approach their medium with a sense of humility, recognizing that they have it within them to either enhance the qualities of that medium through their art or to destroy them. Artist/teachers exhibit this humility through the degree to which they can reflect on and modify their practices.
  • Artists are passionate about their work. Artist/teachers display their passion through the enthusiasm they bring to their classroom and their willingness to go beyond the prescribed limits of their practice.
  • Parsimony of action characterizes aesthetic acts. Artists/teachers reach their goals deftly with a minimum of unnecessary activity.

Finally, because one does not value one’s students in the aggregate, it is essential for ethical and aesthetic teaching that class sizes be maintained that allow for individual attention and interaction.

Derivative #3: Subject Matter Content as Medium

A derivative that explores subject matter content as medium arises from Scheffler’s definition of education and our claim that teaching is an art, grounded in ethical and aesthetic qualities. Therefore, mastery of subject matter content, which receives so much attention in educational reform initiatives, is not the primary aim of education; rather, subject matter content is the medium through which teachers and students form habits of judgment, develop character and so on. By reconceptualizing the subject matter content metaphor from object to medium, we seek to expand the possibilities of ways in which teachers and students engage one another in the daily practice of educating themselves.

The artfulness of teaching is a fusing of pedagogy and content. Teachers make pedagogical judgments about what content to address and how to design classroom experiences that will assist students in engaging this content as a means to expand and deepen their own learning. The task of the teacher is to design learning experiences that will enable students to develop their own capacity for understanding (i.e., form habits of judgment, etc.).

Students are not objects, either. Subject matter content is the medium through which teaching/learning relationships among teachers and students develop. As Patricia Hinchey and others point out, content is a matter of human interpretation and not something existing independently in the world just waiting for us to find. Instead, content becomes a dynamic medium through which human beings examine data (facts, artifacts and so on) and assign meaning to it. Knowledge arises from the sense that humans make through engaging the medium of content.

The following characteristics (suggestive and not comprehensive) describe learning environments in which subject matter content is the medium for education:

  • Students and teachers manipulate information and ideas by synthesizing, generalizing, explaining and arriving at conclusions that create new meanings, understandings, questions and capacities for them.
  • Students and teachers thoroughly address central ideas of a topic or discipline to explore connections and relationships, thereby enacting a process of complex, deepening questioning and understanding.
  • Students and teachers engage in extended conversations about subject matter in a way that develops an improved and shared understanding of ideas and topics.
  • Students and teachers make connections between substantive knowledge and public problems and personal experiences.
  • Students and teachers emphasize self-directed, lifelong learning through conveying high expectations, encouraging risk taking and creating a climate of mutual respect among all class members.

Derivative #4: Race, Culture and Social Justice

A derivative that explores race, culture and social justice attempts to call into question the social and political agenda in this country that has long included (and in some ways continues to be) the myth of cultural assimilation and the practice of racial hegemony. A by-product of such a view has helped to create and sustain perceptual differentiations of some U. S. citizens in ways that have led to stereotyping, prejudice and discrimination.

Drawing on our view of education, as embodied in Scheffler’s definition and the three fundamental questions, we must include a commitment to providing experiences that foster a critical understanding of the central role of racial and cultural differences (both historically and contemporarily) in this country.

This derivative focuses on an explicit paradigm of teaching that reflects an inclusive view of diversity and of social justice. Given the social and political implications related to this part of the conceptual framework, the following perspectives constitute basic pursuits in teaching with a stance toward diversity:

  • A teaching perspective that embraces diversity must demonstrate a willingness to acknowledge the credibility of cultural differences, particularly those that challenge comfortable, long-held assumptions about teaching and learning.
  • A teaching perspective that embraces diversity must assist students in fostering a socially and politically reconstructed view of how knowledge is constructed around issues such as: race, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status and language.
  • A teaching perspective that embraces an inclusive and respectful view of racial and cultural pluralism must explore and integrate the following:
  • Cross-cultural similarities/connections (e.g., intercultural connections);
  • Dispositions that support social justice and oppose inequity;
  • Situated pedagogies (e.g., culturally responsive/relevant teaching);
  • Social action in teaching and learning; and
  • Critical analysis of issues such as democracy and democratic ideas.

Derivative #5: Technology

In exploring a derivate that addresses technology, we do not intend to imply that technology in and of itself is as fundamental to our conceptual framework as our other derivatives. Technology is a means to informing, and not necessarily to understanding or to knowing. Therefore, technology must speak to the present and future social realities and possibilities that impact the quality of life, learning and growth (education) we expound, model and seek to empower. How can technologies be employed to move our practice and that of our candidates ever closer to the ideal? How can technology be employed in the formation of habits of judgment, facilitation of understanding, development of taste and discrimination, stimulation of curiosity and the thirst for new ideas and vision of the yet unknown? How can the critical exploration of the use and misuse, culturally diverse and unequal use and access and costs and consequences of technology be addressed within our work with candidates and the future use of technology in their classrooms with their students?

Technology as a knowledge base medium of instruction and communication and medium of research and professional development offers possibilities to educators at all levels. Yet, it must find an appropriate integration in our work, as a means to an end and not an end in itself. Technological knowledge must serve to promote and ensure collaborative and ethical work, must engage users in critical and creative thinking and problem solving that supports candidate construction of meaning, must be weighted in light of student diversity and cultural differences and most essentially social justice and equity of access and opportunity (the digital divide).

The increasing presence and power of technology to change all realms of our society mandates that educators strive to develop and maintain technological literacy in order to integrate various forms of technology within their instructional practice and as a means of modeling and engaging students in critical and ethical analysis of emerging forms of global communication, interaction and research. Both skills and habits of critical literacy need to be integrated into educational experiences that prepare teachers for creative adaptation to change and as agents of transformation within schools. The following actions serve to move these goals along:

  • Model the integration of technology as a means for communication and interaction with students, as a means for accessing and using multiple and diverse resources and as a means for professional interaction and growth within all courses.  
  • Employ computer technologies and software among varied instructional strategies and resources within all courses.
  • Promote and model habits of critical awareness concerning the nature and impact of technologies on issues of ethics, quality of life, social equity and justice, cost and consequence.
  • Explore the potential limitations in using the Internet.
  • Engage candidates in curriculum planning that addresses critical use and appropriate application of technologies for diverse student populations.
  • Encourage teacher activism as a means of seeking equitable access and opportunity for all students in all areas of learning and instruction within their schools and classrooms.