General Questions

Pre-student teachers are students in transition, shifting from their role as university “student” to a new role as “teacher.” This transition requires self-discipline and flexibility to interchange these roles throughout the semester or even throughout the day. We encourage pre-student teachers to “try on the shoes” of a teacher and engage in the behaviors accordingly—to think and act like teachersOf course, from a professional and legal standpoint, they are not yet certified teachers, and therefore, pre-student teachers are not to be given sole responsibility for the supervision of students.

Secondary education majors begin school placements in week 6 and finish at the end of week 11 of the Penn State calendar (see enclosed schedule for exact dates).

We expect students to arrive in the morning according to the mentor teacher’s schedule and depart leaving enough time to travel safely back to campus for their 12:20 pm courses.

Penn State requires pre-student teachers to place several phone calls to report an absence: they must call the school, the Office of Field Experiences, their university supervisor, and if scheduled for an observation on that day, their discipline-specific instructor. Additionally, we require pre-student teachers to make up days they miss for illness or personal circumstance. We do not require pre-student teachers to make up days in the event that school is cancelled or on a 2 hour delay due to inclement weather or other situations beyond the pre-student teachers’ control. However, they are encouraged to make the most of their time in school and consider spending additional time in the classroom with the students to make up for such days. The pre-student teachers will NOT attend school on days when school is on a two hour delay, nor will they be expected to drive through a closed district to get to a district that might be open.

Penn State University strongly encourages pre-student teachers to attend in-service days devoted to professional development and/or parent conferences, as both provide excellent opportunities for their own professional development. We trust the judgment of mentor teachers in determining when it is not appropriate for a pre-student teacher to attend meetings such as these.

Please notify the university supervisor or the Secondary Education Field Experience coordinator, Dr. Alicia McDyre, ([email protected] 814-863-4469) if a student’s absences grow excessive, jeopardize their ability to meet the demands of the teaching requirements, or raise concerns for any other reasons.

Towards the goal of thinking and acting like a teacher, pre-student teachers must plan for, implement, and assess student learning, as well as fulfill other professional responsibilities. Specifically, students must:

  1. Plan, implement and reflect on at least six lessons. We encourage students to teach more than six lessons. Further, some disciplines may require more than six lessons.
  2. Plan, implement and reflect on a series of at least three consecutive lessons. (These three lessons may count towards the required six.)
  3. If permissible in your school district, video record one of the six lessons and analyze it accordingly.
  4. Meet the protocol and professional policies expected of teachers in the district.
  5. Compose and share written lesson plans with their mentor teacher at least two days in advance of teaching a lesson.

Pre-student teachers need time and space necessary to practice, learn, and extend the knowledge, skills, and dispositions needed to become a teacher. Different pre-student teachers arrive in your classroom with varying degrees of classroom experience or level of comfort. Therefore, you might think of building the practicum as follows, adjusting the speed and load to individual needs while still meeting all the demands of the experience:

  • Week 1: Pre-student teachers observe mentor teacher, acquaint themselves to the school, schedule tentative teaching time/ dates/ courses, and identify units and/or lessons for pre-student teachers to teach.
    Mentor teacher and pre-student teacher may plan and co-teach a lesson or pre-student teacher may teach a portion of a mentor’s lesson; pre-student teacher may conduct a lesson with a small group of students or an individual student; pre-student teacher plans first lesson.
  • Week 2: The pre-student teacher will plan, implement, and reflect on his/her first lesson(s); plan for future lessons including a series of lessons, and the video recorded lesson (obtaining permissions as necessary).
  • Week 3: The pre-student teacher will plan, implement, and reflect on his/her lessons; the mentor teacher will formally observe and provide written feedback on at least one lesson taught by the pre-student teacher and complete the “midterm” assessment form. The university supervisor and mentor will meet to discuss the pre-student teacher’s progress.
  • Weeks 4-5: The pre-student teacher will plan, implement, and reflect on his/her lessons; the mentor teacher will formally observe and provide written feedback on at least one lesson taught by the pre-student teacher.
  • Week 6: The mentor teacher will complete the final assessment form, and meet with the university supervisor to discuss the progress of the pre-student teacher.

During this experience and in preparation for the expectations of student teaching, pre-student teachers are strongly encouraged to utilize a variety of lesson types from those noted below:

  • A lesson developed for a large group of students
  • A lesson developed for small groups of students and/or an individual student
  • A lesson developed and implemented cooperatively with another 495C pre-student teacher placed with the same mentor
  • A lesson developed and implemented cooperatively with the mentor teacher
  • A lesson that integrates technology and/or multimedia
  • A lesson that features kinesthetic and/or arts integration
  • A lesson that utilizes cooperative/collaborative learning
  • A lesson that incorporates inquiry and/or discussion

Since CI 495C or WLED 495C is a beginning step toward becoming a teacher, your encouragement and feedback are extremely important and valuable. Let the pre-student teacher know specifically what is going well and provide specific and direct feedback when appropriate. If he or she needs additional support, contact the university supervisor or the Coordinator of Field Experiences for this course. The CI 495C or WLED 495C pre-student teacher’s success is important to all of us.

The following tips may assist you in guiding the pre-student teacher toward becoming a professional:

  1. Offer a supportive environment in which a beginning teacher can learn. You may find a situation in which you could do the job better and/or faster yourself. Learning to teach takes time and patience; this is one of the first times your pre-student teacher has formally been in the role of a classroom teacher.
  2. Provide specific feedback. Think of yourself as a coach, making suggestions that will help the pre-student teacher improve performance.
  3. Take time to listen carefully to your beginning teacher. Most are anxious at the beginning and need you to listen, which they interpret as caring about them.
  4. Establish open and honest communication. Problem solving, early on, will more likely result in a productive experience and a mutually respectful relationship. Help the prospective teacher set goals for improvement and monitor his/her achievement of those goals.
  5. Simply opening up your classroom to a beginning teacher is very helpful and much appreciated!

The current demands placed on public schools in the name of accountability require that teachers, pre-student and veteran teachers alike, respond to the individual learning needs of students to the greatest extent possible. Please expect that our students will spend some of their time in the classroom working with students individually and in small groups. It is our plan that at this critical first official teaching experience the pre-student teachers begin building a repertoire of instructional strategies that will be most necessary as they take on the challenges of their own classrooms. Penn State encourages a co-teaching model where mentor teacher and pre-student teacher jointly plan lessons and teach students. Through co-teaching, the pre-student teacher is an active participant in a collaborative process of planning and teaching.

It is vital for all concerned to recognize that the CI 495C or WLED 495C student is not a finished product. In fact, this is the first extended and formal opportunity the pre-student teacher will have in a classroom. For this reason, a grade of satisfactory or unsatisfactory is given in the CI 495 C or WLED 495C field experience. In this initial step toward becoming a teacher, the prospective teacher will have the opportunity to demonstrate growth. The pre-student teacher’s grade is based on his or her ability to meet the standards identified as appropriate for this field experience in the four performance domains described above. He or she is viewed as a novice teacher, and subsequently, is to be evaluated as such. The university supervisor, the mentor teacher, and the pre-student teacher jointly contribute assessment data in the determination of the pre-student teacher’s grade for the field experience.

More specifically, mentor teachers should meet with pre-student teachers regularly, at least once before each lesson and informally throughout the experience, to provide verbal feedback and guidance. Further, mentor teachers must observe and provide written feedback on at least two lessons taught by the pre-student teacher. It is in the best interest of the pre-student teacher that both the mentor teacher and the university supervisor complete one observation prior to mid-term and the second observation near the conclusion of the field experience.

Please provide specific feedback that will encourage the growth of the pre-student teacher. Comments should address the consistency and the quality of the pre-student teacher’s actions throughout the lesson.

The form for these observations will be provided by the university supervisor. Finally, mentor teachers must evaluate the pre-student teacher formally, once at midterm and once at the end of the practicum. The performance criteria for evaluation are on the attached assessment form.

The initial contact should be the CI 495C/WLED 495C university supervisor since he or she visits your school regularly. The university supervisor can answer questions regarding the field experience and access information as pertinent to the pre-student teacher’s methods courses. If you have any comments, questions, or concerns about the CI 495C/ WLED 495C experience contact the Field Experience Office at (814) 863-4469 and speak with Dr. McDyre, Coordinator of Field Experiences for Secondary Education. We look forward to a rewarding partnership with you and your school and thank you for your important contribution to the development of the next generation of teachers!

  • Approve your pre-student teacher’s lesson plans
  • Do one written observation before March 5
  • Do second written observation before April 2
  • Fill out evaluation form prior to final conference
  • Participate in mid-term and final conferences
  • Be professional
  • Teach a minimum of 6 lessons
  • Assist in the classroom daily
  • Work with individual students or small groups

Thank you for agreeing to mentor a C I 495C or WL ED 495C pre-student teacher in your classroom this semester. The faculty and staff in The Pennsylvania State University College of Education view you as a vital partner in developing the next generation of education professionals. Our pre-student teachers gain much from having an opportunity to observe and teach in the schools side-by-side with an experienced classroom teacher.

The pre-student teaching field experience (C I 495C or WL ED 495C) is part of the Secondary Education (SECED) program, and is taken concurrently with a discipline-specific methods class (i.e. MTHED 412, LL ED 412, SCIED 412, SS ED 412, WL ED 412). Most students enroll in this course in the semester directly before student teaching. As a “field” experience, C I 495C / WL ED 495C takes place in schools and in seminars with university supervisors, where students apply, extend, and reflect on the concepts, questions, theories, and models studied in the university-based courses, especially those in the SECED methods classes.

In accord with the Penn State University Secondary Teacher Education Performance Framework, student inquiry, assignments, and assessment for C I 495C or WL ED 495C will address four domains of teaching and learning:

  1. Planning and Preparing for Student Learning
  2. Teaching
  3. Inquiry and Analysis of Teaching and Learning
  4. Fulfilling Professional Responsibilities

Hopefully, this guidebook will help you understand the goals of the Penn State Teacher Education Program and the expectations of the C I 495C and WL ED 495C pre-student teaching experience. We thank you for your contribution toward ensuring the professional growth of our pre-student teachers. Feel free to contact us by email or phone with your questions, comments, or concerns.