Assignment Letter

You will receive e-mail notification as soon as regional assignments have been made and letters are ready. It is essential that you update the CIFE Office of any phone/address/status changes in order to keep your student teaching application information current. You should expect your assignment letter in March following a January 31 deadline and in November following a September 30 deadline. Keep in mind that you are not guaranteed a placement in your regional preference.

Practicum Supervisor

Your practicum supervisor will be a member of the Penn State supervising faculty who resides in the vicinity of the Center to which you have been assigned. Therefore, he/she is readily available to Penn State teacher candidates and school personnel for consultation and assistance. Duly certified and experienced, your University supervisor will conduct the weekly professional development seminar which is a required part of your practicum, will confer regularly with you and your mentor teacher, and will assess your performance. Your initial meeting with your practicum supervisor will occur at your interview.

Requests for Placement Changes

Assignments are made based upon the information you provided on your application and upon current University guidelines. Therefore few, if any, changes will be possible. Please include appropriate documents to verify your special circumstance(s). Requests for change of placement must be received by the date specified in the assignment letter. Consideration will be given to each request, but changes cannot be guaranteed

Housing and Transportation Issues

  • We are sensitive to the financial constraints of our teacher candidates and their families; however, we cannot always be as responsive to your preferences for practicum placements as you would like us to be. For this reason, we inform you well in advance and at different points that provisions for housing and transportation should be a part of your long-term plans.
  • Local housing leases: When signing a lease for the semester(s) prior to student teaching, keep in mind that most teacher candidates are not assigned to the Central Region for student teaching. Long-term leases are not justification for preferential placements in the Central Region. Following are some suggestions:
  • Although there is no guarantee, you may want to consider contacting the Housing Assignment Office to see if you could arrange on-campus housing for your senior year at UP. You can contact the Housing Assignment Office by email at: [email protected] or you can phone them at 814-865-7501.
  • If you plan to student teach Spring Semester, check around for other options before committing to a 12-month lease.
  • Our Student Affairs Off-campus Living Office provides Web site advertising of leases for sub-letting (
  • Low-interest Loan: A low-interest loan of $600 is available to teacher candidates during the actual student teaching semester. The loan is based upon need. Applications for the Vandermeer Loan are available in 170 Chambers Bldg.

The Student Teaching Interview

  • Your assignment letter will contain details about a required interview with your practicum supervisor. The interview will be conducted at University Park preceding your student teaching semester. Central Region interviews are held late in the semester, just following placement notification. Non-Central Region interviews are held early the following semester (the semester prior to student teaching).
  • The assignment letter will direct you to come to the CIFE Office, 170 Chambers, to sign up for a specific time to meet with your supervisor.
  • You should dress professionally for the interview, arrive a few minutes early, have the required paperwork with correct grammar and spelling, and exhibit professionalism and maturity in your oral and written responses.
  • You will be asked to provide the following materials at your interview:
  • Two (2) copies of completed and signed Personal Data Forms (available online at
  • Two (2) signed copies of the Guest-Host Relationship Forms (available online at
  • Two (2) copies each of an up-to-date unofficial transcript and course audit (both are available on eLion)
  • One COPY of your FBI Clearance (available online at
  • One COPY of your PA Criminal Record Check (available online at
  • One COPY of your PA Child Abuse History Clearance (available online at
  • One COPY copies of proof of professional liability insurance (available online at
  • One COPY copies of your tuberculosis test report (available online at
  • One copy of a lesson plan developed from previous course work. If you do not have a lesson plan, you should develop one using the format suggested by your program faculty.
  • You must submit COPIES of clearances at your interview, though one or all might have expired. You must submit COPIES of valid clearances before you student teach. To be valid, a clearance must have been issued within one year of the first day of your practicum. Some school districts require that clearances remain valid throughout your student teaching semester. Your supervisor will tell you whether or not your clearances must be valid throughout your student teaching experience. Students should KEEP and file all ORIGINALS in a safe place!
  • The specific schools within each regional center are determined by administrative agreements between Penn State and school districts. Utilization of particular schools may vary from one semester to another. Students may not negotiate with any party for a particular assignment; but it is appropriate for students to communicate intended housing information (if known) to the regional center supervisor during the student teaching interviews.
  • At the interview, you will be notified about a subsequent orientation meeting which occur later in the semester at University Park.
  • Failure to complete the interview will be reason to cancel your practicum for that semester.
  • Following the interview: The practicum supervisor will return to her/his regional center and resume supervision of the current cohort of student teachers while negotiating your school placement for the following semester.

Orientation Meeting

  • Later in the semester, just prior to student teaching, you will again meet with your supervisor on campus. At this second meeting, you will receive more specific information about registration procedures. If your supervisor has received confirmation from participating school districts for your placement, the information will be shared with you at this time, as well as your mentor teacher's name, housing, transportation, directions for reporting to your assignment, and general information about the regional center. Please make special note of the following:
  • You should take your copy of the STUDENT TEACHING HANDBOOK with you to this meeting. Please see the paragraph “Student Teaching Handbook” below for more specific details.

After Orientation, Prior to Beginning Student Teaching

  • Student Teaching Handbook: You must download the Student Teaching Handbook from the Curriculum and Instruction Field Experiences website. Your supervisor will inform you as to how you should provide a copy of the Student Teaching Handbook to your mentor. South Dakota candidates, and those students teaching abroad, will take the mentor teacher’s copy of the Student Teaching Handbook with them.
  • Contacting Your Mentor Teacher: Before your student teaching semester begins, you should contact your mentor teacher and, when possible, visit the school. Become informed in advance about school policies and practices, the mentor teacher’s responsibilities and curriculum, the students, and the community. Many schools and neighboring communities have websites that could be useful in this regard.
  • Clearances: Student teaching and all other field experiences require specific current clearances, insurances and assurances before proceeding. Information and forms are available on the ‘Clearances” section of this website:
  • Beginning the Practicum: An extensive orientation will be held in the regional center at the beginning of the student teaching semester. Your practicum supervisor will provide information concerning the date, time and place.
  • Wholehearted Commitment: Some teacher candidates experience difficulties because they do not anticipate the magnitude of the work load and time commitment. Others discover that applying knowledge is much more challenging than acquiring it. Because evaluation is performance-based, new strategies must be learned and practiced. Your performance must exhibit specific evidence of competencies required for beginning teachers. The learning curve is steep; therefore, ensure yourself a good beginning and deter overload by limiting your activities, as much as possible, to practicum responsibilities. Schools are unwilling to entrust their students to teacher candidates who are not serious about their work. We, too, expect your wholehearted commitment.

Best wishes as you proceed toward this most exciting and challenging semester!