Section II: Roles and Responsibilities
Frequently Asked Questions
How will I get to and from my practicum or student teaching site?
Teacher candidates are responsible for arranging their own transportation to and from practicum or student teaching sites. Placement decisions are made based on each teacher candidate's pre-professional development needs and not on transportation issues. In some cases, teacher candidates are able to carpool or rent a shared car.
Can I count the hours I spend traveling to my school?
No. Travel hours are built into the practicum schedule, but they cannot be counted toward the total on-site contact hour requirement.
What fees are associated with practicum or student teaching?
There are no additional university fees attached to field experience courses. However, teacher candidates may be required to pay for fees related to individual schools' security clearance procedures. These fees and requirements vary from program to program, and you will be informed of any of these by the placement coordinator.
How should I dress for my practicum or student teaching experience?
Your field experiences provide you with an opportunity to begin working as a professional in the field. Therefore, you are expected to be neat, clean, and properly attired for your school. Although each school has its own dress code and policies, the education department frowns upon wearing jeans and shorts as a general rule.
What do I do if I have to miss a day due to illness or an emergency?
You are expected to attend all of your scheduled days for your field experience. However, we do understand that emergencies and illnesses arise that prevent you from attending your experience. If you need to miss a day of your practicum or student teaching, you need to inform your cooperating teacher, university supervisor, and interpreters as soon as you know you will not be attending. You will work with your cooperating teacher and university supervisor to determine the plan for making up absences.
What if my cooperating teacher is out of school?
You should still plan to attend school, even if your cooperating teacher is out. However, the cooperating teacher is not to leave you in the role of a "substitute teacher" at any time as it presents significant liability issues. If you are being used as a substitute teacher, please contact your university supervisor immediately.
Can I use my cell phone or pager in the school?
While there are students in the classroom, you are not permitted to make calls or text others for any reason. If you have an emergency and need to contact someone, then you need to excuse yourself. For non-emergency contacts, you should plan to address those after the end of your work in the school.
How often do I need to complete a background check?
At a minimum, you must complete a background check every year. Some schools will not accept out-of-state background checks or anything older than six months, so you may be asked to complete a background check for every school you are placed in.
How often do I need to complete a tuberculosis test (PPD)?
This must be completed at least once a year. Many schools will not allow you to begin practicum or student teaching without having the PPD completed. This test may be done at Student Health Services (SHS) or your personal doctor, and it takes three days to complete. Give a copy of your results to the placement coordinator.
Goals and Objectives
The general goal of field experiences is for the teacher candidate to observe and experience the roles the cooperating teacher normally assumes. The teacher candidate should spend most of his or her time in the classroom interacting with students.
In addition, the teacher candidate is a representative of Gallaudet University and should reflect the high standards of the education program by dressing and acting professionally. In addition, the teacher candidate should recognize that schools and cooperating teachers evaluate candidates based on appearance and behavior. These are the same schools and cooperating teachers that could be future colleagues or references.
For the conceptual framework for the teacher preparation program and the standards guiding instruction for all education majors at Gallaudet University, please see Appendices A and B.
The teacher candidate:
- Is a guest in the classroom and the school and acts accordingly.
- Places field experience responsibilities before personal wishes and accepts all duties professionally.
- Assumes authority only when it is delegated by the cooperating teacher, who is legally responsible for the class.
- Maintains confidentiality at all times.
- Accepts, considers, and uses suggestions and recommendations from the cooperating teacher.
- Prepares lesson plans and makes them available to both the cooperating teacher and/or university supervisor for review and feedback prior to implementation.
- Acts professionally at all times:
- Dresses appropriately and professionally.
- Arrives on time each day.
- Remains onsite during arranged hours.
- Follows the academic calendar of your placement site.
- Attends professional development meetings, as appropriate.
- Obtains relevant information about the community, the school or program, and the students.
- Observes students, class instruction and learning activities, and management techniques.
- Participates in classroom activities, home or community trips, contacts and meetings with parents, and professional development activities.
- Assists the cooperating teacher and assumes some responsibility for the assessment and instruction of individual students or groups. During student teaching, the teacher candidate will be fully responsible for planning, teaching, and assessing the students each day.
- Meets with his or her cooperating teacher each week to:
- Create a plan for your involvement in the sharing of classroom responsibilities, including meeting times (for lesson planning and feedback).
- Discuss the expectations of the cooperating teacher, particularly around roles and responsibilities.
- Share course requirements related to practicum.
- Discuss the curriculum to be covered in the classroom.
- Obtain a calendar for the school.
- Obtain texts and other classroom materials.
- Obtain class lists or seating charts.
- Become familiar with the regulations, guidelines, and policies of the school.
The following checklist will help to ensure that you are prepared for and complete the requirements for the field experience:
Before Field Experience
- Read and become familiar with the contents of this handbook as well as the course syllabus.
- Contact your cooperating teacher.
- Keep the tone of your contact professional at all times.
- Ask about important policies.
- Arrange a meeting time, if possible.
- Share expectations and requirements of experience.
- Take a dry run to the school to determine the route and timing you will need. This prevents you from being late on your first day. Remember: first impressions are everything!
During Field Experience
- During the first week, meet with your cooperating teacher to review all assignments connected to your experience and establish a timeline for completion (See the Field Experience Agreement, p. 28)
- Submit a time log to your university supervisor, as required (See Time Logs, pp. 29-30)
- Submit lesson plans on time to your university supervisor.
- Prepare TWS materials as early as possible. Trust us: this will reduce your stress!
- Observe your students and collect data for your TWS Factor 1.
- Meet with your cooperating teacher weekly to review lesson plans and get feedback on performance.
After Field Experience
- Complete evaluations listed in the Field Experience Forms section of this handbook.
- Complete your TWS.
This is not intended to be an exhaustive list of activities that you can do in practicum, but it provides an idea of the ways in which you can participate in your assigned classroom.
- Environment - What supports learning? What hinders learning?
- Students -
- Learning styles
- Ways of signing and/or speaking
- Teachers -
- Instructional Strategies
- Ways of explaining concepts
- Classroom management
- Conduct the Morning Meeting or Circle Time activities
- Assist the teacher
- Distribute and collect papers
- Correct or grade student work
- Create bulletin boards or learning centers
- Set up for instructional activities
- Help supervise during other duties: lunch, recess, class changes
- Help with planning
- Differentiate lessons
- Coordinate technology
- Gather materials
- Tutor students
- Co-teach with your cooperating teacher
- Teach lessons
- Small group
- Large group
As a cooperating teacher, you play a critical role in the professional development of an aspiring teacher. You serve as a role model for the teacher candidate. The guidance and direction you provide, and the ways you demonstrate and carry out your many instructional and non-instructional activities are bound to have long-term effects on how the teacher candidate performs as a teacher.
Serving as a cooperating teacher does add some tasks to the many you already assume. However, you may find this supervisory and mentoring role to be professionally satisfying. We sincerely hope that the slight extra burdens will be more than offset by the enthusiasm, the new ideas, and the assistance that the candidate will bring to you and your students.
The Candidates' Background and Preparation:
- All teacher candidates have some background and preparation prior to entering a field experience course. Since we have both undergraduate and graduate teacher candidates, the amount of background varies from individual to individual. However, here is what you can expect for all students prior to entering any field experience course:
- An introductory education course
- At least one curriculum course
- At least one course which requires students to spend time in schools observing and reflecting on what they see
- Met Praxis I requirement for the District of Columbia
- Please remember that these are teacher candidates seeking initial licensure. They will not have the same knowledge and experience that you, as a master teacher, have. That's why they are in your classroom!
- If you should observe what you feel are significant gaps in the teacher candidate's content knowledge, preparation, dispositions, or performance, please discuss these concerns with the candidate and with the university supervisor.
Your Role in Supporting the Teacher Candidate's Success
In planning activities for your teacher candidate, variety is essential. Teacher candidates need multiple opportunities to become orientated, observe, participate, and instruct. Portions of the candidate's time should be devoted to each of these tasks. During practicum, the candidate should be given opportunities to plan and carry out some individual, small-group, and full-class instruction. Exactly when this should occur and how much teaching above the minimum requirements the candidate should do is up to you and the candidate.
Candidates should prepare lesson plans, to be approved by you and the university supervisor, before teaching any lessons. The format and content of these plans are left to your discretion. The candidate may request to use a specific format suggested by or required in concurrent university courses.
Use this checklist to ensure that the field experience is a success for both you and the teacher candidate.
Prior to teacher candidate's arrival
- Prepare your students, families, and other personnel by informing them about the teacher candidate's arrival.
- Collect materials (regarding school policies, procedures, your classes, and students) which can be shared with the teacher candidate.
- Arrange a meeting with the teacher candidate, if possible, to review expectations and the teacher candidate's role. If not possible, then get to know your candidate before s/he arrives.
- Familiarize yourself with the role of interpreters (p. 22), if applicable.
The first week
- Set aside meeting time(s) to get acquainted, explain your classes and procedures, share materials, and tour the school if not done already.
- Establish a schedule of meeting times and supervisory observations (see Suggested Topics for Initial Conference below).
- Inform the teacher candidate of "basic information and ground rules" for the school and for your situation regarding arrival and departure times, use of the teacher's lounge, use of equipment and supplies.
- Allow time for the teacher candidate to interact with the students and to learn class routines.
- Determine which unit(s) or lesson(s) the teacher candidate will plan and teach.
Ongoing throughout experience
- Provide continual feedback to the teacher candidate:
- Lesson plans
- Performance in class
- Meet with the teacher candidate and the university supervisor to discuss performance.
- Encourage the candidate's independence, initiative, and originality. You may want some tasks done in specific ways. Other tasks may lend themselves more to new, flexible approaches.
- Have the candidate join you in various duties around the building.
- Have the teacher candidate observe you teaching a variety of lessons and carrying out various duties:
- discuss your lesson objectives and procedures.
- share your long-range instructional goals, the students' IEPs/IFSPs (if applicable), content area standards to be addressed, and texts/materials used with your students.
After the experience
- Complete the teacher candidate's evaluations on tk20:
- Disposition Assessment
- Evaluation of Teaching
- Complete the handbook evaluation online.
Suggested Topics for the Initial Conference
- What schedule has been set up for the teacher candidate and cooperating teacher to meet for planning?
- How often will the cooperating teacher observe the teacher candidate formally? Informally?
- How does the teacher candidate prefer to receive feedback? How does the cooperating teacher prefer to give it? Is there a middle ground?
- Are there any concerns about the calendar for either the teacher candidate or cooperating teacher?
- What questions do the teacher candidate or cooperating teachers have for the university supervisor?
- What questions or concerns does the cooperating teacher have regarding evaluation of the teacher candidate?
- How can the university supervisor, cooperating teacher, teacher candidate, and interpreter(s) be reached if needed?
- What concerns does the teacher candidate have? The cooperating teacher, the university supervisor?
- What responsibilities will the teacher candidate assume and on what timeline?
- What arrangements can be made to have the teacher candidate meet with special education teachers to (a) discuss accommodations that need to be made for any of the students who have disabilities? (b) arrange for the student teacher to attend an IEP or other team meeting (if appropriate and possible)?
A Note about Feedback
Part of the role of the cooperating teacher includes providing continuous constructive feedback on the teacher candidate's performance. Without feedback, the teacher candidates will not know which areas they should focus on as they continue through the program. This feedback can take many approaches: critical comments and corrections, suggestions, reminders, and reinforcement for things well done. As such, here are some tips to ensure that your feedback has the maximum impact for the teacher candidate:
- Consider timing: Some things must be corrected on-the-spot. Other feedback can be deferred until after an activity is completed. Either way, feedback should be offered frequently in order to allow the teacher candidate the opportunity to improve. Common times to provide feedback include:
- After the teacher candidate teaches a lesson.
- After the teacher candidate leads a group activity.
- Midway through the field experience.
- Balance the feedback: Provide positive comments as well as areas needing improvement.
- Consider asking open-ended questions to encourage the teacher candidate to reflect on his or her own performance.
- How do you think that went?
- How did the students react?
- What could you have done differently?
- Find ways to communicate with the teacher candidate:
- Face-to-face meetings
- VP or phone
- Provide descriptions that permit the student teacher to reflect on performance and improve upon it
- Provide regular, informal feedback in written and oral form
- Help the student teacher develop goals and strategies based on the feedback
Writing Letters of Recommendation
Cooperating teachers are often asked to write a letter of recommendation for teacher candidates. It is your decision about whether to accept or decline the request. These guidelines are provided to assist you in preparing a letter, should you decide to write a letter of recommendation:
- Use school letterhead for the letter, and limit the length to one or two pages. The letterhead is only necessary for the first page.
- Use the teacher candidate's full formal name.
- Include a brief description of the context in which the teacher candidate worked, such as type of program, school, or community.
- Describe the classes taught by the teacher candidate. Include course name(s), grade level(s), topic(s), and any other relevant information.
- Describe the strengths you observed in the teacher candidate, and support your description with examples from the experience.
- Describe what you see as the potential of the teacher candidate.
Each teacher candidate is assigned a university supervisor. The supervisor is required to observe to the candidate on-site between two (2) and five (5) times during the field experience, though more visits may occur. (See course-specific requirements for specific number of visits required.) The purpose of these visits is to observe the teacher candidate participating in and leading classroom activities and to discuss the candidate's performance with the cooperating teacher and the teacher candidate. The university supervisor also has the responsibility for reviewing the teacher candidate's lesson plan(s), for providing assistance to the teacher candidate, and for conducting pre- and post-observation and evaluative conferences.
The University Supervisor provides a vital link between the school and Gallaudet University.
- Support the teacher candidate's development, particularly in identifying and applying effective instructional and management strategies.
- Conduct at least the number of observations as specified in the Course-Specific Guidelines of this handbook
- Provide the teacher candidate with appropriate feedback concerning lesson plans and other assignments, teaching behaviors, and interpersonal relations, with students and faculty after each visit.
- Get to know the cooperating teacher and teacher candidate. If possible, contact the cooperating teacher before field experience begins.
- Provide contact information to the cooperating teacher.
- Communicate on a regular basis, with the cooperating teacher about the teacher candidate's progress
- Emphasize with the teacher candidate:
- The teacher candidate is a guest in the classroom and the school.
- The cooperating teacher has the legal responsibility for the class.
- The teacher candidate should reflect on all feedback from the cooperating teacher and the university supervisor and make changes accordingly.
- Lesson plans are to be prepared and made available to both the cooperating teacher (always) and university supervisor (upon request) for review and feedback prior to implementation
- Teacher candidates are expected to conduct themselves as professionals at all times.
Interpreters may be assigned to work in your classroom with the teacher candidate. Their role is to be the ears and voice for the candidate. This section outlines the guidelines for what you can expect from an interpreter in the classroom. If there are any concerns regarding interpreter performance or conduct, please contact the Placement Coordinator immediately.
What to Expect From an Interpreter in Your Classroom
- To give a faithful rendition of the intended message
- To be a neutral party
- To be a resource for information regarding interpreting
- To be flexible
- To make switches with the other interpreter in a non-disruptive manner
- To keep confidence
- To be personable, without being overly friendly
- To abide by state and federal laws
- To prepare for interpretation by asking questions regarding lesson plans, schedules, field trips, guest speakers, etc.
- To abide by school rules, both formal and informal
- To be open to feedback and suggestions
- To conduct themselves in a professional manner
- To understand the developmental stages of children, as they pertain to the understanding of the role of the interpreter
What Not to Expect From an Interpreter in Your Classroom
- Comments, observations or opinions about the teacher candidate, university supervisor, cooperating teacher, or students
- Comments, observations or opinions about the experience of being Deaf (exception - cultural mediation)
- To act as an assistant
- To supervise the students or the teacher candidate
- To tell you what happened while you were gone
- To act as a tutor to the teacher candidate
- To engage in an abundance of personal interaction
- To act as a confidant
- To provide personal information about the teacher candidate
How to Help Interpreters in the Classroom
- Provide them with materials in advance so they can become familiar with the content and language of the lesson.
- Provide them with a seating chart that indicates students' names (and name signs, if assigned) so they can identify children by name.
- Speak or sign clearly so that the message is not ambiguous.
- Prepare interpreters by sharing important vocabulary (English or ASL) that will be used in the lesson.
- Share expectations for their work in the classroom (i.e., where they should stand, sit, move, etc...)
- Provide constructive feedback after a lesson or block so that they may better serve your needs in the classroom.
Section I Table of Contents Section III