Standard 3: Field Experiences and Clinical Practice
The unit and its school partners design, implement, and evaluate field experiences and clinical practice so that teacher candidates and other school personnel develop and demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and dispositions necessary to help all students learn.
A Sense of Our Past. From their arrival in 1857, the Benedictine women and men who founded the monastic communities that would later establish our two colleges took on the ministry of teaching the territory’s newly arriving population of German immigrants. While the brothers at nearby Saint John’s Abbey established their preparatory school for young men, the Sisters of Saint Benedict were called throughout Minnesota to provide instruction in parish schools. Realizing the importance of their ministry,
Women religious took seriously their educational role as it affected student learning and the sisters’ own intellectual growth. From the very beginning of their ministry in Minnesota, sisters endeavored to augment their own education in order to ensure the continued improvement of their teaching in the schools. As regularly as night follows day, mentoring sessions occurred in the community rooms of convents everywhere in Minnesota. Between evening recreation and night prayer, the day’s last activity in common, sister-teachers were busy grading students’ papers, preparing or revising lesson plans, or studying material to be used in teaching. Night after night sisters helped one another to prepare the next day’s lessons and exchanged ideas about the most effective ways of fostering the intellectual development of their students
(Raiche and Biermaier, 1994, pp. 36-37).
When in 1869 Minnesota established licensure of teachers through examination by county school superintendents, Sister Josepha Wictor, OSB, became in 1876 the first teacher of many from the Saint Joseph community who would be licensed (Raiche and Biermaier, p. 40). When Minnesota required completion of a training program for licensure in 1913, the monastery responded with formal instruction in the art and emerging science of teaching. Two years after the Sisters of Saint Benedict founded the College of Saint Benedict in 1913 they opened a normal school to formally prepare teachers. In the years ahead Benedictine sisters from this community would attend colleges and universities in ever greater numbers to sustain their teaching ministry. “By 1968, 457 Sisters of Saint Benedict, Saint Joseph, had acquired bachelor’s, masters, or doctoral degrees” (p.116). These early teachers marked the pathway that we would later follow toward accreditation by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education in 1960.
Element 1: Collaboration between Unit and School Partners
During those early years the College of Saint Benedict’s Education Department, the ancestor of today’s jointly sponsored department, maintained a strong relationship with the neighboring Saint Joseph Laboratory School. Founded in 1862, this elementary school was for a time a “district” or quasi-public school managed by a lay school board but staffed by religious women. It became a parish school in 1914 with the demise of Minnesota’s district schools. As our first school “partner,” the Lab School, now Saint Joseph Catholic School, would become one of the unit’s primary practice teaching sites for elementary candidates prepared in those early years.
Steady growth in the number of college students seeking licensure and an increasing need for more field and clinical sites encouraged formation of informal relationships with several area schools, many staffed by sisters. While unit faculty secured sites as needed, the absence of formal agreements limited the roles that these schools and their professional teachers might consider in the preparation of the unit’s candidates. New perspectives emerging in the 1980’s on the role of structured field experience in the preparation of teachers encouraged the unit to increase candidates’ work in area schools.
When in 1998 Minnesota adopted new licensure rules that required clinical teaching experiences in middle level classrooms for both elementary and secondary candidates, the need for new fieldwork and clinical sites encouraged pursuit of a different approach. The unit’s commitment to developing a strong middle level learner curriculum in support of this change in licensure increased the need for more middle schools that would provide candidates with meaningful field and clinical experiences. Growing competition among teacher preparation programs for available middle level placements further encouraged the development of a process leading to formal agreements with area schools. The unit’s collaboration with middle school teachers during the design of its middle level curriculum further encouraged a new approach to working with area schools.
The unit negotiated its first formal school partnership agreements in 2000 that explicitly specified benefits for both the unit and its middle school partners. The unit invited one of its staff members, Jeanne Cofell, to devise a formal process of partnership reflecting then emerging standards for professional development schools offered by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education. Reading widely in this area to gain a sense of how other small liberal arts colleges might have formed and benefited from such relationships, she also interviewed area educators to learn more about how the unit could share in their mission. Cofell tempered ideas gleaned from her review of the professional development school movement with her experience negotiating field experience placements with area schools. The result was a unique approach to defining and evaluating relationships with K-12 schools that is based in mutually beneficial outcomes reflecting each partner’s respective needs and resources.
In 2000 the unit’s faculty approved its Partnership Plan as a guide to the formation of productive relationships with area schools and agencies until 2005. Three phases guided pursuit of this plan. During Phase One, now largely completed, the unit developed relationships on one of three levels. Formal collaborations emerged as intentional and mutually beneficial collaborations designed to further the mission of participating institutions. Schools in collaborative partnerships with the unit share in the design and review of curricular experiences and participate as members in the unit’s Teacher Education Advisory Council. Cooperative relationships describe formal but less extensive alliances with those schools seeking a meaningful yet less demanding role. Networking associations describe the unit’s formal but limited connections with programs within our two colleges or in our larger community to capitalize on shared use limited resources to accomplish mutually beneficial ends (Williams, 1997). Many of the unit’s prospective candidates complete service learning experiences as tutors, coaches, or educational aides with social service or educational agencies secured through networking agreements.
The number of placements provided for the unit’s candidates suggests one dimension of the success the unit enjoys in its effort to encourage productive relationships with our educational partners. In the past year more than 150 schools and agencies provided 329 placements for prospective candidates to observe classes, tutor students, or assist teachers during their Tier One field experiences. Those schools and agencies also provided 822 Tier Two placements for candidates in methods courses. Selected schools supported 170 Tier Three clinical placements for those of our candidates completing their student teaching (Partnership Progress Report, Attachment G).
As our work with our school partners moves us into Phase Two of our Partnership Plan, formal assessment of our relationships and informal feedback from our partners will help us find new ways to enhance the benefits of our shared relationships. In a national and state climate confronting schools with new demands balanced against reduced fiscal support and fewer well-prepared new teachers in some licensure areas, the value of our relationships with area schools is increasing. We will continue to invest our limited resources in our school and community partners’ faculty development and curricular renewal. Phase Two activities might thus include joint pursuit of private or government grant money to enhance our partner’s K-12 education and, consequently, the experiences enjoyed by our candidates. In the years ahead we will add elements to an evolving Phase Three that will respond to the continued monitoring of early agreements or understandings with partner institutions to insure that our maturing relationships continue to meet the evolving needs of the unit as well as those of our partner schools and community agencies.
The evolution of this most important facet of the unit’s program is revealed in the ways that the unit’s faculty work with teachers and community agency leaders to plan and effect meaningful field experiences at each curricular tier.
All who seek preparation for teaching will enroll in Teaching and Learning in a Diverse World (Education 111) during their first year. This Tier One course places prospective candidates in an educational setting with at-risk K-12 students where they will complete 30 hours of supervised service learning. During the past academic year 171 prospective candidates completed thirty or more hours in educational roles for the many area agencies, including the Saint Cloud Boys and Girls Clubs’ after school Kid Stop programs, the Saint Joseph Catholic School’s Study Buddy program, and the Colleges’ Fast Forward program.
Professor Andert, one of the unit’s instructors who developed this introductory course, works directly with the colleges’ Service Learning Department to cooperatively identify appropriate agencies and sites. As an associate partner striving with the unit to realize compatible goals, Service Learning staff members take responsibility for preparing site managers to assess prospective candidates’ work using standards-based performance assessments and monitor the site and candidates placed there. Unit faculty integrate college students’ service learning experiences into their courses throughout the semester, responding to concerns such as learning styles, gender issues, and cultural diversity or behavior management. Prospective candidates enrolled in this course complete a standards-based service learning reflection paper at the conclusion of their service learning commitment documenting what they learned. Service Learning staff also complete an assessment of all who participated in service learning and invite site managers to campus for a review of their service learning experiences with participating college students. Service Learning staff work with the unit’s Partnership Coordinator to select each semester’s placements for those agencies requesting support. Those who complete this course provide site manager’s performance assessments in support of their application for candidacy.
Field experiences provided for accepted candidates enrolled in the unit’s Tier Two or “methods courses,” adapted to fit the needs of area schools, reveal the qualities of the unit’s collaborative partnerships. Elementary candidates enrolled in Mathematics Pedagogy K-6 (Education 325) work closely with educators at Saint Boniface Elementary in nearby Cold Spring as they meet with their hosts to plan a unit of instruction coordinated with the scope and sequence of the math class during the week they will be in residence. Candidates contribute their zeal for teaching and their emerging understanding of how to teach mathematics to children in a supportive setting where experienced instructors guide and shape their teaching of an instructional unit, judge its effectiveness, and mentor candidates as they continue their preparation for licensure. Supported by their principal, host teachers at Saint Boniface are significantly involved in the development of this field experience, providing much of its structure, modeling teaching techniques, and offering daily reviews of candidates’ teaching. The unit provides its partner with instructional materials and supplies in support of these candidates. The unit’s instructor, Professor Knaus, an experienced elementary educator with advanced preparation in mathematics, gathers advice from host teachers and candidates to strengthen this field experience so as to meet the needs of all stakeholders.
All secondary (5-12) and elementary (K-6/5-8) candidates will complete one of the unit’s four Tier Two Mid-Level Literacy and Pedagogy (Education 358) courses that is appropriate for their licensure program. Candidates preparing to teach middle level learners in Communication Arts and Literature, for example, will share similar opportunities to learn from their observation and participation in field work experiences designed to meet their needs, the unit’s expectations, and the needs of Saint Cloud’s South Junior High School, one of our oldest collaborative partners. The length and focus of placements is tailored to enable each candidate to experience the daily routines of the classroom, including managing students and planning and delivering instruction in a fluid environment that requires constant decision-making.
As candidates in this course near the time of their residency, the school’s principal visits the class to welcome candidates as he describes the school, its staff and curriculum, and its students. As he describes the school’s philosophy of middle school instruction, he explains the school’s daily schedule and highlights the importance of the team teaching approach that is one of South’s signal qualities. His presentation provides an important conceptual foundation for the goals the school seeks to achieve as it extends candidates’ knowledge base about middle schools before they begin their work at South.
With information about the candidates who will participate in this field experience, South’s principal draws on his keen understanding of what his middle school can provide to prepare an agenda for the week-long residency that will enable them to observe all facets of his school’s programs. Candidates observe teachers in all content areas. They are placed in different classrooms each day so that they can see a range of teaching styles, classroom management techniques, and different patterns of student behavior. As candidates continue their field work, the course instructor, Professor Borka, is present in the school to observe candidates and visit with host teachers about the materials and methods that they are using.
Together with our collaborating school partners, our cooperating partners enrich the unit’s Tier Three clinical experiences by opening their schools and committing their experienced faculty to mentor our candidates during their student teaching experiences. Placement in clinical sites follows a general pattern that begins with candidates requesting school districts where they would like to complete their clinical experiences from a list of cooperating schools. Secondary candidates, who as majors in other departments have not worked with as many of the unit’s faculty, are interviewed by the Director of K-12 / 5-12 Secondary Student Teaching to review their requested clinical sites in light of their perceived needs and strengths. Requests for placement from elementary level candidates, who as majors in the program are better known by the unit’s faculty, are similarly reviewed by Director of Elementary Student Teaching.
When their review is complete, candidates’ applications are forwarded to school principals or district placement officers for their consideration. If the district agrees to accept a candidate, placement in classroom will follow district and school policy to identify cooperating teachers from their schools’ faculty who meet the unit’s guidelines for clinical faculty and who are best able to respond to the needs and strengths revealed in candidates’ applications. Experienced K-12 teachers who are nominated by their school or district administrators as clinical faculty are then reviewed by the unit’s student teaching directors. When a nominated teacher might not be an ideal match for a candidate’s needs, further negotiation will often result in a new nomination or a new placement site.
Candidates seeking elementary level Minnesota licensure must be placed in a K-6 elementary school and in a grade 5-8 middle or junior high school. A placement in one of the lower grades will encourage their practice as kindergarten through grade six elementary generalists for an eight-week residency. A related clinical experience, also eight weeks long, allows candidates to teach their “specialty” subject to students enrolled in grades five through eight. The unit prepares elementary candidates to teach specialties in communication arts and literature, science, mathematics, social studies, or world languages and cultures.
Placements for candidates preparing for secondary 5-12 licensure will also require two eight-week clinical experiences. Secondary level candidates teach students enrolled in grades nine through twelve in their major area of expertise during one rotation. All must complete a second clinical experience in their areas of licensure with students in grades five to eight. Candidates preparing for a K-12 license in music, world language (French, German, or Spanish), and visual arts will also be placed in two classroom settings, one enrolling students in grades nine through twelve and a second rotation teaching either grades kindergarten through six in an elementary school or grades five through eight in a middle school.
With needed sites and clinical faculty identified, candidates take their final step by joining the faculty of their host school on the first day of the term of their residence when they meet their cooperating teachers if they have not already done so. They follow a process outlined in their respective student teaching handbooks to negotiate their roles with their cooperating teachers, thus beginning their clinical experience. The dimensions of that experience are carefully monitored by the candidate, his or her cooperating teacher, the college supervising teacher employed by the unit and assigned to that candidate, and by the candidate’s student teaching director.
Element 2: Design, Implementation, and Evaluation of Field Experiences and Clinical Practice
Candidates’ successful clinical experiences are founded in part on increasingly structured field experiences that are designed to support and extend classroom learning. That foundation begins with exploratory service learning and observing in Tier One as candidates discern their call to teaching and continues through pedagogically focused teaching and observing in Tier Two methods courses. The following table briefly notes these experiences.
Note: Students in all curricular areas are required to complete all Tier I experiences.
The field experiences briefly noted in Tables III.3.1 and III.3.2 are designed to involve all prospective candidates for licensure in active observation and, when appropriate, direct participation in their Tier One foundations classroom settings. These pre-acceptance field experiences and the standards-based reflection integrated with them help potential candidates learn more about their roles as teachers through service as teaching assistants. Serving children in educational settings encourages further discernment of the strength of their call to the profession.
While first year college students who enroll in Teaching and Learning in a Diverse World (Education 111) have limited opportunities to test their nascent understanding of teaching, their service learning experience is focused on growth in their personal understanding of the role of patience, organization, motivation, determination, and reflection in the life of a teacher. These are qualities that will also prove indispensable for their successful candidacy should they persist in their pursuit of that goal. Guided by tenets of our conceptual framework, review of their final standards-based reflective essays will witness the personal growth and insight that many of these college students draw from their field work for this course, often with at risk K-12 learners.
Second year prospective candidates for elementary level licensure enrolling Clinical Experience: Elementary Education (Education 212) realize rich and varied experiences as teachers in host K-8 classrooms encourage them to “test their wings” by tutoring, teaching small groups, and instructing the larger class in the area of the future teacher’s specialty. These pre-acceptance field experiences take place in two settings. Area schools host college students for two hours daily during their two week residencies, closely guided by an experienced classroom teacher. A second field experience immerses prospective candidates for a week-long (five days, 8 hours daily) residency in an inner city classroom, once again under the close supervision of an experienced classroom teacher. All teach as they are able and willing so as to increase their understanding of the demands teachers must meet in highly diverse urban settings. In each experience the teacher candidates are given specific assignments as to what they should observe, the tasks they should complete, and the focus of their standards-based reflections.
As this pre-acceptance field experience evolved during the past three years, area school principals, the unit’s partnership coordinator, Jeanne Cofell, and the college faculty member serving as prospective candidates’ supervisor, Sister Ann Marie Biermaier, worked together to select K-8 faculty who were capable and committed to working with youth discerning their commitment to becoming teachers. They formally prepare these experienced school faculty members for their roles as mentors and supervisors. The unit provides on-going summer in-service opportunities to which these field experience faculty and their school peers are invited. Annual evaluation of our collaborative relationships with these school partners reveals areas of strength as well as needed improvements.
All Tier Two pedagogy courses include a variety of field experiences that add practice in teaching standards-derived skills, concepts and principles to individual students, small groups, and to all enrolled in the candidates’ host classes. Those opportunities are structured to encourage application and reflection on content, professional, and pedagogical knowledge. Candidates are further guided in their reflection on the values inherent in those realms of knowledge, considering how such values influence their own and others behaviors in observed settings. Field work for elementary level candidates enrolled in Reading, Writing, and Language Growth (Education 347), for example, includes an initial visit with an area teacher to discuss themes and expectations for their subsequent investment of six, seventy-minute observations during which they will assist that teacher as required. These candidates later develop and teach three lessons exploring themes identified by their classroom teachers. Candidates also administer five authentic assessments, such as anecdotal logs, interest interviews, reading interviews, handwriting observations, and running records. They will search for patterns describing learners’ strengths and weaknesses in the information offered by each assessment. Candidates use this information to devise a “literacy plan” for one student in their classes. Drawing on recommended literacy practices, candidates describe how the student’s family should be informed of the plan and how family members might support the learner.
Professor Moore, who developed this course, invites and selects experienced classroom teachers who are committed to developing and using “best practices” in teaching reading and writing to join her in guiding the development of these candidates. Those who do so evaluate candidates’ effectiveness in developing age-appropriate lessons, communicating their intentions to students, developing rapport with those students, and their professional demeanor. These experienced master teachers, as members of Moore’s “literacy cadre” for this course, meet at least annually to examine the outcomes of the course and suggest revisions to strengthen candidates’ experiences teaching reading and writing.
Secondary social studies candidates join those of their elementary peers who are pursuing social studies as their grade 5-8 specialty for Mid-Level Literacy and Pedagogy in Social Studies (Education 358). Using Minnesota’s pedagogically focused Standards of Effective Practice for Teachers (MSEPT) as a context for teaching social studies, Professor Spring draws on the National Council for the Social Studies’ recommended classroom standards and those recently promulgated by Minnesota’s Legislature for our state’s K-12 learners to illustrate the range of content and pedagogical standards guiding teaching practices in this complex licensure area. Candidates in this course join with their peers in other content-focused “mid-level literacy” courses to plan, develop, deliver, and assess a “culture fair” exploring the history, geography, economics, arts, foods, and people of a nation or region that will support the curriculum of two or more of the unit’s educational partners. In recent years South Junior High and Saint John’s Preparatory School accepted the unit’s invitation to participate in this one-half day, multi-faceted learning event. This unusual field experience requires our candidates to acquire new subject matter knowledge and to efficiently organize it to fit both limited time and middle level learners’ development. It serves as a prelude for candidates’ week-long period of observation and participation with grade level teaching teams at South Junior High. That more intensive experience encourages candidates to acquire and refine information about middle schools and their students within the context of social studies instruction. Using the unit’s conceptual framework as their guide, candidates weigh alternatives as they determine the focus of lessons, learners’ probable developmental stages, and useful performance assessments. Like all other candidates enrolled in the unit’s licensure-focused Mid-Level Literacy and Pedagogy courses, these future social studies teachers create internet-based web sites documenting their learning as they also advance their skills in using instructional technology.
Professor Borka’s Mid-Level Literacy and Pedagogy (Education 358) offers secondary and those elementary candidates preparing for a Language Arts and Literature licensure several structured opportunities to contrast what they have learned in their content area courses and educational foundations courses with what they have experienced as observers and teachers in field settings. Such comparisons extend their emerging philosophy of education into the realm of their chosen discipline. Candidates use their individual web sites to capture their experiences as they observe and teach in those settings, recording their guided observations and journal entries. At the end of their week-long residencies they summarize what they noticed, what challenged them, what moved them, and how their time in that school informs their future teaching practice. They begin to consider how a teacher’s style and instructional choices affect the classroom environment and students’ learning. Through their reflections, candidates are deciding on the type of teachers they do, and do not, wish to become. They wonder why teachers aren’t doing everything discussed in class, and why class discussions might not address everything that the teachers are doing. They see good teaching that they want to replicate, and some teaching behaviors that they prefer to avoid. Throughout this field experience and its aftermath, candidates question and consider, comparing what they experience to who they might become as teachers. Candidates reflect on the MSEPT’s addressed through each experience. They relate their own interactions with students and the choices that they see teachers make to the guidance offered by these standards. The “why’s and how’s” of teaching become clearer as they see teachers work with these abstract principles in classrooms.
Unit and field site faculty are encouraged to model teaching practices that reflect the needs of all learners. While the unit’s conceptual framework guides the design and assessment of these field experiences, K-12 faculty in field experience sites often evidence less objective knowledge of its facets but not its overall value for guiding teaching practice. Within the limits of conflicting schedules, candidates are expected to participate as fully as possible in the events of the schools in which their field experiences occur.
Candidates serving in Tier Three clinical experiences respond to structured teaching settings with very clear expectations and significant sanctions to help them more fully enjoy the transition from college student to professional educator. Most make that transition with reasonable grace. Elementary level candidates begin their clinical work with structured observations of their first clinical setting which supports their critical, written reflection on each of eighteen characteristics of their host schools. During their student teaching, these reflections encourage integration of pedagogical, professional, and content knowledge, skills, and values. Candidates select five detailed lesson plans to place in their portfolios for each of their two clinical settings, annotated with guided self-reflection on 13 key questions. One of those questions focuses on elementary candidates use of technology to learn about the content of their teaching, respond to students’ individual differences, promote critical thinking, enhance their classroom teaching, increase student participation, support learner expression, help with assessment, keep class records, and communicate with staff and students’ guardians. Candidates also complete an analysis of two videotaped teaching episodes. All candidates assess, record and analyze indicators of their students’ learning to complete their teacher work samples.
Candidates’ clinical experiences are rotated to provide opportunities to teach both as generalists with elementary students (K-6) and specialists teaching middle level learners (grades 5 through 8) in their specialty subject. They often begin their clinical work by observing their class, then working with students individually or in small groups to know them better. As they gain skill and confidence, elementary candidates will move from teaching one subject to teaching full time as the rotation concludes. Weekly reviews with their cooperating teachers are aligned with unit and state standards. A summative review completed at the end of each rotation by candidates’ college supervisor, a master teacher selected and prepared by the unit to support candidates and their classroom cooperating teachers, incorporates these weekly performance reviews and candidates’ portfolio assignments.
Secondary candidates (5-12 / K-12) follow a similar pattern. Following guidelines included in their student teaching handbooks, both candidates and their cooperating teachers plan the outline of the student teaching experience to welcome the candidate into the classroom and school. Lesson plans are required for each teaching day. Those plans must be submitted for review by the candidates’ college supervisor one week prior to their date of intended use. All candidates also complete a set of fifteen assignments designed to help them learn more about their host schools, including affirming their opportunities to use technology in their teaching. As candidates become more fully integrated into the school and teaching team, the supervising teacher will continue to review lesson plans, but may do so with less intensity. Over time, candidates evolve a stronger sense of professional autonomy as they develop plans to encourage their learners’ success.
Professional knowledge is acquired and refined during a typical 5-12 / K-12 clinical experience. Where teaching teams are used, candidates become team members. They serve their host schools in a variety of ways outside the boundaries of their classrooms, volunteering as would fully licensed teachers to monitor sports events, dances, and other extracurricular activities. Many are invited to assist with coaching should that role prove to be among their interests. The unit’s cherished conceptual model guides cooperating teachers as they uses its elements to formulate their written and oral reviews of candidates’ teaching performance. Those reviews are also anchored in national, state and unit standards as presented within the context of “Teacher as Decision-Maker” in performance profiles for secondary candidates.
Observation of candidates’ performance and analysis of those observations informally occurs daily for most candidates. Candidates meet with their cooperating teachers (clinical faculty) each week to review those observations and plan for improved performance. The unit asks its cooperating teachers to formatively assess candidates at least four times during an eight week rotation and to provide a summative assessment at its conclusion. The unit’s college supervisors observe and reflect on their assigned candidates’ performances at least three times during each of two eight week “rotations” during student teaching or more often as required. Supervisors offer a summative review at the conclusion of each rotation and again at the end of the clinical experience. This final review forms the basis for candidates’ performance profiles.
Element 3: Candidates’ Development and Demonstration of Knowledge, Skills, and Dispositions to Help All Students Learn
Review of candidates’ preparation for student teaching includes verification of having met all unit requirements prior to requesting clinical placement. Content, foundation, and methodology experiences and their related field experiences provide candidates with opportunities to know, apply, and to be assessed on the knowledge, skills, and values required of them by the unit, state, and professional standards. Failure to maintain minimum expected grade point averages in their majors (2.5), in their education courses (2.5), and in their Core Curriculum courses (2.5), failure to complete required remedial work, or failure to perform as expected during field experiences associated with methods courses would encourage denial of their request. An unresolved faculty concern could also encourage delay or denial of candidates’ acceptance for student teaching. Informal consultations between the unit’s Directors of Student Teaching and faculty can reveal additional concerns about a candidate’s performance that may hinder acceptance until resolved.
Performance standards defining necessary knowledge, skills, and values shape the formative evaluations offered by cooperating and supervising teachers during clinical experiences as well as a summative review of candidates at the conclusion of their sixteen weeks of student teaching. The summative performance profiles that college supervising teachers use to organize their overall review of each candidate are aligned with the same standards. The Unit Assessment System (2001) offers information on the use of these descriptive profiles. The information they provide forms the basis for the unit’s defense of candidates’ knowledge for teaching.
Elementary Candidates (K-6 / 5-8) clinical settings can expect to be assessed in multiple ways focused on multiple dimensions of their performance aligned with relevant state and institutional standards. An examination of the units’ Elementary Student Teaching Handbook (2005) will reveal opportunities to offer formative assessment on teaching performance, lesson plans, unit plans, videotaped lessons, and observations by cooperating and supervising teachers.
College supervisors’ summative assessments of their candidates are drawn from analysis of structured classroom observations, a required family unit, candidates’ use of technology, candidates’ reflections on their use of the Minnesota Standards of Effective Practice for Teachers, five lesson plans with documentation from each of two eight week rotations, bulletin boards, and cooperating teacher’s standards-based assessments of weekly performance. All assessments are linked to the unit’s conceptual model and aligned with state and unit standards describing the knowledge, skills, and values that novice teachers should reveal through their performance. Most of these assessments make use of explicit, performance-based, behaviorally anchored performance criteria. Judgments are shared with candidates for their review and recorded in the standards-based performance profile.
Secondary level candidates (5-12 / K-12) are also assessed in multiple ways and on multiple performance dimensions during formative review. A review of their Secondary Student Teaching Handbook (2005) suggests that candidates’ performance will be formally observed by their cooperating teachers on at least four occasions during each of the two eight week clinical rotations using formal, behaviorally-based protocols, although they are encouraged to informally observe and review candidates as often as would prove helpful. These candidates will also be observed at least three times by their college supervisor during each of the two eight week rotations. Candidates must complete reflective analyses of their teaching after each observation. Supervising teachers must also review their candidates’ daily lesson plans.
Candidates seeking 5-12 or K-12 licensure will complete interviews with personnel at their clinical sites (6), observations of their cooperating teachers (2), observations of other teachers in their host school (3), analysis of school policies (2), observations of a troublesome student in their host classrooms (1), reviews of special services available for the host school’s students (2), visit with the media center staff to discover their clinical site’s technological capabilities (2), profiles of students enrolled at each site (2), two self-critiqued videotaped lessons, and daily reflective practice journal entries followed by a journal summary of their contribution to improved practice. These assignments offer several vantage points from which to review candidates’ clinical experiences. College supervisors weave results of these reflections and assessments into a comprehensive review of candidates’ practice. Overall performance ratings for these 5-12 / K-12 candidates reflect their cooperating teachers’ final survey of teaching performance in each clinical rotation balanced with their college supervisor’s summative review of their teaching performance in those rotations. Formal review of candidates’ clinical experiences, conducted by their college supervisors and cooperating teachers, provide a forum for sharing summative judgments.
Review of the handbooks guiding the development of K-6/5-8 and the 5-12 / K-12 clinical experiences affirms that formative performance review is intended to result from candidates’ collaboration with their cooperating teachers. The 5-12 / K-12 handbook for cooperating teachers makes this expectation clear with a statement of expectations and supporting guidance for clinical faculty to consider. The design of the weekly evaluation form, to be completed by the cooperating teacher and reviewed by the candidate, increases the probability of collaborative performance reviews. Candidates are encouraged to view each other’s classroom performance when more than one student teacher is assigned to the same site.
Placements for both elementary and secondary candidates are selected whenever possible to provide opportunities to work with students from diverse backgrounds and exceptionalities, a goal reached more often as more of Minnesota’s schools enroll diverse K-12 students. Directors of student teaching consider all of a candidate’s needs and strengths as they identify and secure optimal placements. When a placement offering opportunities for growth is especially important for a candidate, directors will endeavor to make placements that address that need. Candidates’ performance profiles include dimensions related to teaching diverse learners that are used to describe all candidates’ performance on this dimension without regard to the setting in which they complete their residency.
Failure Rate. During the past academic year, the unit recommended 45 elementary level candidates (K-6/5-8) for licensure by Minnesota’s Board of Teaching, 9 at the close of the fall 2004 semester and 36 in May of 2005. The unit also prepared and recommended 11 secondary level candidates (5-12 / K-12) for licensure in December 2004 and 31 in May 2005 for a total of 32 during the year. One secondary candidate was not recommended for licensure pending submission of revised portfolio assignments judged as deficient.
During the past three years a total of four candidates, two at the elementary level and two at the secondary, were not recommended. Two candidates, one at each level, successfully completed student teaching but did not correct deficient performance in supporting courses required for their licensure. One K-6/5-8 candidate withdrew after successfully completing the first rotation for personal reasons, while one 5-12 candidate was removed after completing the first rotation for failure to perform.
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Education department partnership plan. (2000-2005). Saint Joseph, MN.: College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University.
Powell, R., Zehm, S., & Garcia, J. (1996). Field experience: Strategies for exploring diversity in schools. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall.
Raiche, A and Biermaier, A. (1994). They came to teach. Saint Cloud, MN.: NorthStar Press.
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Revised July 31, 2005