FAQ

School boards and districts have different protocols when it comes to student teacher assignments. Check with your school principal to find out how this is done at your particular school board or district. For more information, call Mrs. McKissic in the Student Teaching Office at 716.286.8739.

Every student teacher and classroom teacher is different, and each has individual needs. Thus, the transition from student to teacher is an individual process arrived at through collaboration between the student teacher, the associate/cooperating teacher and, when necessary, the NU supervisor. 

All parties should agree that the transition suggested will create the best possible learning situation for the student teacher. The pace at which the student teacher is expected to assume a “full teaching schedule” depends on the capabilities and needs of the student teacher, as well as the best judgment of the classroom teacher. If the student teacher becomes overwhelmed, or under-challenged, the transition is most likely inappropriate. 

A short answer to this question is that student teacher should do as much as possible as soon as possible.

The student teacher supervisor, partnered with the cooperating/associate teacher and the host school, provides formative supervision of student teachers during their field experience. The supervisor is required to observe each student teacher teach a lesson a minimum of two times in each placement. During these visits, the supervisor conducts formative assessments of the student teacher’s ability to address NYS Standards/Ontario curriculum expectations. The supervisor mentors and supports student teachers to improve teaching and learning.

For undergraduate students, it’s a four year program. Student teachers do their student teaching during the fall or spring semester of their senior year. For graduate students, it’s a three semester program. Student teachers do their student teaching during the third semester.

The supervisor will complete an observation form during each of the four visits (two visits in each placement). However, the evaluation forms that the cooperating/associate teacher completes will for the most part determine the grade that the student teacher receives. The preliminary report and the midway report allow for intervention if things aren’t going as well as hoped for. The final report is the most important one of the three as it is based on the full seven weeks of the placement. The director of teacher education field experience (Mrs. McKissic) will assign the final grade of satisfactory or unsatisfactory based on all of the information at her disposal.

The expectation is for student teachers to follow the calendar of the school system to which they are assigned, except when they are required to attend professional seminars on campus. Professional activity days and other alternative activities that are scheduled during the student teacher’s placement are opportunities that student teachers should be able to experience.

We encourage student teachers to become involved in the school community. Opportunities to take an active role in extracurricular activities are something we support and encourage.

It would be wonderful if the principal had the time to observe the student teacher. However, we appreciate how busy principals are. Accordingly, we do not expect principals to observe student teachers. We encourage student teachers, at the very least, to introduce themselves to the principal as soon as the opportunity presents itself.

If a student teacher is absent during any part of their placement, it is very important that they notify the cooperating/associate teacher as soon as possible. If the student teacher has started teaching, the expectation is that the student teacher will provide lesson plans to the cooperating/associate teacher for the lessons that the student teacher will be unable to teach. We want the student teacher to handle this situation in the same way that any teacher would. 

It is also important that the student teacher notify his/her supervisor. If the absence is more than a day or two, the student teacher may have to provide a medical certificate and make up the time that is missed. This decision is made by the director of teacher education field experience (Mrs. McKissic) on a case by case basis.

We encourage student teachers to observe other teachers if time permits. Being able to observe other teachers will enhance the experience of the student teacher.

The expectation is for student teachers to wear neat, tailored clothing in accordance with standards set for teachers. Student teachers are about to enter a very noble profession, one that involves the responsibility of guiding young lives to their optimum.

It’s important to look the part of a professional. Student teachers are expected to conduct themselves in a professional manner at all times. They need to extend basic courtesy and respect toward school administrators, teachers, staff, students and the school community. 

Student teachers must refrain from making unfavorable remarks about the host school, the university program, and/or the community.

Student teachers are expected to write detailed lesson plans for each lesson that they teach. Lesson plans should be submitted to the cooperating/associate teacher in time for feedback and approval. The exact amount of time needed for feedback and approval is something that the student teacher and the cooperating/associate must discuss and agree upon at the beginning of the placement.

The suggested format can be found in the handbook. However, the student teacher can use another format, if mutually agreed upon in consultation with the cooperating/associate teacher and the supervisor.

The expectation is that cooperating/associate teachers be in the room while the student teacher is teaching the class. To provide feedback to the student teacher, it is necessary that the cooperating/associate teacher observe the student teacher.

Also, it is important to remember that the cooperating/associate teacher is ultimately responsible for everything that happens in the classroom. If there was an incident while the student teacher was alone in the classroom, it would be the responsibility of the cooperating/associate teacher to deal with the consequences of the incident.

Classroom management is an important skill for student teachers to develop. The best way to learn is by doing.  So, it would be most effective to allow student teachers to handle inappropriate behaviour themselves and then to discuss the situation with the student teacher afterwards. However, if the safety of the students is compromised by something that occurs in the classroom and the student teacher is not sure what to do, then, by all means intervene. This should be a very rare occurrence.

Regular feedback is an essential component of the student teaching experience. While observing the lesson, make notes. Record strengths and weaknesses and appropriate solutions to situations that arise. Provide the student teacher with written feedback regularly. If it isn’t possible to meet after the class, then schedule a conference at the end of the day or at a prep time. We encourage cooperating/associate teachers to use the de-briefing template on pages 35-37 in the handbook 2-3 times a week.

If the cooperating/associate teacher is absent, the student teacher can teach the lesson, as long as they have been in the placement long enough to be comfortable doing so. However, there should be another teacher in the room (a supply teacher or an on call teacher) who would assume the responsibility of the cooperating/associate teacher.

If you are a Canadian associate teacher, please contact Shannon Stott at 716.286.8738 or sstott@niagara.edu.

If you are a U.S. cooperating teacher, please contact Mary Kinney at 716.286.8560 or mkinney@niagara.edu

All evaluation reports will be submitted to the Office of Field Experience electronically. Candidates must receive hard copies of all written reports. Candidates are responsible for providing Field Supervisors with hard copies of all three reports.

 

Preliminary Report

The Preliminary Report is completed after the first 5 days of the Candidate’s placement in a classroom by the Cooperating/Associate Teacher. It is an early assessment of the Candidate’s observable dispositions toward teaching, specifically in the areas of Professional Commitment/Responsibility, Professional Relationships/Fairness, and Critical Thinking and Reflective Practice. The Preliminary Report provides an opportunity for the candidate to focus on his/her dispositional professional growth as a teacher. In a working definition, dispositions are described as tendencies for individuals to act in a particular manner under particular circumstances. A tendency implies a pattern of behavior that is predictive of future actions. This predictive feature gives some assurance that, once Candidates assume the formal role of teachers, their practices will be in keeping with those dispositions (Villegas, 2007). In the Preliminary Report, it is recognized that the Cooperating/Associate Teacher is viewing a beginner and has had limited time to become fully acquainted with the Candidate. Niagara University is interested in the Teacher’s first impressions, within the first 5 days of the Candidate’s placement.  

 

Mid-Way Progress Report

Both Cooperating/Associate Teacher and Teacher Candidate complete a Mid-Way Progress Report independently after 3-4 weeks of the placement.  They then meet to discuss their individual perceptions of the Candidate’s progress up to this mid-point of Student Teaching. The Mid-Way Progress Report provides a timely opportunity for both the C/A Teacher and Candidate to specifically identify areas of strength and areas where improvement is required in the Candidate’s performance, and for the Candidate to determine a focused growth plan for the latter weeks of the placement during which time expectations and demands will rise substantially as the Candidate moves  toward the end of the placement. The Mid-Way Progress Report is focused on the Candidate’s understanding and mastery of the required standards.

 

Final Student Teaching Report

The Final Student Teaching Report is completed by the Cooperating/Associate Teacher during the last week of the Candidate’s placement.  The Final evaluation is a compilation and summary of the Candidate’s demonstrated degree of competency in the knowledge, skills, and dispositions associated with the professional standards, and an overall assessment of the Candidate’s readiness as a beginning classroom teacher. The Candidate receives a Satisfactory or Unsatisfactory grade on the Final Report. There is a place on the Final Report for relevant comments from the Cooperating/Associate Teacher that support the professional recommendation. Comments are helpful in the final overall grading that the Candidate receives from the Director of Teacher Education Field Experience.

It is okay to have more than one cooperating/associate teacher work with an individual student teacher. In most cases when this occurs, the experience of the student teacher is enhanced by the opportunity to work with more than one cooperating/associate teacher.

The evaluation reports can be completed by the original cooperating/associate teacher, with input from the other cooperating/associate teacher(s).

Another approach would be for each cooperating/associate teacher to complete their own evaluation report. 

Extra copies of the three evaluation reports can be downloaded from the myNU website. Or, the field supervisor can provide extra copies.

If the placement is not going as well as hoped for, contact the field supervisor and/or Mrs. McKissic (the director of teacher education field experience) at 716.286.8739. It is important to do this as soon as possible, so that something can be done to make the placement a more positive experience for the student teacher.