During their time at MSU, teacher candidates work with and learn from different kinds of teacher educators in many different contexts. Some are school- and community-based mentor teachers; some are course instructors of MSU courses the candidate takes on campus or in school sites; and some are university-based clinical educators or “field instructors” that support the intern’s and mentor’s work together in schools. These educators, in their different but complementary roles, provide the network of support and backbone of our field-based learning mission and are the basis for successful professional learning experiences for teacher candidates while in the field.
Teacher Candidate Support Networks
Candidates’ most important learning experiences come from their work in schools and other field-based sites, and their relationships with their mentors in those sites. The field instructor and course instructors support this relationship, to help interns learn from their experiences in thoughtful and productive ways. MSU-based program leaders and site-based school administrators work together to provide support for the work of teacher candidates and teacher educators, through mutually benefical partnerships.
- Plan for their work with teacher candidates
- Provide teacher candidates with appropriate and engaging learning activities, and support interns in achieving the goals of those activities
- Communicate with others in the network about candidate progress
- Participate in the collection of evidence of candidate achievement, the use of that evidence to improve teacher educator practice, and in helping candidates learn to monitor their own growth
- Learn from each other about being teacher educators
Working with Interns
About the Internship
The Teacher Preparation Program is built on the assertion that interns do not learn from experience alone, but through experience in combination with careful preparation, good mentoring, discussions with peers and colleagues, and well-designed courses. The internship year is characterized by sustained connections among teacher candidates, MSU instructors, and practicing teachers in partner schools.
Becoming an Intern Year Mentor
Intern-year coordinators begin the internship placement process in December of the previous year by renewing relationships with existing school and district partners and reassessing needs for the coming year. New partnerships are forged in January as needed, in conversations between MSU program coordinators and district and school administrators.
Applications for teachers in identified district and school partners are made available in late January or early February, through the administrators in those partner sites. Intern placement arrangements proceed throughout the late winter and spring on timelines negotiated by districts and MSU coordinators. As much as possible, we strive to complete the internship placement process by the end of the MSU academic year, typically around May 1.
Tentative placements are arranged by MSU coordinators after consultation with school and district leaders. Initial interviews take place between prospective mentors and prospective interns. Following the interviews, placements are confirmed and mentors and interns make plans for the start of the school year. Interns report to schools whenever teachers must report, and participate in pre-school professional activities to prepare for the first day with students.
Learning to Mentor an Intern
Mentoring an aspiring teacher is both a challenging and rewarding experience. We know that people bring strengths to teaching, but no one is born an expert teacher. In similar ways, people bring strengths to the work of mentoring but no one is born an expert. In the internship year especially, using explicit strategies for providing structure and support for teacher candidate learning is a key to the success of the year for both candidates and mentors. Mentors in the internship year access resources, attend meetings and professional development, and work with MSU field instructors to learn to be mentors for their teacher candidates. Becoming an intern-year mentor is a form of teacher leadership that many teachers find rewarding and renewing, providing new opportunities to learn and grow as they mature in their role as classroom teachers. In addition, most ISDs/RESAs sponsor SCECHs for teachers in their counties who participate in this form of professional development. Intern year mentors should contact their ISDs/RESAs after confirming the placement but before the start of the internship year if they are interested in obtaining SCECHs for their work as mentors.
All teacher educators, including mentors, play a vital role in the assessment of interns. MSU field instructors, mentor teachers and interns work collaboratively to assess intern progress and make plans for ongoing intern growth during the year, using tools provided by the program along with other strategies. Formalized three-way intern assessment conferences take place four times during the internship year, but interns, mentors and field instructors use ongoing communication and regular observation of many aspects of the intern’s developing practice to inform those assessments. In addition, the examination of intern assessment results, across subareas of the program as well as the program as a whole, is an important part of the culture of ongoing program improvement at MSU. Field instructors and mentors play an important role in that culture through collecting evidence, adjusting their practice in response to that evidence, and contributing to conversations about the ongoing development of the program’s structure and mission.
Working with Pre-interns
About the Pre-internship Phase
The purpose of the pre-internship phase is to prepare teacher candidates to be ready to learn from the internship year. Through a variety of field placements, beginning early in the program and continuing throughout, candidates learn about learners, families, schools and communities, and the roles of teachers. All field placements occur as components of courses in which candidates learn how to learn from field-based experiences, as well as use their field experiences to inform their study of important ideas from research and practice. Throughout the pre-internship phase, teacher candidates participate in service learning, focused observations, individual and small-group interactions with students, and simplified teaching episodes in both school sites and community-based organizations. The success of this work relies critically on sustained, mutually beneficial relationships between mentors and administrators in partner sites and MSU-based instructors and program leaders.
Becoming a Pre-internship Mentor
For most classroom-based field work, pre-internship coordinators begin the internship placement process in spring of the previous year by renewing relationships with existing school and district partners and reassessing needs for the coming year. Some partnerships house opportunities for candidates in both the internship and pre-internship phases; others for just the internship, or just the pre-internship phase.
Some pre-internship courses are taught on-site in partner schools and in close partnership with mentor teachers, and candidates complete their field work in those schools. These relationships and structures are laid out in the spring in collaboration between school administrators and MSU program leaders.
Other pre-internship courses are taught on campus, but include field-based experiences in partner schools. Applications for teachers in identified district and school partners are made available in through the administrators in those partner sites on timelines that vary based on the course and type of placement, but always include an application phase in the early fall. Pre-intern placement arrangements proceed throughout early weeks of each semester.
Placements are arranged by MSU coordinators after consultation with school and district leaders. Pre-interns contact their assigned mentors to finalize schedule arrangements and make plans for initial visits within a week of that contact. Depending on the course, teacher candidates spend from one to four hours per week in their field placements, sometimes for a semester and sometimes for the full academic year.
Service learning field work is coordinated through the Center for Service Learning and Civic Engagement (CSLCE) at MSU. Community partners, including schools, after-school programs and community-based organizations can contact CSLCE for more information about registering with that organization. When completing your organization’s application, be sure to mention your interest in working with MSU teacher candidates and the contributions you expect experiences in your program or organization will make to teacher candidates’ growth.
Learning to Mentor a Pre-internship Candidate
Whether partnering with an MSU instructor in the delivery of a pre-internship course on site, working with pre-internship candidates a few hours a week as they observe your classroom practice and learn to enact aspects of it, or supporting prospective teachers in learning from service to their communities and to learners, all forms of mentoring teacher candidates rely on both the mentor’s expert knowledge and practice, and specific strategies for maximizing teacher candidate learning in their context. Mentors in the pre-internship phase access resources and work with MSU course instructors to create educative experiences for candidates in placement sites, to provide access to expert practitioner thinking, and to help candidates learn to think about their developing practice. While less intensive than mentoring an intern for a full year, mentoring pre-interns can also be an important context for ongoing growth as an expert teacher and teacher leader. Some ISDs sponsor SCECHs for teachers in their counties who participate in pre-intern mentoring and field experiences. Pre-internship mentors should contact their ISDs for more information.
All teacher educators, including mentors, play a vital role in the assessment of the teacher candidates in their care. Formalized assessment of pre-internship candidate progress in field-based work takes place, at minimum, at the end of every semester, but mentors and instructors use ongoing communication and regular observation of many aspects of the intern’s developing practice to inform those assessments, seeking support from program leaders and school or site administrators as needed. Mentors and course instructors reflect on candidate performance, plan for growth in their practices with pre-interns and contribute to a shared conversation about the preparation of candidates for success in the internship year and beyond.
Becoming an MSU Instructor
About MSU Course and Field Instructors
MSU’s teacher education faculty includes some of the leading experts and most promising new scholars in the field of teacher education. All of these faculty members participate in the teacher certification program as course instructors and/or field instructors. In addition, the prestigious Curriculum, Instruction and Teacher Education (CITE) doctoral program in the MSU Department of Teacher Education prepares the next generation of teacher education scholars through academic and research opportunities and ongoing practical experience. Teaching in the teacher certification program under the mentorship of the MSU faculty is part of their world-class preparation. And, some accomplished P-12 classroom teachers and administrators seek new opportunities to lead by pursuing employment at MSU as fixed-term faculty course and field instructors. Collegial work among instructors from these varied backgrounds strengthens the practice of MSU’s corps of campus-based teacher educators.
Applying to be an MSU Course or Field Instructor
Visit the CITE website to apply for the CITE doctoral program.
To learn about joining the fixed-term faculty ranks in the Department of Teacher Education, contact the Department of Teacher Education at firstname.lastname@example.org.