This Elementary Internship Guide includes critical information about the internship year including: calendar, coordination personnel, participant responsibilities, mentoring practices, phases of the internship, standards and evaluation, and policies.
An internship includes many key participants who take on challenging relationships that become the basis for successful professional learning experiences for those involved. This guide is designed to provide information, a structure, and guidance for internship participants—interns, mentor teachers, field and course instructors—to help them get the most out of this joint venture. The guide includes information about the following topics:
Calendar and Coordination Personnel: These sections give information about the calendar for the year and the coordination personnel involved in the internship year, and elaborate on the responsibilities of internship year participants. A list of field and course instructors for each cluster is provided as a separate handout for ready reference.
Mentoring Guide and Mentoring Practices: The ideas in these sections were developed collaboratively by several groups of people: Mentor teachers, course instructors, field instructors and the coordination staff. These sections provide a framework intended to guide mentor teachers’, interns’, and instructors’ work together and not a set of steps to follow, so it is important that the plans and guidelines be used flexibly. Participants will need to make adjustments and adaptations in relation to the professional learning needs of each intern, the district curriculum, resources available, and the learning needs of the children in the classroom.
Standards and Evaluation: Across the internship year, course offerings and experiences in schools are designed to support interns in working to meet successfully a set of MSU Teacher Preparation Program Standards that represent the knowledge, skills, commitments and dispositions that are needed to be an effective and responsible beginning teacher in today’s schools. These standards include working within eight areas: (1) Employing a liberal education; (2) Teaching subject matter; (3) Working with students as individuals; (4) Organizing a class; (5) Using an equipped school room; (6) Joining a faculty and school; (7) Engaging guardians and community; and (8) Growing Professionally.
Appendices: This section provides additional information on Teacher Preparation Program Policies that pertain to the internship and copies of various documents that may be helpful throughout the internship year.
Thank you to Mentor Teachers, Field Instructors, Course Instructors, and Coordination Staff for your thoughtful contributions over the past several years to the ideas and information found in this guide. This is a document that has been constructed, reviewed and revised jointly with the best learning possible for interns in mind.
In 1988, a Michigan State University College of Education task force began redesigning the teacher preparation program. The Holmes Group Report, Tomorrow’s Schools, a document that urged universities to reconnect teacher education to schools and classrooms, influenced the new program that emerged. The result is a three-year teacher certification program with the final year being an internship in a school. One of the primary goals of our program is to develop a partnership between practicing teachers and teacher educators, working toward making meaningful connections between classroom fieldwork and university coursework.
We believe that people do not learn from experience alone, but through experience in combination with careful preparation, good mentoring, discussions with colleagues, and well-designed courses. Therefore, we seek to develop sustained connections among teacher candidates, MSU staff, and practicing teachers.
The program blends classroom experience with inquiry and reflection in a series of dialogues with MSU professors and mentor teachers. We hope that through this collaborative effort, the graduates of such an internship will be teachers who teach for understanding, who will reach diverse bodies of students, who will be thoughtful and skilled about linking subject matter in a responsive curriculum, who will cultivate learning communities and who will be public intellectuals engaged in democratic reform. Working together, we plan to continue building a teacher certification program that reflects our collective visions of the kinds of teachers needed to meet the educational needs of an increasingly diverse student population in an increasingly complex society, informed by new perspectives about subject matter and learning.
Rhythm of the Year
The year is structured so that MSU interns begin the year by assuming a few of the responsibilities of the mentor teacher, then give some of those responsibilities back to the mentor teacher and take time to reflect and learn from these initial experiences. For the rest of the internship year, interns then complete several cycles of increased responsibility and reflection and eventually experience a sustained time period in which they are responsible for most (but not all) of the work of a full-time teacher.
Phases dates are guides for progressing through the year and may be adjusted as needed.
Phase 1: Learning about the Classroom, Children and Curriculum (August, September, October)
- Begin school following your school district calendar.
- TE 501 seminars will be arranged by your field instructor and held regularly during the year.
- Grand Rapids, and Lansing area interns: TE 801 and TE 802 meet most Thursdays in September, October, and the beginning of December. All internship classes will be held in each regional area.
- Detroit area interns: TE 801 and TE 802 meet according to school clusters on either Tuesday or Thursday in September, October, and the beginning of December.
Phase 2: Guided Lead Teaching (November)
- Grand Rapids, and Lansing area interns: TE 801 and TE 802 do not meet; interns stay in school placements to teach.
- Detroit area interns: TE 801 and TE 802 do not meet; interns stay in school placements to teach.
- Mid-Semester Assessment Conferences.
- November: Thanksgiving Break.
Phase 3: Looking Back and Planning for the Future (December)
- Grand Rapids, and Lansing area interns: TE 801 and TE 802 meet.
- Detroit area interns: TE 801 and TE 802 meet according to school clusters on either Tuesday or Thursday.
- End-of-Semester Assessment Conferences.
- Begin winter break with school district calendar.
Phase 4: Preparing for Lead Training (January)
- Follow school district calendar for return from winter break.
- Grand Rapids, and Lansing area interns: TE 803 and 804 meet on Thursdays.
- Detroit area interns: TE 803 and 804 meet according to school clusters on Tuesday or Thursday.
Phase 5: Transition into Lead Teaching (February)
- Grand Rapids, and Lansing area interns: TE 803 and TE 804 meet.
- Detroit area interns: TE 803 and TE 804 meet according to school clusters on either Tuesday or Thursday.
- Lead teaching may start during this time, depending on the curriculum, needs of the students and approval from instructors and mentor teacher.
Phase 6: Lead Teaching (February, March)
- Grand Rapids, and Lansing area interns: TE 803 and TE 804 do not meet during lead teaching.
- Detroit area interns: TE 803 and TE 804 do not meet during lead teaching.
- Mid-Semester Assessment conferences.
Phase 7: Phasing Out (April)
- Grand Rapids, and Lansing area interns: TE 803 and TE 804 meet (not during schools’ spring break)
- Detroit area interns: TE 803 and TE 804 meet according to school clusters on either Tuesday or Thursday.
- Follow school district calendar for spring break
- Final Assessment conferences
Lansing, Grand Rapids, and Southeast Michigan area calendars
- Email your internship coordinator for a link to the current calendars!
Intern Year Coordination Personnel
The team structure in place in the TE Department enables faculty and graduate students to work together closely to plan and teach the MSU teacher preparation course sequence across the junior, senior and internship years, and to work collaboratively with the Mentor Teachers in schools who support the teacher candidates’ school-based learning.
Our Team Secretary maintains student records and assists the Coordination Personnel in maintaining communication among all participants in the program.
- Sue Gray, 116 Erickson Hall, 355-1726, email@example.com
- Jamie Archer, 116 Erickson Hall, 355-1741, firstname.lastname@example.org
Our Program Director represents the team in the development of program and policy, which includes approaches to working with schools. The Program Director coordinates communication and curriculum development among faculty, graduate students, and Mentor Teachers who teach courses, and is available to talk with participants in the internship about program development, courses, personnel, policy, or other ideas they wish to discuss.
Grand Rapids Elementary Interns – Kimberly Arsenault, 231-730-4745, email@example.com
Lansing Elementary Interns – Ann-Marie Sladewski, 364 Erickson Hall, 517-432-5549, firstname.lastname@example.org
Southeast Michigan Interns – Effat Id-Deen, MSU Detroit Center, 517-884-9713, email@example.com
Special Education Interns – Lisa Plascencia, 336 Erickson Hall, 517-353-5401, firstname.lastname@example.org
Student Advising – Student Affairs Office Advisors work with the coordinators to maintain communication between the TE Program and the Student Affairs Office (SAO), where student advisement and intern clearances are done. For more information about advising please visit the Student Affairs Office website here or see a list of undergraduate advisors here.
Elementary Team Participant Responsibilities
A successful internship is a partnership among the intern, mentor teacher, the field instructor, and the 800-level course instructors. Sometimes interns also work with the intern coordinator.
The Mentor Teacher
The mentor teacher is a person who is steeped in the local knowledge of the school and classroom, who works with the intern daily, and who thus is in an appropriate position to promote and notice an intern’s development on a daily basis.
The Field Instructor
The field instructor works with several interns and attends meetings on program standards, course work, and procedures, and thus is in a good position to suggest how the program should work and how the standards can be applied consistently over time.
The Course Instructor
The course instructor works to help a group of interns recall, extend and apply their previous studies to their current teaching practices, and is familiar with national, state and program standards in a particular subject matter area as well as research-based teaching materials and methods, and who thus is in a good position to guide interns in standards-based, subject-specific planning, teaching and assessment.
The Intern Coordinator
The intern coordinator has in-depth knowledge of the overall internship program, including courses, field instruction, and partner schools, as well as program policies and procedures.
The intern, mentor teacher, field instructor and course instructors share some responsibilities during the year. The success of their collaborative work together rests largely on their explicit and regular discussion and negotiation of each responsibility.
Planning and Communication
- Negotiate expectations, formats, and schedules for developing unit and daily lesson plans in a timely manner. Make sure that unit and lesson planning agreements for major subject matter areas (science, social studies, literacy, math) are consistent with course instructors’ expectations for the intern’s planning.
- Negotiate a procedure for the intern to follow in the event of absences (e.g., who should be contacted, how lesson plans will be shared).
- Negotiate plans for completing the TE 801-804 assignments that involve field work
- Throughout the internship, the MT will remain the teacher of record for the pupils in the class. While the MT may delegate planning, teaching, assessing, grading and many other duties to the intern, the MT may not hand the intern the final responsibility for the class.
- Negotiate an appropriate sequence of activities and responsibilities that promote interns’ learning to teach (e.g., moving from observation to co-planning and co-teaching to increasing responsibility for lead teaching).
- Identify and arrange for outside-the-classroom opportunities that will benefit the intern and complement the coursework (e.g., observations of other teachers, participation in teacher meetings and in-services, parent conferences, curriculum committees, community-school committees, study groups, professional association).
Supporting and Guiding Intern’s Learning
- Identify areas where the intern needs support and guidance in learning to teach, and develop strategies to promote the intern’s professional growth in these areas.
- Participate in joint conferences (intern, mentor teacher, and field instructor) at least five times during the academic year: (1) an initial conference during August or September, to confirm responsibilities, negotiate working relations, and plan the intern’s learning; (2) a mid-semester evaluation and planning conference in fall; (3) an end-of-semester evaluation conference in December; (4) a mid-semester evaluation and planning conference in spring, and (5) a final evaluation conference in April that includes discussion of the Exit Performance Description (EPD). Additional 3-way conferences may be necessary to support the intern’s professional growth.
Managing Demands of the Internship
- Review interns’ work arrangements to ensure that interns understand the consequences of outside work during the intern year and that they can undertake an intensive year of professional study and guided practice while meeting their financial needs.
- Assist the intern in identifying strategies for coping – in ways that promote continued learning – with the various demands that they will face during the intern year.
Past experience has shown that those interns who embrace their responsibilities fully and take initiative to seek what they need to promote their own learning have the most success. While the field instructor and mentor teacher have primary responsibilities for providing support, it is the intern who must take responsibility for his/her own learning and take advantage of the opportunities provided.
Planning and Communication
- Inform your field instructor in writing of your school schedule and your mentor teacher of your course and seminar schedule. Update your field instructor and mentor teacher with any schedule changes that occur throughout the year.
- Arrange observation and conference times with the field instructor. Notify your field instructor in a timely manner if an observation needs to be rescheduled or canceled for any reason.
- According to formats and procedures negotiated with the field instructor, mentor teacher (and 800-level course instructor if applicable), develop unit and daily lesson plans in writing and in advance of instruction, and have them approved by the mentor teacher. Plans may also be approved by the field or course instructor as arranged. A good rule of thumb is that the plans should be detailed enough that another teacher could follow them. Plans need to be handed in to the mentor teacher (and field instructor, if arranged) during the week prior to teaching so that suggestions for revision can be incorporated into the plans.
- Respond to e-mail communication from your mentor teacher, field instructor, course instructor, intern coordinator, or other program personnel in a timely manner.
- Plan with the mentor teacher ways to participate in orientation activities at the school and introduce yourself to school administrators, specialists, secretaries, custodians, and other teachers in the building.
- Attend school faculty meetings, parent-teacher conferences, PTA or parent council meetings and other professional in-services. Follow school procedures for days you are sick, leaving detailed lesson plans for your mentor teacher. Absences due to sickness will be made up if deemed necessary by your field instructor and mentor teacher.
- Read and follow the school/teacher handbook; follow the school faculty dress code and your mentor teacher’s expectations (e.g., the time to be in the classroom before and after school).
- Take initiative in asking questions, searching out resources, inviting feedback, and creating opportunities to learn.
- Beginning with the fall mid-semester conference, develop your Professional Learning Plan to guide your professional learning across the year, and update your plan following each assessment conference.
- Reflect on your teaching and your learning about teaching in writing, through journals and/or reflection papers. Share and discuss your reflections with your mentor teacher and field instructor.
- Participate in ongoing portfolio processes which result in the creation of a portfolio demonstrating your work and accomplishments to be shared with instructors and prospective employers. The portfolio will be shared with colleagues and family at the Intern Convocation at the end of the school year.
Managing Outside Work
- If you will need to work (a) before 5:00 p.m., (b) more than 10 hours per week, or (c) more than one evening per week, then discuss your plans with your field instructor and/or intern coordinator.
- Inform your mentor teacher and field instructor about your work arrangements and negotiate schedules that are mutually acceptable.
- Become informed about and follow district or building policies that may impact activities you want to engage in such as tutoring students for pay outside of school hours.
Field Instructor’s Responsibilities
The field instructor plays a key support role in helping the intern develop standards-based practices in planning, teaching and assessment, and in becoming a fully participating member of the teaching profession. In addition, the field instructor supports the mentor teacher in problem-solving and providing effective mentoring practices. The field instructor also works with the intern coordinator and Program Director to understand and communicate current program practices and policies, and is available to pass along information provided by course instructors about planning and other course requirements.
Planning and Communication
- Maintain regular contact with each mentor teacher in order to get a full picture of the intern’s progress, to identify problems, and to help the mentor teacher to play an active role in supporting the intern.
- Conduct a group meeting with the mentor teachers in each school when needed to discuss issues that arise during the internship and to support innovative and educative mentoring practices and problem-solving.
- Meet with each intern on a regular basis to share resources, assist with planning, observe, provide written feedback, discuss teaching experiences, and work on other aspects of teaching and learning to teach. Involve mentor teachers in these activities whenever possible and desirable.
- Provide assistance to course instructors in communicating about interns’ progress and problems, and helping interns and mentor teachers understand course requirements. Encourage direct communication among course instructors, interns and mentor teachers whenever appropriate.
- Work with course instructors and team representatives to plan meetings for mentor teachers during the year. Attend those meetings when your interns are involved.
- Attend field instructor meetings to discuss issues related to supporting interns’ professional growth, to facilitate communication between the university and the schools and to engage in professional development on mentoring.
- Respond to e-mail communication from the intern, mentor teachers, or other program personnel in a timely manner.
Supporting Intern Learning
- Conduct interactive group meetings (TE 501-502 seminars) that help the interns to reflect upon their current experiences and plan for their ongoing professional learning. In the seminars, discuss topics outlined in the TE 501/2 syllabus and other topics that are suggested during field instructor meetings.
- Help the mentor teacher to plan and play an active role in supporting and evaluating the intern.
- Observe the intern regularly and conduct follow-up conferences with the intern regarding the planning and teaching of each observed lesson. Provide written and oral feedback. Written observations should occur at least four (4) times each semester, with observation rubrics being sent electronically to the team secretary.
- Convene joint conferences (intern, mentor teacher, and field instructor) as indicated in the internship calendar and the description of the phases.
- Help interns to develop their portfolios, including giving feedback on materials to be included and providing assistance with videotaping, if needed.
End of the Year Responsibilities
- Work with the mentor teacher on the preparation of the Exit Performance Description (EPD) for each intern.
- Complete Michigan Department of Education survey for each intern. A printout of the signature sheet should be turned in to the program secretary.
- All assessments and field instructor feedback forms should be sent electronically to the program secretary.
- Attend the Intern Convocation.
Mentor Teacher’s Responsibilities
The mentor teacher plays a primary role in supporting the intern’s learning to adopt standards-based planning, teaching and assessment practices, and inducting the intern into the full range of responsibilities required of the classroom teacher. Working collaboratively with the field instructor, the mentor teacher plans for and carries out educative experiences for the intern that also enhance the pupils’ learning in his/her classroom. The mentor teacher also helps the intern make connections between prior and current studies within the teacher preparation program and classroom practices.
Planning and Communication
- Negotiate a sequence of opportunities to learn what supports your intern’s gradual induction into teaching, moving from observation to co-planning and co-teaching to assumption of lead teaching responsibilities.
- Establish regular times to discuss your teaching with the intern and help the intern with long-term planning: identifying unit topics, identifying places in curriculum where the intern can try out ideas studied in university classes, suggesting appropriate curriculum materials and school and district resources for the intern to use in planning and teaching, etc.
- During periods of lead teaching, read the intern’s unit and lesson plans and provide oral and written feedback regarding: (1) general focus of the unit/lessons (e.g., extent to which the lessons teach to conceptual understanding, how well individual lessons tie in with long-range unit goals, etc.); (2) effectiveness of the lesson in terms of introduction of the lesson (links to previous lessons and to overall unit goals), motivation and development, activities that involve students in actively constructing meaning (rather than passively listening to the teacher), conclusion; (3) assessment of student understanding integrated into the lesson.
- Communicate with field instructor, intern coordinator, and/or principal as needed about the intern’s progress, or problems or concerns that arise. Clarify with others when, how, and where to contact you during and outside of school hours, and whether e-mail communication is an option. Participate in three-way conversations with the field instructor and the intern when possible and desirable.
- Participate in mentor teacher meetings during the academic year. Most of these meetings will take place during school hours, while interns are teaching.
Supporting Intern’s Learning
- Co-teach with the intern and share decisions, ideas, and observations. See the Mentoring Practices Guide.
- When the intern is the lead teacher, continue co-teaching in a supportive role, and observe the intern teaching and help the intern to think about his or her teaching, including student understanding, alternative approaches, grouping, management, etc.
- Provide written feedback to the intern about his/her teaching as part of the mentoring process. Reflect with the intern about her/his teaching, about student learning, and about ideas and strategies studied in internship courses. Participate in joint conferences (intern, mentor teacher, and field instructor) at the time indicated in the description of the phases and the internship calendar.
- Prepare materials for the joint conferences and write an Exit Performance Description (EPD) for each intern you work with at the end of the academic year.
- Help the intern make key connections between his/her studies during course work and classroom planning, teaching and assessment practices. In consultation with field instructors, mentor teachers should coordinate the use of interns’ time on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesday and Fridays to include the meaningful use of “field time” associated with 800-level courses, both in and out of the classroom.
- Across the year, advise the intern regarding the development of his or her portfolio, including giving feedback on materials to be included and assistance with videotaping, if needed.
Guidelines for Internship Teaming Situations
With the increasing prevalence of teaming situations in elementary schools and the existing teams in middle schools, there is a need to make sure appropriate arrangements are made for interns to meet all the requirements of the internship.
- Make sure all members of a teaching team understand their responsibilities during the internship
- Each team will identify a Lead MT who will carry the responsibility for the Team in working with the intern in the areas listed below. In teams with more than one intern, each intern will have a Lead MT. In some cases, it may work out for a pair of MTs to share Lead MT responsibilities, as long as responsibilities are clearly worked out.
- During the spring months, the Lead MT is responsible for talking with team members prior to agreeing to work with an intern the following fall, to make sure all team members understand the internship requirements and the commitments they are making by agreeing to work with an intern (e.g., mentoring, co-planning, co-teaching as outlined in this Guide to the Elementary and Middle School Internship).
- The Lead MT is responsible for initiating conversations early in the fall to remind team members of agreements made the prior spring. This is especially important if changes in the make-up of the team have occurred since the prior spring.
- The Lead MT will see to it that the intern has an appropriate teaching context for successfully meeting the requirements for all associated coursework: TE 801 (math), TE 802 (literacy), TE 803 (social studies) and TE 804 (science), and for teaching all subject matters during spring Lead Teaching.
- The Lead MT will provide information to team members regarding internship requirements that involve them (e.g., relevant sections of the Guide to the Elementary and Middle School Internship, handouts distributed at cluster meetings about course work).
- The Lead MT will help team members establish how the planning for each subject matter is done and what the involvement of the team members will be (e.g., co-planning, sharing of resources, review of lesson plans).
- The Lead MT is responsible for gathering feedback from the other team teachers. Each team will make its own decisions about the form(s) in which feedback will be given: oral feedback, written feedback, checklists, use of the mid-semester feedback tool as a reference, and videotaping.
- The Lead MT will gather feedback from the other team members and be responsible for discussing it at the midsemester conferences and for writing the final report.
- The Lead MT will communicate with the field instructor and cluster leader the agreements and arrangements made within the team.
These guidelines have been developed with input from mentor teachers, course instructors and field instructors. They are based on the practices that many teams already implement, and are consistent with State of Michigan certification requirements. Since teaching teams are organized in a variety of configurations, the guidelines are intended to be adapted as appropriate to each team’s situation, while still allowing each intern to meet program requirements.
Course Instructor’s Responsibilities
The two 800-level courses offered each semester of the internship are designed to help interns recall, extend and apply prior studies in the teacher preparation program to their current classroom practices, so they are supported in developing standards-based practices in planning, teaching and assessment, and in becoming a successful and functioning member of the teaching profession.
The approved design of the program allocates to each 800-level course 30 hours of course time when interns meet with course instructors on campus, plus an average of 3 hours per week for field time that is complementary to the interns’ classroom-based work (either within the classroom, the school, or in the community). “Field time” is meant for tasks that interns cannot complete outside of the school placement, such as observing another teacher or intern, following a student, or visiting a field trip site that is only open during school hours. Instructors provide suggestions for the use of the “field time” to interns, mentor teachers and field instructors, who then work together to plan meaningful uses of that time. “Field time” must be negotiated ahead of time with mentor teachers and field instructors.
Planning and Communication
- Attend school cluster meetings to keep current information about course responsibilities and program events, and help plan and attend school cluster meetings with mentor teachers.
- Provide clear written outlines to interns, mentor teachers, and field instructors of course and classroom expectations, including suggestions for planning and “field time” associated with the course, and facilitate communication between mentor teachers and interns as needed to help interns fulfill expectations.
- Maintain regular communication with mentor teachers and field instructors regarding course expectations and ongoing events (e.g., newsletter every few weeks). Respond to e-mail communication in a timely manner.
- Follow Elementary Program guidelines in the Course Instructor Handbook regarding course and program development, teacher preparation program and university policies, working relationships with schools, and technology requirements.
Supporting Intern’s Learning and Mentor Teacher’s Practice of Teacher Education
- Provide timely feedback on lesson and unit plans in accordance with course schedule.
- Provide information to interns and mentor teachers regarding standards-based practices in subject matter fields to help communicate expectations for the internship.
- Provide suggestions for locating teaching resources.
- Arrange to spend time in the schools where interns are teaching to learn about school curriculum and classroom practices and maintain communication with mentor teachers and interns. Time available according to the course’s instructional model is approximately 3 hours per week except during periods of Guided & Lead Teaching (3 weeks in fall, and 6 weeks in spring).
The mentoring guide was developed collaboratively by several groups of people: mentor teachers, course instructors, field instructors and the coordination staff.
This mentoring guide is intended to outline a set of suggested collaborative practices that help the intern:
- Become increasingly involved in and take responsibility for all aspects of planning, teaching, and assessment
- Implement the approaches to teaching they have been learning about in their pre-internship course work
- Make meaningful connections between in-school experiences and 800-level course work that is designed to build upon and extend pre-internship course work
- Engage in a range of experiences that help them understand their professional roles and responsibilities and the role of inquiry and reflection in their professional learning.
Three important practices that mentors use to help interns grow as teaching professionals are
- Observing and Debriefing
- Analyzing Student Work
Phases of the Internship
The year-long internship is organized in seven “phases” that represent different types of experiences and different types of support that will be needed to guide the intern’s professional learning across the year. In the pages that follow, each phase of the internship is described in detail.
Phase 1 – Learning about the Classroom, Children and the Curriculum
The beginning weeks of school set the tone for the rest of the year. The teacher and the students work together to become a learning community. Part of that effort requires establishing rules and routines for interaction in the classroom, learning about and building relationships with children, and offering meaningful learning opportunities. During the same time period, interns and their mentor teachers set the tone for their professional working relationship. That process includes making and following a carefully crafted plan for establishing the intern as a co-teacher in the classroom.
Also at the beginning of the year, the intern, mentor teacher, field instructor and 800-level course instructors establish norms that enable them to work as a team – by building relationships, establishing agreements and routines for their interaction, and setting out a plan for the work of the intern to learn to teach and grow as a professional. This team – the mentor teacher, intern, field instructors and course instructors – should be deliberate, explicit, and specific about how they will work together.
Collaboration is an important way for two professionals to understand the thinking and reasoning behind the many decisions classroom teachers make throughout the day. Without close collaboration, a great deal of the mental work of teaching remains invisible, and novices are left on their own to make assumptions about the “hows” and “whys” of teaching. This introductory phase of the internship centers around collaborative work in establishing a learning community.
Making Time to Talk
Phase one emphasizes that it is essential for mentor teachers and interns to set regular times to talk, just as team teachers do. First, regular communication allows interns and mentor teachers to avoid miscommunication and misunderstandings. Second, what is automatic and second nature for experienced teachers often is not obvious to interns. The more explicit mentor teachers can be about the reasons why they do what they do, and the more they can help interns feel comfortable asking about those reasons, the more they can support the interns in learning to teach. Through regular conversation, mentor teachers can help interns develop a broad view of the classroom, an understanding of their goals and expectations for students, and a sense of how these values get translated into concrete activities, assignments, etc.
Getting Oriented to the Classroom
Phase one outlines several ways interns will become part of the classroom learning community. Starting the first week of school and continuing through September, interns should have the opportunity to do several things. They will talk with their mentor teacher about their classroom “vision” so interns understand the mentor teacher’s expectations, goals, and curriculum for the year. They will assist, observe, and take notes about the opening days of school as a basis for studying the development of a classroom learning community, and be invited to collaborate in setting up the classroom. Interns will get to know the names of all students, spend some individual time with each student, and keep notes about students’ interests, families, concerns, friends, and so on. If appropriate, interns may assist in beginning-of-year assessment tasks as well. Mentor teachers will help interns become familiar with guidelines for evaluating students’ work and providing oral and written feedback. Interns will become familiar with curriculum materials and resources available within the classroom, and how the mentor teacher organizes them. So that children view the intern as a co-teacher, interns will study and take responsibility for at least one recurring classroom event and/or procedure (e.g., taking attendance, checking homework; reading aloud; calendar; lunch count). Under their mentor teacher’s guidance, interns will also become involved in fostering parent communications, and help prepare for and participate in Open House.
Learning about the School and Community
Phase one includes experiences that enable interns to learn about important resources outside the classroom, even before the first day that children report to school. They will meet the principal and school personnel (secretary, custodian, support staff) and attend faculty meetings and orientations. They will learn about the district’s curriculum scope and sequence, preparation for standardized tests, and extra-curricular activities. Additional orienting activities should include: a tour of the building; information about location of resources; training in use and care of equipment; information about procedures for dealing with emergencies, discipline, and abuse; and an introduction to special services and special education. Mentor teachers, field instructors, and principals in each building should work together to assure that interns are informed about each of these areas.
Support from TE 501 Seminars and Field Instructors
TE 501 seminars and individual interactions with the field instructor provide additional support to the intern in carrying out his/her multiple responsibilities and getting the year off to a solid start. The first seminar may be scheduled for up to 2 hours to get the year started. Typically, seminars are held for 60 – 90 minutes, and field instructors also mentor interns on an individual basis which includes debriefing after observations, providing support for lesson planning, or discussing other issues as needed between seminars. The TE 501/2 syllabus outlines several Opening Tasks that are designed to help interns gather information about the classroom, school and community (discussed above), as well as becoming acquainted with supports needed for special needs students. For instance, interns are asked to analyze the physical and emotional environment of their classroom, examine the use of time and conduct a mini-study of a child. These Opening Tasks will be discussed during TE 501 seminars during the beginning weeks of the fall semester. These structured experiences are designed to help interns “get inside the MT’s head” to understand his/her thinking. These tasks also establish routines for reflection and dialogue that should occur throughout the year about planning and teaching. In addition, interns create a “subfolder” that contains essential information about the classroom structure so when they sub for their mentor teacher, they will be prepared to maintain classroom consistency. Field instructors will also initiate contact to set up a 3-way planning meeting (among the mentor teacher, intern and field instructor) during the first few weeks of school. The first item of business is to meet to plan specifically how the design for the internship will be implemented most productively for this particular intern and classroom context. The plans will focus on events leading up to the guided lead teaching period in the fall, taking into consideration the additional members of the relationship – the 800-level instructors – and their suggestions for the types of unit planning that should take place in math and literacy. The group should anticipate the topics that the intern may begin early to study, plan and prepare. They should also focus on how they will work together for the period up to the mid-semester assessment. The field instructor will provide a curriculum map, is a useful tool for this discussion.
Co-planning and Co-teaching in the Early Weeks of School
In the first weeks of school, mentor teachers are likely to be engrossed in getting the class going at the beginning of the year. Co- planning during the early weeks of school will consist mainly of the mentor teachers describing their plans to interns and finding ways to include interns in assisting and/or taking responsibility for some routines. That is valuable because it informs interns about mentor teachers’ thinking, and provides ways for the intern to be helpful. Mentor teachers can increase interns’ guided participation in planning by delegating parts of the planning task (e.g., asking the intern to write a handout or compose a set of instructions; brainstorming together options for a lesson; gathering resources). Starting with these small beginnings, interns should be expected to write their plans thoroughly and specifically and discuss them with their mentor teachers (and at scheduled times with field instructors) before they teach. Co-teaching during Phase One is likely to mean that mentor teachers are doing most of the work of teaching, and that interns are helping out as needed, such as leading routines, copying material, offering suggestions about additional materials that fit with mentor teachers’ planned units, working with a small group, or working with individual students. That is valuable because having a teaching role or a supportive role in planning–even a small one–helps interns to view the classroom activity from a teacher’s point of view. Over time, interns’ part in both planning and teaching will grow gradually.
Connecting Co-planning and Co-teaching to TE 801 and TE 802 Courses
Phase one also includes co-planning in literacy and math, so that interns are helped to make connections between their learning in the 800-level courses (which meet weekly during this phase on Thursdays for the Grand Rapids, and Lansing areas and on either Tuesdays or Thursdays for the Southeast Michigan area) and planning for teaching. Mentor teachers and interns will discuss a year-long curriculum outline, provided from the field instructor, for their grade level in math and literacy to help interns understand how a given unit fits within a big picture. Interns will observe and discuss the mentor teachers’ teaching in math and literacy in order to gather information for future planning (e.g., understand the mentor teachers’ teaching practices, get to know the children and their thinking, and learn about materials available).
Unit 1 will be co-planned and co-taught, with mentor teachers taking more of a lead in helping interns understand district curriculum requirements, and sharing resources, pre-assessment tasks, and teaching ideas. Interns and mentor teachers will co-develop daily plans and assessment tasks, and discuss overall expectations for the unit. Mentor teachers will help interns identify a focus for reflection and inquiry, an important part of their professional growth.
For Unit 2, the same process will be repeated, but this time interns will take the lead in planning, and will be supported by having ongoing conversations with their mentor teachers and getting specific feedback on lesson plans.
The mentor teacher, field instructor, and intern should negotiate and make clear the specific expectations for what needs to be written down for unit planning so everyone has adequate access to the intern’s thinking and so there is adequate time for the intern to revise plans prior to teaching. Course instructors’ expectations for planning are a key part of this negotiation process, and field instructors can play a key role in helping interns adapt those expectations to their classroom situation.
Phase 2 – Collaborative Unit Teaching in Mathematics and Literacy: Guided Lead Teaching
This phase escalates the intern’s involvement in the classroom, with the intern taking on increased responsibility for participating in and managing routines in the classroom. Interns are in the classroom five days per week during the guided lead teaching period, and then return to the pattern of attending weekly 800 level classes during the remainder of the semester.
Guided Lead Teaching
Co-teaching means that the intern takes the lead in teaching units in math and literacy, while the mentor teacher continues to play an active role through co-teaching, observing, coaching, and providing written and oral feedback. That is, the mentor teacher and intern work with the class simultaneously, see and hear each other work with the children, try together to work toward agreed-upon goals (established during co-planning), and thus have a basis for conversation about their joint professional practice that they could obtain in no other way. That combination of working and talking together can be highly fruitful for the intern. See the “Mentoring Practices” section of this guide for more on co-teaching.
Throughout co-teaching, it is important for the intern and mentor teacher to balance their teaching and talking about their teaching in ways that are not intrusive in the classroom, but that do help the intern and mentor teacher understand one another’s moves. It is also important for them to be explicit about when and how they will shift roles from being observer and helper to taking on more instructional responsibility.
The following are examples of different forms of “co-teaching” that mentor teachers and interns might find appropriate to suit different needs at different times (adapted from Marilyn Friend, 1994: Co-Teaching: Principles, Practices, and Pragmatics).
- One teaches, one observes students: This allows both teachers to learn more about students and how they are responding to a lesson and understanding the content. Teachers decide in advance what information should be gathered and agree on a system for collecting information. Afterward, the teachers analyze the information together.
- Parallel teaching: The teachers are both teaching the same lesson, but they divide the class group and do so simultaneously, which decreases group size and increases the teachers’ opportunities for interactions with children.
- One teaches, one circulates: One teacher maintains primary responsibility for teaching while the other circulates throughout the room providing assistance to students as needed. Debriefing can provide valuable information for the primary teacher about questions and issues that were raised by students.
- Center teaching: Teachers divide content and students; each teacher teaches the content to one group and subsequently repeats the instruction for the other group. If appropriate, a third “center” could require that students work independently.
- Alternative teaching: When some students fail to understand a concept or skill as it is presented, this approach allows for re-teaching to some students. One teacher works with a small group that needs re-teaching while the other provides enrichment or alternative activities to the rest of the class.
- Team teaching: Both teachers deliver the same instruction together. One may model while the other one speaks, one may demonstrate while the other explains, the teachers may role-play, or they may simply take turns conducting the lesson.
The mentor teacher and intern will agree upon specific guided observations of the intern’s teaching to be done by the mentor teacher. The Feedback Framework can be used to discuss a specific focus for the observation and whether or not written feedback is appropriate.
The mentor teacher and field instructor may also discuss ways to coordinate the areas of focus each will concentrate on so that, over time, the intern receives feedback across a variety of areas
Participating in Assessment, Parent Communication and Parent Conferences
As a natural part of co-planning and co-teaching, Phase 2 includes interns’ involvement in assessment of student participation and learning. Mentor teachers should also share with interns their approaches to ongoing assessment that become important sources of information for conducting parent conferences. As appropriate, the intern may help prepare for parent conferences, and should participate as appropriate in the actual conferences. This is a valuable experience for the more active role interns will play during spring parent conferences. In addition, with guidance from their mentor teachers, interns become increasingly involved in communicating with parents (in person, in writing, by telephone) regarding a variety of topics (e.g., classroom management issues, student progress, upcoming classroom events).
The Mid-Semester Assessment Conference and Professional Learning Plan
A growth-oriented mid-semester conference among the intern, mentor teacher and field instructor should be held during the 8th or 9th week of the semester. The intern, mentor teacher and field instructor each come to the conference with the “Assessment of Intern Progress: A Tool for Discussion” (the link to the assessment will be emailed to the mentor and intern). This document is based on the InTASC Standards and the Teacher Preparation Program Standards, and is intended to foster discussion of the intern’s progression toward each standard, using specific examples. The same form should be used at the end of the semester in order to track the intern’s progress and during the spring semester mid-term conference to discuss the intern’s growth over time. The conference itself should be conducted in ways that help interns to evaluate their practice honestly and to plan their growth as teachers. During the fall mid-semester assessment, the focus is on the extent to which the intern is making progress that is reasonable to expect of a beginning teacher with 8-9 weeks of gradually increasing experience as a teacher. The mid-semester conference should help the intern target areas for development during guided lead teaching.
Following the conference, the intern will develop a Professional Learning Plan (provided by the field instructor) to identify strengths and weaknesses with respect to the MSU Program Standards, goals for improvement, and a plan of action to achieve those goals. The plan will incorporate specific actions to be taken by the intern, field instructor and/or course instructor from that point until the end of the semester.
Course Meetings Resume
Course meetings resume after three weeks of full-time classroom work TE 801 and TE 802 meetings are suspended during the beginning weeks of guided lead teaching so that interns may concentrate fully on their work in the school. When the courses resume meeting, interns likely will need some adjustments in their duties at school so that they can resume their attention to those courses. Those adjustments will be easiest to make if the intern and mentor teacher have been co-planning and co-teaching as suggested.
Interns might have gained enough confidence and skill that they can continue to hold the same lead planning and teaching responsibilities as they held during the guided lead teaching. However, that should not simply be assumed, nor should it be viewed as a weakness on the intern’s part if that is not appropriate for the intern’s learning needs. Interns might need to shift some lead responsibility back to mentor teachers in order to attend adequately to the courses.
Even if interns continue much the same lead planning and teaching responsibilities, they will be attending course meetings on Thursdays for the Grand Rapids and Lansing areas and on either Tuesdays or Thursdays for the Southeast Michigan area. Further, they are likely to need some other time during the week to pursue projects for those courses. Interns’ professional coursework is viewed as an integral part of their professional learning, not as a separate “add on.” A rich professional culture includes learning through further study and inquiry. Recall that “field” time averaging about 3 hours per week is available to each of the two courses, that course instructors should have notified mentor teachers about the uses to be made of that time, and that mentor teachers help coordinate the use of interns’ time the days they are in their placement classrooms.
Phase 3 – Looking Back and Planning for the Future
This phase is a time for the intern to reflect on the past several weeks of classroom participation, make connections between course work and classroom experiences, and initiate planning for the upcoming spring semester. It is not a “downtime” as a busy semester comes to a close.
Participating in Ongoing Inquiry and Portfolio Processes
In phase, interns continue to have planned, focused classroom participation, and the mentor teacher and the field instructor help the intern reflect on and learn from the co-planning and co-teaching on “Coaching and Scaffolding”, and “Fostering Reflection”). The goals set and specific action plans developed for the Professional Learning Plan following the mid-semester conference will guide some of the work done during this phase. Discussion of potential artifacts for the Professional Portfolio with mentor teachers and in TE 501 seminars provides one way for interns to take stock of their own progress in working toward the MSU Teacher Preparation Program Standards and of the learning fostered within the classroom. Reflecting back should include careful consideration of ways in which appropriate adaptations and accommodations for differences among students were made, such that the learning of all students was actively supported.
Building an Inclusive Learning Community
In TE 501 seminars, interns revisit classroom management issues in relation to their own teaching and ways in which rules and routines may have changed as the school year progresses. It may be appropriate for the intern to arrange to visit other classrooms to make note of management approaches, transitions, room arrangements, and organization of resources. This is also a good time to review ideas from TE 301 regarding classroom management that the intern now has an opportunity to implement to improve his/her approaches to management.
End-of-Semester Assessment Conference and the Professional Learning Plan
During the last two weeks of the semester, an assessment conference among the intern, mentor teacher and field instructor should be scheduled that emphasizes progress made and areas for further growth. This is also an occasion to look back on progress made in teaching math and literacy and identify topics for social studies and science unit planning. The intern uses information from this conference to identify areas for spring semester planning and to develop a written Professional Learning Plan that sets goals and concrete tasks for work in targeted areas. The plan can then be used to guide the intern’s classroom work during spring semester.
Winter break schedules. Interns should follow the school’s schedule for winter break, working in the school until the school’s last day before the winter break, and returning on the school’s first day back.
Phase 4 – Preparation for Lead Teaching
During this phase, the intern is in the classroom 4 days per week and attends 800-level courses one day per week (the Grand Rapids, and Lansing area classes meet on Thursday, except for the second week of classes when classes will meet both Thursday and Friday. The Southeast Michigan classes meet either Tuesdays or Thursdays depending on the intern’s section).
Balancing Preparation for Lead Teaching and Continued Classroom Participation
During this time period, it is important for the intern and mentor teacher to find reasonable ways for the intern to continue to participate actively in the learning community while mentor teachers also provide strategic support for interns as they prepare for lead teaching. This means finding an appropriate balance between the intern’s classroom participation and preparation for the future and recognizing the time demands placed on interns by classroom and course requirements.
“Guiding” means helping the intern in unit planning for social studies and science, the focus of TE 803 and TE 804. Building upon fall experiences in co-planning and co-teaching units in math and literacy, mentor teachers support their interns in planning in those areas as well. These forms of support include:
- Sharing of resources
- Reading drafts of plans, asking questions so interns explain their decision making, and making suggestions
- Talking about particular students’ learning needs
- Helping the intern anticipate potential classroom management challenges
At this stage of their professional learning, interns benefit from their mentor teacher’s active curiosity about what they thinking and planning, and strategic support in areas where interns need it.
The mentor teacher, field instructor, and intern should negotiate and make clear the specific expectations for what needs to be written for unit planning so everyone has adequate access to the intern’s thinking and so there is adequate time for the intern to revise plans prior to teaching. Course instructors’ expectations for planning are a key part of this negotiation process, and field instructors can play a key role in helping interns adapt those expectations to their classroom situation.
Building an Inclusive Learning Community
As a matter of course, some mentor teachers make specific changes in rules and routines as they make the transition back to school after the winter break. Any changes in rules and routines, or expectations for students, should be discussed specifically with interns, who may not understand the rationale for such changes. It is also important for mentor teachers and interns to have clear expectations regarding approaches to management that interns will implement during lead teaching. If the intern has suggestions about possible changes in rules or routines, these ideas need to be discussed thoroughly with the mentor teacher.
Fostering Key Linkages Between the Classroom and Course Work
The time for attending courses during January is intended to help the interns recall, extend, and apply their previous studies to their teaching practice.
Mentor teachers can help interns make connections between their course work and classroom participation by discussing how the main ideas in the Michigan Curriculum Framework and the district curriculum get translated into unit and lesson plans that are carried out in the classroom. They also should spend time talking with their intern about the knowledge and skills children at their grade level bring to the classroom, to help the intern make judgments about developmentally appropriate unit and lesson plans.
Phase 5 – Transition into Lead Teaching
During this phase interns gradually increase teaching responsibilities according to a plan that fits the classroom curriculum and the intern’s learning needs. Interns should not begin teaching science or social studies units until the units have been reviewed by course instructors and the mentor teacher.
Making a Successful Transition into Lead Teaching
The mentor teacher’s active support during the transition into lead teaching can play a key part in assuring the intern’s success. Like the fall semester guided lead teaching, this time period is not about “taking turns” but about shifting who is “taking the lead.” Lead teaching is another phase in the working relationship among the intern, mentor teacher, field instructor, and course instructor. Like other phases, this one is more likely to succeed if everyone involved discusses specifically how to go about it. As the intern takes on more teaching responsibility, the mentor teacher takes on more responsibility for observing, coaching and giving oral and written feedback on the intern’s teaching. Observations may focus on areas targeted in the intern’s Professional Learning Plan, or they may focus on areas that the intern wants to try out and get feedback on as s/he eases into full-time teaching.
Building an Inclusive Learning Community
During this time period the mentor teacher helps the intern work on making smooth transitions between lessons and reflecting on how well the classroom management system is working. The mentor teacher and intern discuss specific ways in which the intern will take on full responsibility for management, and the type of support that may still be needed from the mentor teacher to assure the intern’s success.
Engagement in Portfolio Processes
During this phase the intern will work with the mentor to make decisions on what to include in the porfolio (see “Creating a Professional Portfolio”).
Planning for the Principal’s Classroom Observation
Because principals have busy schedules and many demands on their time, interns need to take responsibility for arranging with them, well in advance, for any observations they want done during their lead teaching. Principals do not feel comfortable writing letters of recommendation for interns whose teaching they have not observed.
Phase 6 – Lead Teaching
During this phase the intern is in the classroom full time, and takes on increasing responsibility for full-time teaching. This means the intern bears the lead responsibility for most subjects on most days. Exactly when the full-time responsibility occurs and how many weeks it entails varies according to interns’ learning needs, as agreed upon by the mentor teacher, intern and field instructor. Interns should not begin teaching science and social studies units until the units have been reviewed by the course instructors and the mentor teacher. That is why Phase 6 overlaps with the “transition” phase that precedes it.
Guiding the Intern’s Growth and Development
During this phase the intern takes leadership for planning and instruction, with the mentor teacher continuing to mentor through written and oral feedback. The intern should also have some experience teaching when the mentor teacher is out of the classroom. Building upon the fall semester co-teaching experiences, the mentor teacher and intern can decide how to make best use of having two teachers present in the classroom. Through careful planning and consideration, the two teachers take on various forms of co-teaching in relation to the children’s learning needs and the type of support needed by the intern (see section on Mentoring Practices for more discussion of “Co-Teaching”).
Using the Feedback Framework
The intern and mentor teacher work together to target particular areas of focus and they vary the purposes of observations over time, consulting with the field instructor about respective roles in supporting the intern’s planning and teaching. Establishing regular times for debriefing observations is critical to helping the intern learn in and from his/her practice. For example, the intern may want additional assistance from the mentor teacher or course instructor in leading guided reading lessons, and request that the field instructor or course instructor target observations in math. In addition to discussing student progress and appropriate adaptations and accommodations, mentor teachers use open-ended questions to help interns identify strengths, pinpoint problems, and discover solutions. Mentor teachers model their own thinking about how to approach and solve problems, and help the intern formulate his/her own questions.
Mid-Semester Assessment Conferences and the Professional Learning Plan
About Week 8 of the semester, the mid-semester conference is held among the mentor teacher, intern, and field instructor. All participants bring an updated copy of the Assessment of Intern Progress to the conference, with notations of how the intern’s teaching has grown and changed over time. This is an occasion to talk about how things are going, and to target areas for the intern to work on-with the active support of the mentor teacher and field instructor, during lead teaching. Following the conference, the intern develops an updated version of the Professional Learning Plan that includes goals for further work and specific action plans for working toward those goals. Specific forms of support needed from the mentor teacher and field instructor are also identified.
Preparation For and Participation in Parent Conferences
Building on the fall semester experience, the mentor teacher and intern discuss the intern’s specific responsibilities for preparing for and leading parent conferences. After conferences are held, debriefing is an important way for the intern to reflect on and learn from the experience.
As the lead teaching time period comes to a close, the mentor teacher and intern agree upon a gradual decrease in planning and teaching responsibilities for the intern.
Phase 7 – Phasing Out
The intern participates in the classroom four days per week and attends TE 803 and TE 804 classes as scheduled during this phase. After an intense and demanding year, it might be tempting for both the intern and mentor teacher to shift their attention away from the intern’s learning and simply “be done with it all.” But experience has shown that, with careful collaboration and specific planning, these four remaining weeks of the internship can be extremely productive for the intern’s learning and provide valuable reflection experiences.
Trading the Lead and Following the Professional Learning Plan
While interns and mentor teachers continue to co-teach, they also plan ways for the intern to “phase out” of taking lead responsibility, while still remaining an active participant in the learning community. Interns also follow their Professional Learning Plan, which gives them important opportunities to target specific areas that still need attention while they are not facing the demands of full-time teaching. These are valuable weeks for observing in other classrooms, trying out yet one more teaching idea, taking stock and identifying target areas for further growth.
Supporting the 800-Level Coursework
Once interns have successfully faced the multiple challenges of Lead Teaching, they may need support from mentor teachers and field instructors in thinking through the logistics of balancing the demands of active classroom involvement and working on course assignments. Many mentor teachers have found that it is very helpful to their interns when they help them see how the assignments are structured to help them reflect on and learn from their classroom teaching, and are not merely a separate workload that is “added on” at the end of a busy year.
Engaging in Portfolio Development
Also during this time period, interns get advice from mentor teachers about making final selections of portfolio items and writing commentary that helps those who are not connected to the classroom understand the significance of particular items, while also engaging in similar conversations with their colleagues during TE 502 seminars.
The end-of-semester conference among the mentor teacher, intern and field instructor is held during Week 15 or 16 of the spring semester. At this conference, participants assess how well the intern has met the MSU Teacher Preparation Program Standards, and identify areas for continued growth beyond the internship year.
Standards and Evaluation
Interns, mentors, and field instructors share the responsibility for ongoing assessment and for more formal evaluation at the midpoint and end of each semester. Interns benefit from a regular assessment sequence that is designed to help them take stock of progress made and make plans for the future. Each semester, they will participate in a mid-semester and end-of-semester conference, and following each conference they will create a Professional Learning Plan that will guide their ongoing learning between conferences. These events are outlined below.
The program’s professional standards serve as a framework for assessment and evaluation. Developed through conversations with mentor teachers, MSU faculty and staff, the standards identify important dispositions, knowledge, understandings, and skills needed to begin teaching on a solid footing and to continue learning throughout one’s teaching career. Compatible with professional standards for beginning teaching developed at the national and state levels, our program standards offer a set of aspirations to strive for and a basis for judging how interns are doing in their efforts to become well-started novices.
Across the internship year, course offerings and experiences in schools are designed to support interns in working to meet successfully a set of MSU Teacher Preparation Standards and InTASC Model Core Teaching Standards and Learning Progressions for Teachers, that represent the knowledge, skills, commitments and dispositions that are needed to be an effective and responsible beginning teacher in today’s schools (see section on Professional Standards under Policies and Procedures for elaboration of these standards).
The first formal assessment conference of the year will take place in the fall during Week 8 or 9 (see Calendar), during the time period when interns are in school full-time. Having prepared in advance, the intern, mentor teacher, and field instructor should meet to discuss the intern’s progress and to make plans for the intern’s growth. The assessment and conference should be conducted in ways that help interns to learn to evaluate their practice honestly and to plan their growth as teachers specifically. In addition to coming away with an awareness of general areas of strength and those that need further development, the intern should have a clear understanding of concrete ways to work on that development.
Standards for Assessment
The program’s standards for interns should be the basis for assessment. These standards not only provide a framework for working toward shared goals, but also provide a structure for discussing and debating visions of good teaching and visions of effective ways to learn to teach. Opportunities to practice each standard, with support, should also be considered. Is the intern having difficulty in an area due to lack of opportunity to work with the standard, or does the difficulty stem from something else?
Emphasize Progress and Professionalism
For the fall semester mid-semester assessment, in relation to the standards, our main concern should be whether interns are making progress that is reasonable to expect for that time of year; in the spring, we will ask whether they have achieved enough.
Use the Assessment of Progress Form
The standards are summarized in the “Assessment of Intern Progress”. This form is used by mentor teachers, interns and field instructors to prepare for the mid-semester discussion. Used cumulatively across the fall and spring mid-semester conferences, the form provides a record of the intern’s professional growth over time.
The intern, the mentor teacher, and the field instructor should each fill out the form before they meet to discuss the intern’s progress. All three should help to define the strengths of the intern’s practice, the areas of practice in which the intern needs to improve, and the intern’s professional learning plan for the remainder of the semester. In addition to giving the intern a rating for each standard, an overall judgment of how the intern is doing should be given, so that it is quite clear as to whether the intern, overall, is meeting expectations.
Ask the intern to speak first. At the three-way conference, ask the intern to go first to discuss her or his progress and plans for growth. This helps to make clear that the intern should be learning to assess and improve his or her own performance. The mentor teacher’s and field instructor’s assessments will be based, in part, on the intern’s ability to describe approaches to planning and classroom activity accurately and to assess them honestly and thoughtfully. One common benefit in letting the intern go first is that the mentor teacher and field instructor might have the opportunity to compliment the intern not only on the strong aspects of her or his practice but also on the ability to assess his or her own work.
Face Trouble Squarely
Trouble of some kind is not a disgrace, but rather is normal in the internship, as it is normal in teaching. Trouble swept under the rug is likely to breed more trouble. The earlier we recognize trouble and the quicker we get to working on it, the more likely that the intern will succeed by the end of year. Calling on principals and intern coordinators to help out is reasonable.
The Professional Learning Plan
After every assessment conference, the intern will develop a Professional Learning Plan to identify strengths and weaknesses with respect to the MSU Program Standards. The intern will set goals for improvement, and outline a plan of action to achieve those goals. The plan will incorporate specific actions to be taken by the intern, field instructor and/or course instructor from that point until the next assessment conference. The plan should challenge the intern to grow and not reflect a tendency to accept the status quo.
Goal setting. Interns may come away from an assessment conference feeling confused or unfocused after receiving feedback on several areas at once. Mentor teachers and field instructors can be very helpful to interns in sorting out priorities and figuring out a rational approach to working toward improvement. They should discuss with interns long-term goals and then help them identify reasonable short-term goals to work toward between assessment conferences. They also need to help interns, across the year, keep a focus on whether they are maintaining a sustained focus on key areas that need attention.
Developing an action plan. Sometimes interns are able to say what they need to learn to do better (e.g., develop more thorough lesson plans), but may not know how to go about achieving a certain goal. Mentor teachers and field instructors-more experienced educators who are more familiar with a range of resources–can play a key role in helping interns develop reasonable action plans for pursuing their goals. Sometimes the action plan will entail more focused work in the classroom (e.g., teaching reading strategies during guided reading lessons; leading a discussion in science using open-ended questions). Sometimes it will require interns to figure out better ways to organize their time. Other times, the area of need will require interns to work outside the classroom (e.g., do more research on a social studies topic as part of planning) or to seek help from a resource person in the building (e.g., work with the Reading Recovery teacher to learn more about making adaptations and accommodations for a particular learner). An 800- level course instructor could be a key resource person for interns to work with if their areas of need involve subject-specific issues. The important point here is that interns need support in translating the goals they want to achieve into action plans that match them up with appropriate resources.
Revisiting and updating the plan over time. Since the Professional Learning Plan is updated and revised after each assessment conference, it will become a “growing and living” document that represents areas for growth targeted across the year. It is intended to be a useful tool that interns, mentor teachers and field instructors refer to as they continue their ongoing work together, not a document that the intern writes to get an assignment done, and then ignores. Field instructors and mentor teachers should ask interns how they’re doing with their plan, and whether they need additional suggestions for resources or strategies for working on the plan. The Professional Learning Plan is also a source of information for developing the Professional Portfolio, which chronicles the intern’s professional learning over time.
Readiness for Subbing
During Phase 2 of the internship, there is a three-week time period when interns are in school full time (weeks 9-11) and they are engaged in guided lead teaching. Preparation for the mid-semester assessment conference (weeks 7 or 8) may be a good time to study the policy on substitute teaching by interns, which is included later in this guide. In brief, the policy is that, during the period of internship, an intern may substitute teach for her or his own mentor teacher, for up to 15 days (or 30 half-days), under some specific conditions. To avoid confusion and misunderstandings, mentor teachers and interns should read and follow the policy (see Appendix A), which calls first for an explicit decision (agreed upon by the field instructor and the mentor teacher, in consultation with the intern) that the intern is ready to substitute for her or his mentor teacher.
It is generally recommended that the intern’s readiness for subbing is most accurately assessed toward the end of week 12, when the intern has had opportunity to demonstrate readiness through full-time involvement in the classroom. In some cases, even more time is needed to be sure the intern is ready to take on that responsibility. Readiness is decided on a case by case basis in consultation with the intern, the mentor teacher and the field instructor. There are forms to be completed and signed before an intern substitutes for the mentor teacher, and reports to be made in writing.
End-of-Semester Assessment and Grading
This assessment is conducted at the end of fall semester and at the end of spring semester. It should be conducted in much the same way as the mid-semester assessment, giving the intern an opportunity to speak first, and making sure that both strengths and areas for further growth are identified. Interns will update their Professional Learning Plan at the end of fall semester, and use it to guide their work during the early weeks of spring semester. That plan might show how the intern will grow as needed to succeed during the spring lead teaching period.
Consultation about the grade. Formally, the grade for TE 501 and TE 502 is set by the Intern Coordinator who is the instructor of record for the Elementary Teacher Preparation Program. In practice, the grade for TE 501 is set by consultation among the field instructor and the mentor teacher. The mentor teacher works with the intern most days over the semester, and so has more specific information about the intern’s performance and growth over time. The field instructor works with several interns and is therefore in a better position to achieve consistency in the application of standards and make judgments about the intern’s participation in professional learning experiences outside the classroom. Our aim should be to combine these two perspectives, not to set them up as competitors.
One might ask, “But if the field instructor and mentor teacher do not agree about the grade, who will prevail?” Neither of them. If the field instructor and mentor teacher cannot settle a grade by consultation, the Intern Coordinator and/or Program Director will attempt to preserve their working relationship and do right for the intern by talking with all of them, gathering any other information that s/he believes s/he needs, and setting the grade. Grades for TE 501 and 502 should be processed by the Intern Coordinator; they will be reported to the Registrar according to MSU due dates, as required through the University.
In each pair of internship courses (801/3, 802/4 or 501/2), successful completion of the first course is required for enrollment in the second course. In particular, a student who fails a first semester internship course may not enroll in the second semester of the internship. Also, a student who receives a grade of (I)ncomplete or (D)eferrred grade in a fall semester course or courses must complete the requirements for that course by the first day of the spring semester in order to continue in the internship. See Postponement of Grading on the MSU Registrar’s site for additional information about (I)ncomplete and (D)eferred grades.
TE501, 801 and 802 are taken fall semester, while TE502, 803 and 804 are taken in the spring. These courses work together to support the intern’s development and are intended to be co-requisite, meaning students must enroll in all three required internship courses each semester they are participating in the internship year program.
All Elementary Education teacher candidates must adhere to the Teacher Preparation Program policies.
Elementary Internship Start-Up Checklist
Elementary Teacher Preparation Program seniors followed this procedure during spring semester prior to the internship
The Initial Visit to the School
Preparing for the initial visit to the school
- Call the MT and make appointments for a visit to the classroom so you can see the MT working with students, and set up at least a 30-minute block of time when the two of you can sit down and talk
- Select something that you created during one of your TE courses that you would like to share with the MT in order to help him/her get to know you (e.g., an assignment you completed for TE 301; a lesson plan you taught in TE 401 or TE 402). Decide whether this is something that you will share only during the meeting or if you also want to make a copy that you will leave with the MT to look at more closely later.
- Trade current and summer telephone numbers and addresses. Talk about whether e-mail is a viable way to communicate, and if so, trade e-mail addresses as well. Make arrangements to communicate with each other as needed during the summer.
- Find out when you should first report to school for the fall semester, or talk about how you will find out if you are unable to make that decision during your meeting.
- Find out if the MT’s school district requires teachers to have TB tests. If it does, arrange to take care of that before the beginning of school.
- Show the MT the item you brought to share from one of your TE courses. Help your MT understand what it communicates about you as a beginning teacher, and share other information that will help the MT learn more about you.
- Set up a second visit to the school to gather information that will help you make optimal use of your time during the summer to get ready for the school year. Try to arrange for the second visit to take place before the end of the school year so you have the opportunity to spend time observing in the MT’s classroom. Be sure to also arrange time to talk with the MT as well.
The Follow-Up Visit to the School
If your visit has been scheduled before school is dismissed for the year, observe in the classroom. This is a good opportunity to become familiar with how the classroom is arranged and the types of materials in it. If it is feasible, “tour” the classroom with the MT to hear his/her thinking about the classroom set-up (e.g., where things are kept and why; what materials are available and why; how the classroom set-up is different in spring months than you might expect it to be in the fall).
During your second conversation with the MT, use the following as your agenda:
- Tentatively identify topics in math and literacy that you would plan and teach during the fall Guided Lead Teaching period, which occurs during three weeks in October. Math and literacy are the focus of your fall TE 801 and TE 802 courses, which will provide support for unit planning.
- If possible, get a copy of the printed curriculum for the MT’s grade, so that you can study it during the summer. Especially focus on literacy and math (the focus of fall semester TE 801 and 802).
- Talk about the MT’s general approach to the grade level, subjects and children the MT will be teaching.
- If possible, get copies of some important materials that the MT will be teaching early in fall semester so that you can become familiar with them during the summer. If this is not possible at this time, try to arrange to get the materials at a later date.
- Interns are to report to the MT’s school on the first day that the MT must report there. By mutual agreement, the intern may start earlier (however, needing to earn money to live on during the school year is good reason why the intern cannot report earlier than the official report date). If possible, find out when you should report to school to begin the year. If that is not possible, discuss how/when you fill find out the specific report date.
- Talk about the school dress code and discuss what is appropriate professional attire during days when pupils are not in school (e.g., days for setting up the classroom; in-service days) and days when they are present.
- You and the MT will meet your Field Instructor at the school orientation. Your Field Instructor will work closely with you and your MT across the year to provide support for your professional learning, and lead the TE 501 and 502 seminars.
- If your internship will take place in a teaming situation, be sure to talk with the MT about the Guidelines for Interns in Teaming Situations. For example, discuss how you will have opportunities to teach math and literacy during the fall. Also discuss whether there will be ample opportunities to teach science, social studies, math and literacy during Lead Teaching during the spring.
- No later than August 1 call your MT to confirm when you should first report to the school to begin the year.
- Plan to attend the school orientation with your MT. You will meet your Field Instructor at this meeting. If you were not able to do so during the spring follow-up meeting, identify topics in math and literacy that you will plan and teach during the fall Guided Lead Teaching period, which occurs during three weeks in late October and early November. Math and literacy are the focus of your fall TE 801 and TE 802 courses, which will provide support for unit planning.
- When you report to the school to begin the school year, carefully “tour” the classroom with your MT and discuss what needs to be done to set up the classroom for the school year. Talk with your MT about how you can be as helpful as possible in getting the year started and becoming part of the teaching team. Initiate and suggest ways to be helpful.
- Discuss how the MT will introduce you to the children. One possible introduction is, “You are lucky to have two teachers this year. This is Ms/Mr. ________________, who will be teaching with me this year.”
- Make a plan with the MT for taking on some of the duties in the classroom in the first week or two of the year that will help the students view you as a teacher in the classroom.
- Make a plan for how you will be oriented to the school, personnel, policies, etc.
- Discuss and schedule a regular weekly meeting time when you and your MT can talk. This is an important step to developing an understanding as to how you will work as a teaching team throughout the year and to make sure you are communicating regularly.
- If you are in a teaming situation, make a plan for when/how you will meet and work with other members of the team.
Professional Development Opportunities for Mentor Teachers
In keeping with the policy adopted during the 2004-05 year, interns may provide release time for their Mentor Teachers for up to 5 days (or 10 half-days) for purposes of MT professional development. Interns would provide release time without pay because these five days are above and beyond the 15 days interns are allowed to substitute for pay. The five days are intended to be self-initiated by MTs and complement (not replace) in-service provided by the district.
This is an opportunity for interns to show their appreciation for all the time and effort MTs devote to supporting their learning, and to learn from the MT’s professional development experiences as well. The end of fall semester and spring semester are optimal times for Mentor Teachers with interns to take advantage this opportunity to support their professional growth and build professional community within and across schools.
Here are some ideas:
- A small group of teachers within a building might meet to discuss the implementation of a new instructional model that they want to try (e.g., lesson study, book club, literature circles, writers workshop), or to share and gather new resource materials for their teaching.
- A small group of teachers from the same grade level might meet to share ideas about how they assess student learning and use that information to plan for further instruction.
- Pairs of teachers might observe in each other’s classrooms to discuss their own teaching in a particular subject matter.
- Pairs of teachers might observe each other’s interns teaching to discuss their mentoring practices.
- Teachers from different schools might observe each other to become familiar with how a program is implemented in a particular subject matter area.
- Teachers might choose to attend a workshop or conference on a topic of interest, e.g., the Michigan Reading Association Conference; Michigan Association for Computer Use in Learning [MACUL].
This list is just a sample of the types of opportunities of which MTs could take advantage. Please share additional ideas you have with others in your building! We are hoping that MTs will follow up by sharing what they are learning with other MTs and interns.