Welcome to the Elementary Teacher Preparation Program,
We're pleased that you have decided to work with a teacher candidate as a Mentor Teacher. We know that with your busy
schedule and the heavy demands of teaching, it is a challenge to find time to work with another adult in the classroom.
We have prepared this guide to provide useful information about our program and policies that apply to the teacher
candidates working in your classroom, and to provide suggestions for helping teacher candidates get the most out of the
time they spend with you.
We hope that you will find the information useful and encourage you to make suggestions regarding additional information
that you would find helpful.
Contact Information for Elementary Teacher Education Personnel
The 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 (MTs) in schools who support the teacher candidates’ school-based learning.
A Program Director represents the program in the Teacher Education Department’s development of program and policy,
which includes approaches to working with schools. The Program Director coordinates communication and curriculum
development among faculty, graduate students who teach courses and with Mentor Teachers. The Program Director is
available to talk with any participant about program development, courses, personnel, policy, or other ideas they wish to
An Elementary Pre-Internship Coordinator assists the Program Director in program staffing, communication with the
Teacher Education Department and schools, and curriculum development. The Elementary Pre-Internship Coordinator
makes field placements as well as fosters communication among course instructors, teacher candidates, and Mentor
Teachers during the field experience and assists in developing innovative mentoring practices. She is available to talk with
any participant in the teacher education program about program development, courses, personnel, policy, or other ideas
they wish to discuss.
A Secretary maintains student records and assists the Coordination Personnel in maintaining communication among all
participants in the program.
Field Placements and Responsibilities of Program Participants
Organization of Field Placements
The Elementary Pre-Internship Coordinator works with the principals to place juniors and seniors, and to facilitate
communication between Teacher Preparation Program (TPP), Course Instructors and each school’s MTs and Principal.
The Elementary Pre-Internship Coordinator assures that all teacher candidates have suitable field placements and
assures that all teacher candidates are well supported, supervised, and evaluated.
A set of 2-3 schools is associated with each section of TE 403/4/5/6 (senior level courses). While some field placement
schools may include the schools in the internship clusters (where 5th year interns are placed), some field placement
schools work only with juniors and seniors.
Seniors are generally in their field placements by October 1 and remain there for the MSU academic school year for 4
hours a week. In some cases, senior placements may change for Spring Semester.
TE301 has two components: a class component and a field component that requires working one-on-one with a child
(referred to as “child study student”) between grades 1-4 for a total of 45 minutes at least once per week. The child can be
someone the junior already knows (e.g., a relative; someone the junior babysits for; the child of a co-worker; a child the
junior is acquainted with through a church, synagogue, mosque, or other religious group) or the Elementary Pre-Internship
Coordinator can help arrange access to a child through a school setting.
Responsibility in Working with Teacher Candidates
The Teacher Preparation Program is designed to have juniors and seniors participate regularly in local classrooms (see
) The Elementary Pre-Internship Coordinator and principals identify (MTs) who
would like to work with juniors in conjunction with TE 301, or seniors in conjunction with senior-year methods courses, TE
403, 404, 405 and 406. These courses focus on the following content:
- TE 301 (Fall or Spring): Learners, Learning, and Teaching in Context (classroom management, motivating
students to learn, lesson planning, child study, emergent literacy)
- Fall (TE 403 and 404): Teaching Subject Matter to Diverse Learners (curriculum, planning and assessment in
social studies and science.)
- Spring (TE 405 and 406): Crafting Teaching Practice (curriculum, planning and assessment in math and literacy.)
Instructors work toward helping the seniors make progress in several areas aimed toward learning to build inclusive
learning communities for diverse learners:
- Constructing their own stance toward teaching in these subject matters
- Building their knowledge and skill in using a range of teaching strategies, tasks and resources that are consistent
with their stance and meet the needs of diverse learners
- Developing knowledge of curriculum, planning and assessment
- Understanding children and adolescents as learners
- Understanding themselves as learners and colleagues
Mentor Teachers are Teacher Educators and Learners
Mentor Teachers who have worked with seniors have reported many advantages to opening their classroom to novices
who are learning to teach, and taking on the role of teacher educator.
- They appreciate having another adult in the room that can provide instructional support, and enjoy having
conversations about their students, curriculum and approaches to teaching in a variety of subject matter areas.
- They say it stretches them professionally to explain their thinking and share ideas about their professional
practice. The conversations get them thinking about the reasons behind their practice that sometimes don’t surface while they're so immersed in carrying out day-to-day teaching.
- MTs also learn from the seniors when the teacher candidates share materials and ideas they are learning about in
their course work.
- Discussions with other MTs, who are working with seniors, coordinators, and Course Instructors help them think
about ways to enhance the support they provide to seniors during the pre-internship year.
In short, MTs get some instructional support in the classroom that also contributes to the seniors' professional growth,
while they are expanding their own professional learning.
An overview of what to expect when working with a junior or senior
Arrangements for Classroom Participation
- TE 301 teacher candidates spend 45 minutes per week in direct contact with a “child study” student, who could be
accessed in a variety of settings (see above). They engage in activities related to literacy learning. They prepare
for their interaction with their study child and analyze their work with the child using the remainder of the course
time designated for field work. They begin this experience beginning about the third week in September for the fall
semester and about the third week in January for the spring semester.
- TE 403/4/5/6 teacher candidates spend 4 hours per week in classrooms (usually beginning about the third week
in September), typically in two-hour blocks on two different days of the week or one four hour block once a week.
Field placement times are arranged between the teacher candidate and the MT in order to meet the requirements
of the teacher candidate’s course and the schedule of the MT.
- Typically, between one and four teacher candidates are assigned to the same classroom, depending on what the
Mentor Teacher prefers.
Teacher Candidates’ Responsibilities
TE 403, 404, 405, and 406 course instructors assign the teacher candidates several "field assignments" to complete while
they are in the classroom that focus specifically on course related issues, such as particular subject matter areas for TE
403/4/5/6 (science, social studies, literacy, math).
TE 301 students engage their study child in literacy activities.
TE 403-406 (seniors) might be asked to plan and teach a subject-specific lesson, read a book to the class, work with
small groups, assist children with individual work, assist with assessment activities, interview students, or collect and
analyze students' written work. By the second semester seniors take on increasingly complex activities. Juniors and
seniors coordinate course requirements and due dates with the ongoing classroom curriculum.
Course instructors also expect the seniors to become involved in the regular routines of the classroom as much as
possible. For instance, they might take roll, escort children to the art or music room, help with playground duty, or assist in
getting materials ready to be sent home.
Seniors arrange a time to meet on a regular basis with the Mentor Teacher to discuss their field assignments and options
for their ongoing classroom participation. If the senior's schedule does not permit time to talk during the regular school
day, arrangements should be made to either meet before or after school, or to converse on the telephone at a mutually
The TE program has firm expectations that juniors and seniors participate in their field placement on a regular basis.
Teacher candidates are expected to notify their course instructor, the Pre-Internship Coordinator, and their MT of any
necessary absences ahead of time, and have to make up any missed field time.
Any unexcused absences greater than 2 (e.g., without timely communication with the instructor, pre-internship
coordinator, and/or the Mentor Teacher, or absences without adequate reasons) from class or in the field is cause for
concern. Recurring absences or tardiness will put the teacher candidate's recommendation for continuation in the program
Teacher candidates will use the Attendance Field Log regularly. Teacher candidates will dress appropriately and
professionally. They should check with the MT and follow what is typically expected of teachers in the building. Teacher
candidates will follow the Professional Conduct Policy for MSU Teacher Candidates (see Professional Conduct)
Course Instructors’ Responsibilities
Instructors provide written information and a specific calendar of events to seniors and MTs regarding TE 403/4/5/6
course content and their expectations for field assignments. They also provide contact information (telephone, e-mail
address) to the teacher candidate and MT.
Instructors help teacher candidates coordinate course requirements and due dates with the ongoing classroom
Instructors respond to MTs' and teacher candidates' questions about course content or field assignments.
Instructors help prepare the teacher candidates to act professionally in the classroom and work in partnership with the MT
to ensure a positive learning experience.
Pre-Internship Coordinator’s Responsibilities
Coordinators make field placements for juniors who need help identifying a child study student and seniors enrolled in TE
403, TE 404, TE 405, and TE 406.
Coordinators foster communication among course instructors, MTs and teacher candidates.
Coordinators monitor field placement and trouble shoot any problems that arise in the field.
Mentor Teachers’ Responsibilities
Mentor Teachers who work with juniors and/or seniors should be willing to discuss course content and expectations for
field assignments and ongoing classroom participation with the Coordinator and/or Course Instructor. This is also an
opportunity for MTs to give feedback and suggestions about course requirements.
MTs arrange a time to meet as needed with a junior or regularly with the senior to discuss course assignments and the
teacher candidate's ongoing involvement in the classroom. Teacher candidates' schedules are very tight, so these regular
meetings may need to take place before or after school, or on the telephone at a mutually agreeable time.
MTs should contact the Course Instructor with questions or problems related to course content or field assignments.
If other problems with a teacher candidate occur (e.g., attendance, punctuality) the Coordinator or Course Instructor
should be contacted immediately.
MTs also are asked to fill out a feedback form about their teacher candidates' classroom participation, based on their
observations and interactions with the teacher candidate and in accordance with the Criteria for Progression to the
Internship (see Part D. in the Criteria for Progression). The Attendance
Field Log should provide valuable information for the feedback form
Use of an Attendance Field Log in the Classroom
The MT and teacher candidate will use a field log to keep track of attendance in the field placement classroom. The
teacher candidate will bring to and maintain in the classroom an attendance log to be accessible to both the MT and the
The teacher candidate is responsible for recording attendance (both arrival and departure time) for each day present in
the classroom and for acquiring a MT signature for each day of attendance.
Helping Teacher Candidates Get the Most out of their Field Experiences
In most cases, you will be working with a person who, quite understandably, has a student's habits of seeing, hearing,
interpreting, and acting. That person needs both opportunities and help to start constructing a teacher's habits of seeing,
hearing, interpreting, and acting. These suggestions begin with the first moment that the teacher candidate walks into your
classroom to meet you.
Introduce the teacher candidate to your pupils as Mr. or Ms. ________, a "teacher candidate," someone who is
preparing to be a teacher and who will be working with you for the next few months.
Keep the candidate near you, in a teacher's place rather than a student's place, where you can easily and quickly
say something to the candidate, hand the candidate something, ask the candidate something, or tell the candidate to do
something. This will help to put the candidate into the role of an apprentice or junior colleague who needs to see, hear,
and think like a teacher. This useful interaction can go on even in 10-second moments of time.
Tell and show the candidate what's going on in your mind. As students, teacher candidates have watched and
listened to teachers for thousands of hours. Seldom will they have had any similar opportunity to learn what teachers think
about while they are teaching. Show the candidate whatever you have in the way of curriculum and plans. Tell the
candidate your immediate goals, or alternatives that you are considering. Let the candidate know when you've done
something that you would be proud to repeat, or that you wish you had done another way.
Ask the candidate to tell you what s/he is reading, discussing, doing in the TE classes. As you listen to the
response, you probably will hear opportunities to help the candidate connect what s/he is studying with what s/he is
seeing, hearing, and doing in your class and school.
Get the candidate involved with students in small ways. Give the candidate the class list to memorize. Ask the
candidate to work with particular students or small groups by tutoring, listening to students read, studying their work, etc.
In this way the candidate can work up to the teaching assignments they will receive in TE 401 and TE 402.
Give small pieces of your work to the candidate, with supervision. For example, ask the candidate to help you
monitor seatwork, group work, lab work, or work in activity centers. Or, ask the candidate to help you respond to students'
written work. As you assign such tasks, tell the candidate what you'll be looking for and doing, so that the candidate can
try to do likewise.
Ask the candidate to observe students closely. Teacher candidates need to build an informed and empathetic idea of
the diversity of students in typical classrooms. Candidates can do this by keeping an eye on particular students as the semester progresses, working with them regularly, keeping a collection of the students' work, keeping a journal of their
interactions with the selected students, etc.
Ask the candidate to take observation and note-taking breaks. It can be hard to make sense of what's going on at the
same time as you're trying to play (an unfamiliar) part in it. Frequently, teacher candidates will have course assignments
that require them to gather information from your class. Ask the candidate to take periodic breaks to observe, reflect,
analyze, and write notes.
Anticipate and arrange opportunities for the candidate to teach, in small chunks. For TE 401 and TE 402, teacher
candidates usually have assignments to plan and teach a short unit, or a sequence of lessons of different types or on
different topics. Instructors should send you descriptions of these assignments. You are welcome to comment to the
instructor on those assignments. By anticipating these assignments and planning ahead with the teacher candidate, you
best can make the assignment work out for you and for your class.
Share the professional norms of your school. In every school, the staff more or less shares some ideas about how
members of the staff should (and should not) act or interact. These norms are not highly visible to students. You can help
the candidate to notice these norms both by giving your own account of them and by arranging opportunities for the
candidate to ask other staff members about them.
The Teacher Candidate should:
- Take an active interest in the school class:
- make a map of the classroom—furniture ,equipment, supplies
- learn the students' names
- prepare questions to discuss with the MT during planning/lunch time or after school
- observe lessons and ask questions about them
- survey the curriculum and instructional materials for the class
- keep a journal or log about their participation in the class
- Work with and observe students:
- observe, interact with, and examine the written work of two or three students over time
- observe and analyze how students get along with each other and with adults in the classroom, hallways, school
- help students to practice skills
- monitor and help students in group work or seat work
- work with students at computers, in labs, or at activity centers
- Take on small parts of the teacher's work, with supervision:
- complete classroom routines like taking attendance or lunch counts, collecting and distributing papers, etc.
- respond to student journals
- grade papers with direction from the MT
- locate, gather, prepare, label instructional materials
- prepare or help to prepare a bulletin board
- help plan and make arrangements for a field trip
- observe the class to gather data that the Mentor Teacher wants (decide on a particular focus ahead of time)
- in lower grades, assist students in getting their coats and shoes on, lining up, walking from place to place, etc.
- With guidance and assistance, teach small group or whole class lessons:
- develop and lead an opening or closing activity
- plan and provide a presentation within a lesson
- in lower grades, prepare and read a story or book chapter, plan and teach a get-to-know-you activity, or lead
- co-plan a lesson with the Mentor Teacher
- co-teach lessons with the Mentor Teacher
- In TE 403, 404, 405, and 406, plan and teach a short unit, series of lessons, or set of lessons:
- the assignment will be given by the TE 403, 404, 405 or 406 instructor
- you can help by consulting with the candidate about the unit and/or lesson plans, and by providing feedback on
the lessons when they have been taught
- Become acquainted with the school and its staff:
- visit the school office, and talk with the principal, assistant principal, or secretary
- visit the school library or media center, talk with the media specialist, and observe students working there
- visit the teacher's workroom, and learn about the equipment available to teachers in the school
- read the school's policies on attendance, safety, discipline, referrals to service, contacts with parents, etc
Core Mentoring Practices
Core Mentoring Practices (PDF)