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 discuss.
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.
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.
TE 301 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. In the fall and spring semesters, this placement is arranged by the Elementary Pre-Internship Coordinator with a local public school. In the summer, teacher candidates locate their own child study student. The child can be someone the junior already knows or the Elementary Pre-Internship Coordinator can help arrange access to a child.
Working with Teacher Candidates
The Teacher Preparation Program is designed to have juniors and seniors participate regularly in local classrooms. The Elementary Pre-Internship Coordinator, along building administration, identify teachers 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, Spring, or Summer): Learners, Learning, and Teaching in Context (motivation, literacy assessment, analyzing assessments to plan instruction, lesson planning, and emergent literacy content)
- Fall (TE 403 and 404): Teaching Subject Matter to Diverse Learners (curriculum, planning and assessment in science and social studies)
- Spring (TE 405 and 406): Crafting Teaching Practice (curriculum, planning and assessment in literacy and math)
The Teacher Preparation Program is designed to work toward helping teacher candidates make progress in several areas aimed in building 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 work with teacher candidates report many advantages of opening their classroom to novices who are learning to teach. Mentor teachers take 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 are stretched professionally by explaining their thinking and sharing ideas about their professional practice. The conversations get them thinking about the reasons behind their practice that sometimes do not surface while they are immersed in carrying out day-to-day teaching.
- MTs learn from the seniors, when they collaborate using materials and ideas from the MSU coursework.
- 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 benefit professionally from this experience.
Teacher Candidates’ Responsibilities
Teacher candidates will follow all Teacher Preparation Program policies and procedures, as well as requirements found in the course syllabus.
- Teacher candidates will follow the course syllabus found on Desire2Learn (D2L)
- Teacher candidates will follow the Professional Conduct Policy for MSU Teacher Candidates (see Professional Conduct)
- Teacher candiates will follow the Criteria for Progression to the Internship (see Policies – Teacher Preparation – College of Education – Michigan State University)
- Teacher candidates will follow the Technical Standards (see education.msu.edu/academics/undergraduate/documents/TeacherPrep_TechnicalStandards.pdf)
Course Instructors’ Responsibilities
- Provide written information and a specific calendar of events to seniors and mentor teachers regarding TE 403/404/405/406 course content and their expectations for field assignments
- Provide contact information (telephone, e-mail address) to the teacher candidate and mentor
- Assist teacher candidates in working with mentor teachers to fulfill assignments
- Respond to mentors’ and teacher candidates’ questions about course content or field assignments
- Assist teacher candidates in the development of their professional persona
Pre-Internship Coordinator’s Responsibilities
- 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
- Facilitate communication among course instructors, mentors, and teacher candidates
- Monitor field placements and assist with problem solving regarding concerns that arise in the field
Mentor Teachers’ Responsibilities
TE 301 Mentor Teachers
- Work with building administration to idenify students who will work with teacher candidates during the scheduled hours of the course
- Work with course instructors to schedule blocks of time in which the teacher candidates can observe the child study student during literacy instruction time in the classroom
TE 403/404/405/406 Mentor Teachers
- Work with teacher candidates four hours a week in the classroom in the four content areas
- Arrange field placement times with the teacher candidates in order to meet the requirements of the teacher candidate’s course and the schedule of the mentor
- Arrange a time to meet as needed or regularly with teacher cnadidate to discuss course assignments and teacher candidates’ ongoing involvement in the classroom
- Discuss course content and expectations for field assignments and ongoing classroom participation with the coordinator and/or course instructor
- Validate the teacher candidate field log
- Complete the field assessment
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 candidates to tell you what they are reading, discussing, doing in the TE classes. As you listen to the response, you will probably hear opportunities to help the candidate connect the course materials to what is being seen, heard, or done in the classroom.
Involve the teacher candidates with students in small ways. Make the classlist available to the teacher candidate. Ask the candidate to work with particular students or small groups by tutoring, listening to students read, studying their work, etc.
Give small responsibilities 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.
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 grounds
- 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 singing
- 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