Description of Field Experiences
Field experiences are planned and implemented by the elementary faculty who work closely with school personnel to provide candidates with meaningful, appropriate experiences. These experiences are chosen and assigned to allow candidates to work with diverse populations.
Numerous experiences allow them to work with a variety of students in varied settings at multiple grade levels. This allows them to gain a breadth of experience that represents the scope of their license. Most candidates work in small and large schools and in rural and suburban schools.
All complete at least one field experience in a cross-cultural setting.
Early Field Experiences
The early field experiences begin with the prerequisite course Introduction to Education and give University students interested in education the opportunity to explore a career in teaching. They are expected to make connections between what they see in PK-12 classrooms and the issues and ideas that are discussed in the course. Reflection and analysis are major goals of the course as University students look at classrooms from a teacher’s—rather than a student’s—perspective.
Elementary candidates complete four field experiences (totaling approximately 250 hours in classrooms) prior to student teaching. In each experience, they apply the topics, knowledge, and strategies studied in the concurrent courses. The expectations are developmental and increase with each experience.
For example, in the first practicum once they are enrolled in the program, the students plan, implement, and evaluate a mini-unit. In the second practicum, they plan and teach an extensive unit (preprimary) or complete an in-depth curriculum analysis (middle level). Their performance is judged at a higher level. Though performance expectations and depth of assignments increase as the candidates develop, certain aspects of the experience are consistent.
Students are expected to keep a reflective/analytical journal, observe students, interview and collaborate with teachers and other professionals, teach lessons or in some way work with students.
Following the Teacher Education integrative model, candidates also are expected to explore instructional technology and student diversity present in every clinical experience. In addition, the candidates observe students, build relationships with cooperating teachers, plan and teach lessons, explore and analyze instructional technology and student diversity.