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Appendix D - Student Teaching FAQs


1. What is student teaching?

Student teaching serves as the culminating experience. You will have a chance to demonstrate how you are qualified, competent, and how you are as a teacher who cares about making a difference in the lives of kids. During this enlightening experience, there will be evaluations of your professional competence as an effective teacher. Various opportunities will be provided for professional development as well as opportunities for your personal and professional reflection.

Student teaching will provide the teacher candidate with experience in:

  • planning, implementing, and assessing a CCSS/standards-based unit;
  • managing the classroom learning environment;
  • interacting with students using a variety of teaching methodologies, including the use of technology;
  • incorporating a multiple-measures approach to assessment;
  • opportunities to evaluate students’ cognitive, affective, and psychomotor growth;
  • the NYS Learning Standards/CCSS and corresponding assessments;
  • opportunities for parent and community interaction;
  • developing self-reflection for continued professional growth; and
  • working with students with special needs, disabilities, etc.

2. How do I qualify for Student Teaching?

As an undergraduate, what must I do in order to qualify for student teaching?
As a graduate M.S.T. student, what must I do in order to qualify for student teaching?
  • Please make an appointment with your advisor to go over your graduation checklist. Review the M.S.T. program requirements: childhood education or adolescence education.
  • Please remember that additional course work may NOT be taken during student teaching.

3. What Combined Programs do you offer?

4. In addition to the academic qualifications, what other requirements must be met prior to an actual undergraduate or graduate student teaching experience?

Other requirements include:

  • certification by physician;
  • completion of the Student Teaching Application with the following requirements met:
    • payment of application fee (Student Accounts Office);
    • submission of a well-written and dynamic resume and cover letter;
    • submission of required forms:
      1. Verification of Non-Felony Status
      2. Housing Verification Form
      3. Medical Certification Form
      4. Acknowledgment of Receipt: NYS Certification Requirements
      5. Current Degree Works (undergraduates & combined programs) BANNER Transcript & Graduation Checklist (graduate)
  • as of fall 2007, all student teachers will be preregistered for student teaching. It is your responsibility to confirm that you are in the appropriate section with the appropriate supervisor;
  • making living arrangements within your assigned student teaching region;
  • making your own transportation arrangements; and
  • planning ahead for the extra financial responsibilities faced by teacher candidates.

5. Once I have met all requirements, how will I be placed?

  • After considering a number of variables, the Office of Student Teaching, in consultation with the teacher education unit coordinators and supervisors, will provide you with your regional assignment, and later, your final classroom placements.
  • When you apply for student teaching, you will be asked to rank order a list of preferred “regions” for placements. Once all student teaching applications have been accepted, you will be assigned a region.
  • During your student teaching semester, you will receive, two quarterly assignments, each eight weeks in length. Each quarterly placement will differ: a) assigned to a new school or classroom; b) assigned to a new professional development educator; c) assigned to a different grade level, depending on their first quarter placement (e.g., primary to intermediate school, middle thigh school, special education to elementary education).

6. I know a teacher and/or several teachers who would be willing to supervise me during student teaching. May I work with them?

  • Teacher candidates may not solicit their own placements and professional development educators may not solicit their own teacher candidates. This long-standing policy ensures that teacher candidates receive “unbiased” placements in a consistent and equitable manner. There are a variety of reasons for this policy including:
    • equitable treatment of all teacher candidates;
    • recognition of existing placement agreements with partnering districts;
    • geographic location of college field supervisors;
    • assurance that Plattsburgh’s programs are continuous and well integrated;
    • Plattsburgh’s commitment to ensure continuity with national accreditation standards (TEAC);
    • assurance that Plattsburgh’s program familiarizes teacher candidates with NYS Learning Standards/CCSS and related assessments; and
    • avoid being placed in a district which employs family/relative/friends and/or a district where either your own children or siblings are enrolled.

7. My hometown is near Rochester [or any area, domestic or foreign, outside of SUNY Plattsburgh’s placement regions]. May I student teach in that area?

  • No. SUNY Plattsburgh’s placement process takes into account the following factors:
    • equitable treatment of all teacher candidates;
    • recognition of existing placement agreements with partnering districts;
    • geographic location of college field supervisors;
    • assurance that SUNY Plattsburgh’s programs are continuous and well integrated;
    • SUNY Plattsburgh’s commitment to ensure continuity with national accreditation standards (TEAC);
    • assurance that SUNY Plattsburgh’s program familiarizes teacher candidates with NYS learning standards and related assessments; and
    • avoid being placed in a district which employs family/relative/friends and/or a district where either your own children or siblings are enrolled.

8. Even though I took most or all of my education courses at another university, may I take student teaching through SUNY Plattsburgh? OR May I take student teaching at another university and transfer the course/credit to SUNY Plattsburgh?

No. Most universities are reluctant or unwilling to offer — or to accept — this culminating course without being familiar with an individual teacher candidate’s readiness or background preparation. SUNY Plattsburgh’s on-campus requirement for undergraduates that all teacher candidates must receive 30 of their final 36 credits through on-campus courses precludes transferring such credit-bearing courses as student teaching.

9. When and how do I indicate my preference for a particular placement “region?”

At the beginning of each spring semester, the Office of Field Experience/Student Teaching offers mandatory application sessions tall graduate and undergraduate teacher candidates who are eligible to student teach the following academic year. During these sessions, prospective fall and spring teacher candidates are provided with information pertaining to student teaching, NYS teacher certification, the NYS teacher certification examination process, as well as a variety of other relevant topics. Attendance at the mandatory application session, and the completion of the application packet begins a process in which the student indicates his/her interest in student teaching during the fall or spring semester of the next academic year. You will rank the order of your regional assignment preference on your application.

10. What are the chances of receiving my first choice of regional assignments?

  • Each year hundreds of undergraduate and graduate childhood education, adolescence education, and special education students are provided with student teaching placements. Depending upon the region and a few other factors, most of the teacher candidates typically receive their first, second, or third choice of region (excluding the CVES region).
  • Regional placements are posted the first week of September for spring student teaching and by the third week of March for fall student teaching. When the regional placements are posted, teacher candidates have a one week window of time to meet with the director of field experience.
  • The “CVES” region (Region 7) is used by SUNY Plattsburgh for all early field experiences prior to student teaching. This averages 100-200 placements per semester in the CVES region. Therefore, student teaching placements will be extremely limited in the Region 7 area. There are no guarantees. Priority for Region 7 placements go to earlier field experience – prior to student teaching.
  • The maximum number of student teachers for Region 7 is generally limited to 30 student teachers — depending upon various factors. Placing 30 student teachers in Region 7 will require 60 PDEs. There are times, however, when other regions are at capacity. If such situations occur, then randomly chosen student teachers will be relocated. In addition, if there are situations when even Region 7 is at capacity, then there is a remote possibility that student teachers even with documented hardships might have to endure commuting to another region. Such situations could possible occur when there are limited amount of tenured PDEs in given areas of certification.
  • Region 7 School Districts: CVES, Ausable Valley, Beekmantown, Chazy, Northeastern Clinton, Northern Adirondack, Peru, Plattsburgh, Saranac, Westport, and Willsboro.

11. What types of situations would be given serious consideration under the “hardship” provision for placement in any region?

  • If you meet any of the following criteria, the Office of Field Experience/Student Teaching will make a good-faith effort for the placement process. Due to various factors, we cannot make any guarantees. Although individual cases vary, examples of “hardship” which have been honored in the past include:
    • verifiable third party legal obligations (marital obligations, parental obligations, home ownership); and
    • verifiable ADA or medical considerations.

12. What are some commonly expressed concerns that would not qualify under the “hardship” provision?

  • The Office of Field Experience/Student Teaching identifies with the unique and special challenges faced by teacher candidates. Although difficult or inconvenient, the following circumstances do not qualify as “hardships”:
    • Loss of Part-Time or Temporary Employment: Teacher candidates are strongly encouraged to refrain and/or cut-back from additional job-related activities due to the demanding nature of their teaching assignments;
    • Transportation Limitations/No Car: All teacher candidates will need to overcome this obstacle. Teacher candidates are encouraged to find creative ways to plan for — and address — this need;
    • Transportation Expenses: Due to exponential increases in gas prices, all teacher candidates should budget appropriately and seek creative solutions: relocating, carpooling, public transportation, etc.;
    • Club/Organization/Athletic Commitments: Again, teacher candidates are strongly encouraged to refrain from additional, non-teaching activities outside of their immediate placements. Athletic commitments at SUNY Plattsburgh do not qualify for Region 7 placement;
    • Lease Commitments: Teacher candidates are asked to plan for these eventualities as much as one year in advance of their student teaching experience. Making well-planned living arrangements prior to student teaching should be part of this process (if student teaching in the spring semester, do not sign a one-year lease); and
    • Expense of Relocation: Again, teacher candidates should have planned well in advance of their student teaching experience. All prospective teacher candidates should anticipate incurring additional expenses during this time. Good financial planning (e.g., preparing the necessary FAF forms, preparing savings for additional expenses) is vitally important for this time period.

13. What specific considerations are taken into account when making my student teaching placements?

  • There are many factors that receive consideration in making a teacher candidate’s final placements. Some of these factors include, but are not limited to:
    • Geographic Location:
      1. placements are made within the Eastern Upstate NY corridor between Albany and the Canadian border, and in New York City; and
      2. some districts are too remote or cannot offer a sufficient number of qualified PDEs within any given semester. Some may not be accessible to SUNY Plattsburgh’s college field supervisors.
    • Commitments to Partnering School Districts:
      1. In order to ensure program consistency and program continuity, SUNY Plattsburgh has established partnerships with a variety of school districts within eastern Upstate New York and in New York City. These partnerships, by their nature, limit the number and the location of available placements.
      2. In some areas within SUNY Plattsburgh’s placement region, where teacher education programs overlap, competition for sponsoring districts and for cooperating teachers reduces the number of available placement sites. These trends, in combination with the fact that some districts and some principals limit the number of times a PDE may host teacher candidates, significantly impact the number and availability of PDEs. Some districts actually have policies that do not allow teachers to sponsor teacher candidates.
    • Factors Affecting the Number of Available Professional Development Educators (PDEs):
      1. the number of PDEs within any given area of certification or geographic region;
      2. the number of PDEs possessing tenure or administrative approval;
      3. the number of PDEs who possess effective mentoring skills;
      4. the number of PDEs approved for service by the building/district administrator;
      5. the number of PDEs who are allowed to mentor teacher candidates;
      6. the number of eligible PDEs involved in district mentoring or other projects;
      7. the position of teachers’ unions relative to PDE service; and
      8. the number of eligible PDEs already hosting — or planning to host — other field experience teacher candidates.
    • Availability of College Field Supervisors (CFS):
      1. the number of available supervisors within any given region;
      2. supervisor rotation (some supervisors only serve on an “every-other-semester” basis);
      3. the number of teacher candidates a supervisor is able to accept (e.g., maximum caseload size 16-18 teacher candidates);
      4. supervisors have a limited travel radius (economy of time, supervision, grouping, and instruction); and
      5. supervisors need to be within a reasonable distance of a teacher candidate should an emergency occur; TEAC and NYSED restrictions require that SUNY Plattsburgh must employ qualified CFSs (e.g., certification/experiential background consistent with the teacher candidates’ certification area).
    • Enrollment/Participation Trends:
      1. the number of graduate and/or undergraduate teacher candidates seeking to student teach within any given semester;
      2. the number of teacher candidates applying to student teach within a certain specified region;
      3. the number of teacher candidates applying to student teach from the same or different programs;
      4. the number of teacher candidates who present valid “third-party legal obligations”; and
      5. the number of teacher candidates who present valid ADA (disabilities) or medical concerns.
    • Departmental Consideration & Constraints:
      1. early in the education program SUNY Plattsburgh endeavors to place teacher candidates in or near the Plattsburgh region. This is done to ease travel restrictions faced by teacher candidates who may not have access to personal transportation. As a result, the number of available student teaching placements within a 45 minute radius of Plattsburgh are extremely limited;
      2. the Office of Field Experience/Student Teaching endeavors to provide all teacher candidates with equitable, “unbiased” assignments (e.g., with PDEs not previously known to the teacher candidate and within districts which do not represent “home” districts to the teacher candidate or to the teacher candidate’s children);
      3. significant budgetary constraints: SUNY Plattsburgh has a limited mileage reimbursement budget. Placements are often grouped for a variety of practical reasons, including financial feasibility;
      4. final placements are based, in part, on input from the education faculty, faculty members within students’ areas of concentration, and the dean of students;
      5. after all applicable “screens” are employed, a lottery-type assignment process is employed for all high demand regions and teaching subject areas; and
      6. “group” assignments of two or more teacher candidates requesting regions 1–6 and 8 receive priority and offer varied support to group members.

14. When am I notified of my regional assignment and my particular school placement?

  • In general, regional assignments will be posted in the Office of Field Experience/Student Teaching, Sibley Hall, Room 300, and at the SUNY Plattsburgh branch campus (SUNY Adirondack) as follows:
    • Fall semester applicants — third week of March
    • Spring semester applicants — first week of September
  • After the regional assignments are posted, I allow a one week “due process” period of listening to student questions and/or regarding their regional assignment. I will review each situation and carefully weigh all possible options before I make a decision regarding any possible changes. Please refer to #10 & #11 above.
  • Your specific placement assignments will be available the Office of Field Experience/Student Teaching, Sibley Hall, Room 300, and at the branch campus, as follows:
    • Fall semester applications — second week of May
    • Spring semester applications — third week in November
  • This information will include the name of your college field supervisor, your school placement, the name of your professional development educator and contact information.

15. What are the various “regions” within SUNY Plattsburgh’s student teaching program?

  • The Office of Field Experience/Student Teaching currently has placement opportunities in eight different regions. These include:
    • Region I: Targeted Partnering Districts: Albany, Schenectady, Stillwater, North & South Colonie, & Guilderland;
    • Region II: Targeted Partnering Districts: Saratoga, Schuylerville, Corinth, & Greenwich;
    • Region III: Targeted Partnering Districts: Glens Falls, Hudson Falls, Cambridge, Queensbury, Fort Ann, & parts of Lake George;
    • Region IV: Targeted Partnering Districts: Lake Placid, Tupper Lake, Saranac Lake, Keene Valley, & Elizabethtown;
    • Region V: Targeted Partnering Districts: Malone & Chateauguay;
    • Region VI: Targeted Partnering Districts: Ticonderoga, Westport, Moriah, Elizabethtown, & Crown Point;
    • Region VII: Any Targeted Partnering District in CVES Region. Placement in Region VII is extremely limited; and
    • Region VIII: Targeted Partnering Districts in NYC.

16. After receiving my regional placement, how do I begin to find housing arrangements?

  • Although the process of finding new living arrangements can be a challenging time in your pre-service career, you are encouraged to approach this requirement with optimism and a sense of adventure. As you begin to search for suitable housing, you are encouraged to keep the following points in mind:
    • a housing list is available in the Office of Field Experience/Student Teaching. You may wish to review this list for options within your placement region;
    • while engaging in your search, it is good to remember that during your student teaching semester, you will receive two quarterly assignments. As these placements may involve different schools in different locations, you should consider a location central to your region;
    • regional requirements vary. Depending upon your placement, look for accommodations that address these variables. For example:
      • You live in Dannemora, N.Y. and you receive a placement in Region IV: Saranac Lake/Lake Placid. You may wish to:
        1. commute from your house;
        2. live in Lake Placid knowing that one quarterly placement will probably involve a short commute to Saranac Lake; or
        3. live in Saranac Lake knowing that one quarterly placement will probably involve a short commute to Lake Placid.
      • You live off-campus in Plattsburgh, N.Y. and you receive a placement in Region II: Saratoga. You may wish to:
        1. live at home, Schuylerville (you like the area, free food and housing); or
        2. live in Saratoga Springs (Saratoga is central to all the school districts within the region).
    • find housing arrangements that contain as few distractions as possible. Student teaching requires that you are both rested and well-prepared;
    • you may wish to ask teacher candidates who were formerly placed in your region what accommodations and other points of interest they might recommend;
    • remember, it is your responsibility to secure your own living (and transportation) arrangements; and
    • if you choose to live in the SUNY Plattsburgh residence halls, then you need to be aware of their policies and procedures. Remember that during student teaching you follow the PK–12 school calendar. As stated in your “Residence Hall License Agreement,” you are responsible for the extra charges during the SUNY Plattsburgh vacation.

17. Once I have received my placement, who can I rely on to offer me advice, information and support?

  • SUNY Plattsburgh hires experienced college field supervisors to provide you with ongoing information and support. Your supervisor is an experienced educator with many years of teaching and/or administrative experience.
  • In addition to your college field supervisor, many students find that they can readily rely on guidance and the expertise of their professional development educator. You may wish to consult with other individuals during your field experience which could include: fellow teacher candidates, the Office of Field Experience/Student Teaching, the director of field experience/student teaching, college faculty members, and your advisor.

18. What type of “clearance” do I need for student teaching?

  • For your student teaching application, you will need to sign an “Affidavit” and a “Verification of Conviction/Non-conviction Status.”
  • As stated in the Teacher Candidates’ Roles and Responsibilities Section, you are required to complete the NYSED Fingerprinting Process BEFORE student teaching.

19. I just recently signed a contract after graduating, but another school district wants to hire me. This district has a better pay scale than my original offer. This position is more desirable than the one I previously accepted. Can I just accept the new position?

  • Professionally, not a good idea. You could, conceivably, be held legally liable for “breach of contract” — binding agreement between you and the school district that hired you. Ethically, also not a good idea. You made a commitment to the learning community of the district that invested their time, resources, and their faith in you to honor that commitment. According to the New York State Council of School Superintendents, Memdated 7.20.04, “Position of NYSCOSS — Regarding the practice of teaching candidates accepting multiple positions”:
    • “Over the past decade, many New York State public schools have increasingly experienced the loss of a teacher hired for the coming school year because that teacher continued to seek other positions that they may have perceived to be more desirable than the one previously accepted. This often occurs in the late spring or summer and places the school district in the difficult position of recruiting and hiring new teachers at a time when the candidate pool is small or non-existent.
    • It also negates the efforts and costs devoted to the earlier hiring process and the efforts and costs that were committed to the orientation and induction of the new teacher. These changed commitments on the part of newly hired teachers penalize school districts that plan well and hire early, and often penalizes the faculty and students of more disadvantaged districts where salaries or teaching assignments may not be as desirable as those in more affluent locations.
    • While we believe that educators should be free to pursue the position that best suits their skills, career aspirations and personal situations, we also believe that educators are role models and responsible for building trust in the schools and communities. Honoring commitments and resolving dilemmas in ethical ways is central to this responsibility. This is a shared responsibility between the school district and the employee once the commitment to hire and to accept a position has been made.
    • The Ethics Committee of the New York State Council of School Superintendents has developed the attached statement regarding the ethical recruitment and hiring practices for teachers in New York State schools. In particular, the statement ’Ethical Expectations for the Commitment to Employment on the Part of School Districts and Newly Employed Educators’ focuses on the commitment each party makes to the compact to become part of the school district. The Council’s Executive Committee has endorsed its distribution to your departments with the request that it be part of your training of new educators, especially during the last portion of their program as they seriously prepare to enter the job market.
    • The acceptance of an offer of employment places an ethical obligation on the educator to honor that commitment and not to seek or accept other offers before the commitment is fulfilled” http://www.nyscoss.org

20. If I do not succeed in my student teaching experience, what happens?

  • Any violation of the Code of Conduct could result in the teacher candidate’s immediate dismissal from student teaching.
  • Through the evaluation process and based on formal and informal observations, the PDE and/or the CFS may determine that a professional growth plan be established for the teacher candidate. (A professional growth plan will be automatically implemented if the overall rating for the “Mid-quarter Review” is below a “2.”) The professional growth plan will identify the skills, behaviors, etc. that need further development. The supervisor and PDE will monitor the progress and set a timeframe for the plan. After the professional growth plan probationary period, teacher candidates whose performance still does not meet the standards required to recommend them to the NYSED for certification or who do not wish to continue pursuing teacher certification will meet with the director and the appropriate unit coordinator and program leader. If a teacher candidate is removed, a performance review will be conducted. A new setting will not materialize after the PDE, the CFS, and at times, the building administrator, recommend a teacher candidate’s removal.
  • An overall rating below a “2” for the final evaluation for any placement will result in the candidate’s removal from student teaching. If the first placement is below a “2”, the candidate will not continue to the next placement.
  • Teacher candidates who are not experiencing success during their student teaching semester will be withdrawn from the course of student teaching. The teacher candidate will meet with the manager of student teaching operations and their advisor to review options, which in all likelihood will result in a change of major.
  • For situations that warrant the teacher candidate’s removal from the experience, the teacher candidate will need to sign a dated letter of withdrawal. After a decision is made, students may utilize SUNY Plattsburgh’s Academic Grievance Procedure.

Some Final Thoughts

For nearly all of SUNY Plattsburgh teacher candidates, student teaching is a very challenging and highly rewarding experience. It sets the proverbial “stage” for future success.

The time, energy, resourcefulness and creativity you put forth during your student teaching experience will serve as a real and meaningful investment in your own future as a caring, competent, and qualified educator.


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