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Your First Day, First Week & Beyond


Prior to the First Day the Teacher Candidate is Required To:

Contact the professional development educator (PDE) and college field supervisor (CFS). You need to mail your letter of introduction and résumé. You need to schedule a meeting with your PDEs before the start of each placement. (Follow the schedule outlined in your student teaching placement packet. If student teaching fall semester, meet before the summer break. If student teaching spring semester, meet before holiday break.) The requirements are in place to make sure:

  • The lines of communication are open between student, supervisor, and PDE before the start of the student teaching experience.
  • To help establish a common understanding of your roles and responsibilities.
  • Professional goals for the student teaching experience are clearly understood by your supervisor, your PDE, and you.
  • You have a solid understanding of your PDE’s classroom, teaching repertoire, instructional models, the school district, community, and the students.
  • Strive towards establishing collaboration. You are not working in isolation. Foster and cultivate an environment conducive to “partnering.” Through this collaborative partnership a “co-teaching” model can happen. Co-teaching provides more opportunities for student learning resulting in increase in overall student achievement (Bacharach, Heck, & Dahlberg, 2006). Co-Teaching Strategies:
    1. One Teach, One Observe — Observing specific behaviors & gathering information as a means to better assist students in need.
    2. One Teach, One Assist — Assisting students with their work, monitoring student behaviors, and/or correcting assignments.
    3. Station Teaching — The co-teaching pair divides the instructional content into parts. Each teacher instructs one of the groups, groups then rotate or spend a designated amount of time at each station.
    4. Parallel Teaching — Each teacher instructs half the students. The two teachers are addressing the same instructional material, using the same teaching strategies.
    5. Supplemental Teaching — This strategy allows one teacher to work with students at their expected grade level, while the other teacher works with those students who need the information and/or materials retaught, extended or remediated.
    6. Alternative (differentiated) Teaching — Alternative teaching strategies provide two different approaches to teaching the same information. The learning outcome is the same for all students however the avenue for getting there is different.
    7. Team Teaching — Well-planned team taught lessons, exhibit an invisible flow of instruction with no prescribed division of authority. Using a team teaching strategy, both teachers are actively involved in the lesson (Espinor, 2009).

During Your Initial Meeting, You Should:

  • Be professional, courteous, and sensitive to the time constraints faced by your PDE.
  • Obtain the PDE’s number and the number of the school office.
  • Request copies of the school/district handbook. It is highly recommended to review teacher’s manuals, textbooks, and other relevant curricular materials.
  • Request a copy of the school’s calendar. Obtain information regarding the official starting/ending times of the school day, the hours of attendance, and other school-related routines. Teacher candidates follow “teacher time,” not “student time.”
  • An example of a student teacher who made the effort to meet with the PDE and principal before the break:
    • “Dear _____,
      Yesterday I visited _____ to meet with _____, my first PDE and _____, the building principal. While I was there I was able to sit in on CSE meeting, meet the grade level team that I will be working with and obtain resources from _____ and _____. I have a copy of the staff handbook, a master schedule for the upcoming year and children’s literature that will be used [this semester]. Just thought I would update you.”

The First Day

  • The teacher candidate should arrive at least 30 minutes early and should be formally introduced to the building administrator.
  • The teacher candidate should be introduced to students. The student teaching experience should be briefly explained to the students in a manner that students understand the teacher candidate’s role and responsibility.
  • The PDE should provide for the teacher candidate’s involvement right from the beginning by:
    • Assigning specific student-related tasks (e.g., passing out papers, helping with supervised study, working with small groups of students in class or during a specific “help” period, help students with bulletin boards).
    • Informing the teacher candidate of the PDE’s current instructional objectives in order to help focus on the teaching and expected behavior in the classroom.
    • Suggesting specific students the teacher candidate might observe in order to identify certain behaviors.
  • The PDE should provide the teacher candidate with an opportunity for an end-of-the-day conference. This will:
    • further assist the teacher candidate in acquainting him/herself with the classroom;
    • further develop the working relationship with the teacher candidate;
    • provide an opportunity for the teacher candidate to ask any questions;
    • provide an opportunity for the exchange of ideas;
    • allow time for planning for the next day; and
    • provide the teacher candidate with relevant instructional materials.

The First Week (Acclimatization and Sequential Integration Period)

The PDE should assist the teacher candidate to become better acquainted with the community, the school building, and with other faculty members. Helpful activities include:

  • provide the teacher candidate with a working knowledge and location of all available computers and audio-visual equipment;
  • provide an opportunity to visit the library and to discuss available resources with the librarian;
  • provide a guided tour of the district and community, if possible;
  • provide an opportunity to visit other classrooms and to observe other grade levels (this is often a desirable activity at the end of a teacher candidate’s placement.)
  • the PDE can provide direction on the use of students’ portfolios or guidance folders. Helpful information might include:
    • the use and location of the folders;
    • the types and results of different test scores and other selected materials.
    • the PDE should acquaint the teacher candidate with school policies, practices, and organization; grade level benchmarks; testing procedures; committees; extracurricular programming; school schedules; and any activities related to the NYS Learning Standards. Helpful information might include:
      • information on attendance policies; school discipline; hallway privileges, study halls, homerooms, and meal counts; dress code policy; grading system; homeroom procedures;
      • information pertaining to the curriculum so that the teacher candidate might become familiar with the PDE’s long-range plans; and
      • information pertaining to inclusionary practices, students with special needs, classroom management, homework, authentic assessment practices (e.g., rubrics, portfolios), standardized testing, benchmarks, how the building and/or the district has been implementing the NYS Learning Standards, and alternative instructional programming (e.g., multi-age grouping, looping, team teaching, special entitlement programming).
  • the PDE and the teacher candidate should discuss lesson planning. Specific attention should be paid to:
    • the rationale for using lesson plans;
    • a discussion of an acceptable lesson plan format; and
    • an understanding that all objectives and methods to be used will be discussed and understood by both parties;
  • the PDE should encourage the teacher candidate to become involved in as many extra-curricular activities and school functions as time will permit; and
  • the PDE should establish, in consultation with the teacher candidate, the methods and the criteria by which the teacher candidate will be evaluated.

Classroom Activities for the Teacher Candidate During the First Week of the Assignment

  • learn the students’ names;
  • astute observation of the PDE: transitions, lesson structure, classroom management strategies, etc.;
  • participate in such non-instructional activities as playground, lunch, and bus duty;
  • structure a three-way conference; and
  • journal entries.

Classroom Involvement During Subsequent Weeks:

Week Description
Week #2 At this point, the teacher candidate is expected to teach 1–2 classes or subjects (10–20% of the daily instructional load assumed)
  • Lesson plans should be submitted.
  • Development of a unit plan should start at this point.
  • Experimentation with various classroom management strategies and instructional methodologies.
  • Continuation of observation.
Week #3 Assume additional classes/subjects (20–30% of the daily instructional load)
  • Responsible for such routines as attendance, meal count, and escorting students to/from specials.
  • Meet with the PDE and college field supervisor on a regular basis. Attend all CFS seminar sessions.
  • Discussion of lesson plans and unit plan with PDE and college field supervisor.
Week #4 Assume approximately 50% or more of the instructional load; anticipate mid-quarter evaluation by PDE; meeting with PDE and college field supervisor regarding evaluation outcome
Week #5 Assume approximately 60-80% of the instructional load, with corresponding documentation
Week #6 Assume approximately 80-90% of the instructional load, with corresponding documentation
Then Either:
Week #7 “Solo Week” — assume 100% of the planning and instructional load
Week #8 Assume reduced instructional load (perhaps 50% or so to allow the PDE to transition back into the classroom)
Week #7 Most of the instructional load, with corresponding planning and documentation
Week #8 “Solo Week” — assume 100% of the planning and instructional load

Plan for Teacher Candidate Phase-In

A plan for how the teacher candidate is to increase the level of involvement in the classroom should be established during the initial meeting or early during the first week of the placement. The plan should include a clarification of the needs, desires, and expectations of both parties in order to facilitate the process of gradual involvement, culminating in the “solo” week experience. The basic objective for the student teaching field experience is to provide each teacher candidate with the opportunity to shift from initial dependence on the PDE to increasing independence.

Due to the many variables involved in student teaching placements, “phase-in plans” may vary. Teacher candidates should begin teaching one or two lessons as soon as the placement begins. Generally, the transition can shift from “observational” to limited participation by grading papers, handling classroom routines and assuming non-instructional duties.

Planning for Classroom Instruction & Assessment

Definite, initial agreements between the teacher candidate and the PDE need to be made concerning the format for developing short and long-range plans. The PDE should provide the following information to the teacher candidate:

  • information pertaining to the needs/progress of individual students and the class;
  • information pertaining to the concepts to be covered during the teacher candidate’s period of responsibility and range of possible assessments; and
  • a review of the teacher candidate’s lesson plans during the observation period.


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