Frequently Asked Questions
When is the next portfolio workshop, and where? Who do we contact if we can’t attend?
We typically schedule portfolio workshops to meet a couple times a semester. When they are scheduled, we send out notice to all students via the listserve. We typically schedule one session during the day and one following the 4:30 classtime. We urge you to come sooner, rather than later. If you can’t attend, ask Nancy File (email@example.com) to email you a copy of the materials.
When are our portfolios due and are these paper or electronic?
Portfolios are due for the midpoint check on the first day of student teaching orientation. They are due for the final check a few weeks before student teaching ends (early January or early June). Through the spring 2010 semester, all student teachers will be doing paper portfolios. Our transition point to the electronic format is for students who will student teach in fall 2010. These students will be using the electronic format. Introductions to the electronic format will be scheduled every semester.
Is the first half of our portfolio due at the start of student teaching?
The start of student teaching is considered our “midpoint” portfolio review. That is, it is the midpoint check of your progress toward being fully competent on the state teaching standards. Although this is not timewise the halfway point, it makes sense in terms of how the learning curve accelerates during student teaching. That said, being at the midpoint of competence is defined by the program as being partially competent in each standard. Theoretically, you should have some competence in each standard, with full competence being achieved once you get that daily classroom experience. Therefore, we would like to see an artifact and reflection for every standard. It may well be that during student teaching you’ll add another artifact that further builds the case for demonstrating your competence. We think it is fine to have 2 artifacts for each standard – you certainly don’t need more for your final review, and often 2 allow you to more fully reflect many of the knowledge, skills, and dispositions under each standard.
Preparing for Student Teaching
How does passing the Praxis II interface with deadlines for school placement (e.g. if I pass in early January or February, can I still student teach the second semester)?
Passing the Praxis II is an absolute requirement for student teaching, per DPI guidelines. We simply cannot place you until you have passed. If you submit your scores later than September for spring placement and March for fall placement, we cannot absolutely guarantee a placement, and you will likely miss being in the pool when assignments are first made. We will make every attempt to find a placement for you, but at a minimum we need a period of at least a couple weeks to find a last-minute placement AFTER we receive your scores. Each year the calendar changes slightly in MPS.
You can contact the field placement office (firstname.lastname@example.org) to find out the dates for placement starts. For spring 2010, traditional calendar schools start on January 26th and year-round schools start on January 11th. Best advice, take the Praxis early!
Are there any Praxis II study materials available to us at school?
Yes, in the second floor Office of Academic Services.
When do I apply to student teaching?
These deadlines are posted on the website of the Office of Field Experiences. Also, we try to pass on information about deadlines via listserves. Generally, application for fall student teaching is in the February before, application for spring student teaching is the April before. If you previously applied and then deferred student teaching for any reason, check with the field experience to re-activate your application. If you have been out of school, you will also need to see an academic advisor to re-activate your ability to register on PAWS.
What happens if you are not approved for student teaching but don’t have other classes to take?
IF you have taken AND passed all the required courses, about the only thing that would keep you out of student teaching is not passing the Praxis, or not submitting your TB and criminal background check materials. So, keep those things in order, and this should not arise. If you are not approved for student teaching, meet with your faculty advisor to devise a plan for your completion of the program.
What is the cost of tuition when student teaching? Are there classes we have to take?
Tuition costs are the same as other courses. You will register for CURRINS 402 and 404 (12 credits ) and 402 (1 credit seminar).
What is the student teaching calendar?
You will be student teaching for a 20-week public school semester, per DPI requirements. You will split this between two placements, one in a prek/k classroom and one in the primary grades. In the fall, traditional schools start in early September, and the semester ends in late January. The spring semester starts in late January and ends in mid-June. Your spring break would occur during the school’s spring break (not UWM’s spring break). For year-round schools, the start is early August with an end date right before the December holidays. Start-up for spring is in mid-January with an end in mid-to-late June. For these schools you have longer breaks during the semester (feel free to check out a year-round calendar on www.milwaukee.k12.wi.us). Note that whenever you finish, it will be after the UWM graduation occurs. While you participate in the graduation ceremony, nothing is final until your grades are posted, which means you finish student teaching AND pass your portfolio.
Are there any internship opportunities available instead of student teaching?
As a traditional certification program, we don’t offer internships. Those are most often limited to alternative certification programs in high-needs areas, such as special education. If students are working full-time, for example they have an emergency certification, another license, or work in a private school that can employ them without a certification, we work individually with the student to meet DPI requirements of our program. However, in each case it is up to the employer to help the student teacher meet requirements of the program – we can’t demand anything of the employer.
If I need approval to take one class during student teaching, when will I know if that’s acceptable?
There are certain classes that we feel you really must have under your belt before you go out and try to teach, particularly the methods courses. Work closely with your advisor to determine ahead of time what class would be safe to hold to take concurrently with student teaching, if you must do this. Remember also that student teaching is intense and takes a lot of time. You won’t get any breaks on the coursework, so be prepared for a very full load. Generally, to get approval of your plan in advance, notify your academic advisor so it can be noted in your records as soon as possible.
Can we recommend a placement? What if a school requests us?
Our field experience handbook clarifies that for all students we cannot honor requests for specific schools. Neither can we honor a request coming from a school. Please, do not put the university in an awkward position by participating in a request coming from a school. Let them know in advance it is not possible according to policy.
When will we find out if we are accepted into student teaching and where our placements are?
Student teaching acceptance letters come in mid-fall for spring placements and in mid-spring for fall placements. It takes time for the advising team to complete clearances. IF you get a letter saying you have not been cleared, do not panic immediately. Very often the issue is one of making sure your records are accurate (e.g., the course you took for the literature requirement may not have coded as literature on your records). So, see your academic advisor and clear up the questions. It really almost always works out – there are myriad requirements in teacher ed and at this point we need to make sure that every “i” is dotted and every “t” crossed.
Placements are made and finalized later in the semester before you student teach. It takes a lot of time to ensure that all placements will work. We don’t release placement information until we know the entire group is done, because a change in one placement can domino into other changes. We always want to give you a chance to contact your teacher before you begin, which would be just by early June for fall placement and early January for spring placement. Please be patient –it’s a complex and time-consuming process for the Field Experience office staff.
If there is a travel conflict, do you really take into account school requests?
We cannot guarantee placement in any one particular school (see above). However, we very strongly consider the parameters you’ve given us. We can honor general geographical area (e.g., southside, northwest), if you let us know your travel route. We can honor proximity to a child’s care care center. We work very hard to keep people who need to use the bus system on workable buslines. Submit this information with your application and be as specific as possible. Also remember, that the more flexibility you can give us, the easier this whole process is (which is why we can honor geographical area but not specific schools).
During our student teaching, are we required to have lessons checked by the cooperating teacher before we teach them?
Yes! The most important thing to remember is that this classroom is the cooperating teacher’s. That person is, at the bottom line, responsible for everything that happens. Therefore, at a minimum, it’s a courtesy to clear your plans before implementing them. Beyond that, the cooperating teacher can provide really valuable feedback for changes that could be crucial. The teacher must ensure that kids are learning. Your role as an “apprentice” in the classroom is to keep the teacher fully informed of what you are doing prior to implementation. Take responsibility to communicate with your teacher about when s/he would like to see plans, and stick to the deadlines you are given.