The unit has both formal and informal partnerships across university departments and with administration and faculties from school corporations (districts). Both internal and external partnerships are essential to the establishment of a support system for candidates in field and clinical experiences. The unit partners with 24 school corporations (districts) whose field-based clinical faculty (teachers and counselors) collaborate with university-based clinical faculty to supervise candidates during field and clinical experiences.
The unit’s primary internal partner is the Teacher Education Committee (TEC) TEC is composed of faculty from the Department of Education and faculty representing the content areas that support secondary education majors. TEC reviews course, field, and clinical components of baccalaureate programs, works in partnership with the unit on candidate advising procedures, and recommends changes in policies and practices. As well, TEC members collaborate with the Department of Education in the supervision of candidates’ field experiences and/or clinical practice.
External partners include the Teacher Education Advisory Council (TEAC), School Counseling Program Advisory Council (SCPAC) and the Exceptional Needs Graduate Program Advisory Council (ENGPAC). Included in each group are representatives from area school corporations and alumni from specific programs. These councils bring expertise to the unit and are essential to the design, delivery, and evaluation of field and clinical experiences.
The post-baccalaureate initial and advanced levels Exceptional Needs Program formed an advisory council in October 2009, the Exceptional Needs Graduate Program Advisory Council (ENGPAC). The council consists of intentionally-selected members from the following categories: faculty, current candidates, alumni, and cooperating teachers, building administrators and public agency administrators. Council members have been selected on the basis of their connections and expertise in field and clinical experiences.
At the post-baccalaureate advanced level, the School Counseling Program Advisory Council (SCPAC) reviewed and made suggestions to field evaluation forms and designed and approved the candidate field site evaluation form, which was implemented in 2009. They also designed a field activity check-list of discussion topics to guide field supervisors and candidates in meeting field experience and internship requirements.
The roles of the unit’s partners are outlined in the purpose, goals, and objectives of internal and external advisory councils.
Unit partners have contributed to the design of field and clinical experiences. Cooperating teachers’ responses on the Field-Based Experience Assessment Survey prompted discussions between cooperating teachers and the Director of Field Experiences regarding the length of the student teaching experience. These discussions resulted in extension of student teaching placements from 15 to 16 weeks. Also, revision of the Student Teaching Evaluation instrument resulted from collaboration with cooperating teachers.
As a result of consultation with clinical faculty, student teaching seminar topics have been added, such as, teaching high ability gifted and talented children, legal issues affecting teachers, curriculum mapping, instructional and assessment interventions for English language learners, and contemporary issues in special education regulations.
Unit partners have contributed to the delivery of field and clinical experiences. Cooperating teachers provide guidance and direction to candidates on a daily basis and assist candidates in developing formal lessons which university supervisors evaluate as part of the Candidate Field Assessment Process (CFAP).
Secondary education faculty, including members of TEC, supervise candidates in art and EDUC 211 field placements. EDUC 211 is a course designed to provide candidates who change majors with practica experiences in their newly selected majors.
Unit partners have contributed to the evaluation of field and clinical experiences. Cooperating teachers evaluate performance of practica candidates and student teachers. This includes formative assessment throughout field placements and a summative assessment at the end. Cooperating teachers also provide feedback to university supervisors on candidate performance. Such feedback is provided so as to forestall problems, address concerns, reinforce best practices, and compliment successes.
Members of the TEC have cooperated with the unit’s Department of Education to align secondary education content courses with Indiana State content standards. This cooperation includes aligning state standards with expectations required of candidates in their field and clinical experiences.
The TEAC participated in development of conceptual framework performance outcomes. These outcomes are the basis for the unit’s field evaluation instruments.
The Director of Field Experiences is responsible for establishing, approving, and maintaining affiliation agreements and practica and student teaching/internship contracts with school districts in which candidates are placed. He cooperates with individual faculty, the Director of Exceptional Needs, and the Director of School Counseling to secure appropriate field placements.
Placement contracts are signed by the unit’s Director of Field Experiences and P-12 school corporation (district) partners. The Director of Field Experiences coordinates the majority of placements for teacher candidates through either building administrators or central office personnel. The director determines candidates’ eligibility for practica, internships, and student teaching in accordance with program transition point requirements. Also, the director ensures that candidates are assigned to a variety of field placements that provide experiences with children from diverse backgrounds. Details of the unit’s and school partners’ roles and responsibilities are located in the Manual for Field Experiences and Student Teaching and Graduate Handbook.
At the baccalaureate initial licensure level, candidates’ first field experiences in Introduction to Teaching in Inclusive Settings, EDUC 140, are coordinated by the course co-instructors in partnership with school administrators. Beginning in Practicum in Teacher Education, EDUC 201, and continuing in Advanced Practicum in Teacher Education, EDUC 301, the Director of Field Experiences coordinates candidate placements with building-level administrators. Through the use of school demographics and the Candidate Tracking System, the director ensures that placements afford candidates opportunities to interact with a wide range of students from diverse backgrounds. The coordinated efforts of the director and the Licensing Officer also ensure that field placements meet licensing requirements related to content and grade levels.
In the baccalaureate initial licensing programs, course instructors have established informal partnerships with P-12 schools and community agencies to provide candidates with additional field opportunities. These opportunities occur in Methods for Teaching Methods for Exceptional Middle and High School Youth, Methods and Techniques for Teaching Elementary Exceptional Children, Elementary Methods and Materials in Teaching Reading for All Children, Integrated Curriculum in Language Arts and Social Studies, Curriculum and Methods in Science, and Curriculum and Methods in Mathematics . Comprehensive documentation of the unit’s partnering with schools and the community is detailed in Unit Partnering Activities.
In the post-baccalaureate Exceptional Needs Program, the Director of Exceptional Needs, the field site personnel, and the unit’s Director of Field Experiences collectively determine appropriate sites for candidates’ field placements. Candidates may complete the practicum experience in an approved agency setting, such as the Turnstone Center for Children and Adults with Disabilities or in the university’s summer academic program for K-12 students, Oaks and Willows.
Practica and internships for School Counseling Program candidates are developed collaboratively between the Director of School Counseling, the Director of Field Experiences, candidates, school counselors-supervisors, and school corporation administrators. Candidates are expected to meet with the prospective field supervisor prior to the contract signing to ensure that the parties are compatible and that the placement is appropriate. The unit approves placement contracts exclusively with schools with which it holds affiliation agreements. As such, all parties consent to fulfill professional expectations and meet legal requirements.
The unit has developed and sustained relationships with P-12 schools, university and school-based faculty, as well as with community agencies. There are multiple didactic and civic experiences in which candidates, university faculty, and school and community professionals share expertise and resources.
Sharing is exemplified through the collaboration that occurs between the unit and P-12 schools that host several university courses in schools. Candidates receive instruction and supervision from on-site practitioners, university faculty are exposed to current practices and classroom dynamics, and host teachers have the benefit of additional personnel to assist with instruction and assessment. The Seven courses at the baccalaureate initial licensing level held in area schools are: Elementary and secondary methods in mild intervention, elementary level courses in mathematics, science, social studies, reading, and language arts. Outside of the university course setting, candidates volunteer to provide supplemental instruction to P-12 students.
Unit Partnering Activities documents how sharing of expertise and resources among candidates, university faculty, school-based faculty, and community professionals contributes to candidates’ learning in field experiences and clinical practices.