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.
In Ed 2111, University students complete 30 hours of in the classroom while they complete Ed 2121-Introduction to Education.
In Ed 2131, University students complete six hours in elementary classrooms (three in early and three in upper) working on specific literacy instructional activities.
In ElEd 3111, teacher candidates extend and apply information and skills learned in other elementary education courses. Candidates spend a minimum of 40 hours in a rural elementary school, where they develop skills of observation and reflective analysis in a classroom setting; perform a wide range of teaching duties and responsibilities including instruction and assessment; and assist their cooperating teachers. The class meets weekly on the Morris campus to connect theory and practice.
All candidates must complete a practicum in ElEd 3211 or ElEd 3212. ElEd 3211 is required for those candidates who have chosen to add a preprimary endorsement. ElEd 3211 is a 40-hour field experience in a Head Start or other setting with children from ages 3–5. Candidates plan, implement, and assess activities in their preprimary setting in consultation with cooperating teachers and university instructor.
All candidates must complete a practicum in ElEd 3211 or ElEd 3212. ElEd 3212 is required for those candidates who have chosen to add a middle level endorsement in social studies, science, mathematics, or communication. ElEd 3212 is a 40-hour field experience in grade 7 or 8, where candidates observe, teach, and assist cooperating teachers.
Beginning Student Teaching is designed to provide candidates with opportunities during the first weeks of school to increase their understanding of the duties and responsibilities of teachers and to introduce students to the classes in which they may complete their student teaching assignments. Candidates observe, reflect and apply what they have learned in the program. They explore the many dimensions of teaching at the elementary school level.
Students have the opportunity to apply content area methods in a cross-cultural setting. This full-week, full-time experience is completed in the Chicago Public Schools, Chicago, Illinois; Willmar Public Schools, Willmar; or Tiospa Zina Tribal School, New Agency, South Dakota.