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Alma Education Program gets you into the classroom early and often.
Field experiences are a key part of your development as a professional educator. They help you begin to make more informed career decisions, observe experienced teachers working with students, and try focused instructional and assessment strategies with support. Placements are always related to a course, helping you to link theory and practice, bringing coherence to your teacher preparation, and giving you a way to reflect on what you are experiencing.
As a secondary teacher candidate, you will have at least three (3) extended classroom experiences prior to student teaching. These build sequentially, based on program levels, allowing you to develop and refine your professional knowledge, skills, and dispositions as you progress through the program and prepare for student teaching. You will usually have your first experience in your first year.
Early placement experiences are in local schools generally no more than a 20 minute drive from campus, with local public transportation options for those without a car. You will have a variety of experiences to ensure you see different teachers, grade levels, and school contexts. This breadth and diversity of experience helps prepare you for teaching all children. You will be placed with experienced, recommended classroom teachers.
Secondary education field experiences prior to student teaching are for 30 or 40 hours across the semester – usually two 2-hour visits per week for about 10 weeks. This extended duration allows you to observe teaching routines and structures over time and to observe student learning and development.
What will I learn and do?
Each field experience is concurrent with one or more courses. Expectations for your classroom activities are related to course objectives and assignments provide a developmental sequence. Your initial class introduces you to teaching in your major teaching area of interest, from the perspective of the teacher (level 1;) you then spend time in structured observation and reflection on student diversity and learning (level 2;) you then focus more specifically on planning, instruction and assessment in your teaching major (level 3.) You will have placements in middle and high schools, in each certification (major/minor) subject.
How am I evaluated?
For each field placement, the teacher completes a midterm and final evaluation and a dispositions form. Teachers are also asked to give oral and written feedback to candidates. All evaluations include common components addressing professionalism and working with P12 students. Each course also has specific expectations focused on particular knowledge, skills, and competencies. The level 3 methods course assesses multiple components related to lesson planning, teaching, and assessment of learning. Evaluations may lead to a passing or failing grade. Candidates must have at least 2 successful placements prior to approval for student teaching.
Level 1: Introduction to Teaching, Learning and Schooling
EDC 103 Introduction to Secondary Education
Overview: This 40-hour placement is taken concurrent with EDC 130 which introduces candidates to secondary education and to the following foundational topics: teaching approaches, learners and learning, and contexts of schooling. This placement provides an introductory experience for those interested in teaching at the secondary level and assists candidates in making a more informed career choice about becoming a secondary teacher. Candidates are placed in their major teaching area of interest.
Expectations: Candidates work closely with the placement teacher to observe, assist, and work with students. They reflect on their own schooling and learning in relation to the experiences of the diverse learners in the placement classroom. They relate their observation to models of teaching and schooling they are learning about. They consider teaching, learning and schooling from broader perspectives.
Level 2: Children and Classrooms
EDC 203 Growth and Development
Overview: This 40-hour placement is taken by all teacher candidates concurrent with EDC 230 Child Development, which relates psychological theories and research to classroom learning across childhood and adolescent development. This experience includes structured observations of teaching practices, learning environments, and student development, and reflection.
Expectations: Candidates are placed in a “home” classroom and work with that teacher to observe, assist, and work closely with students, applying psychological principles and learning theories. Candidates are expected to work with individual students, small groups, and/or the whole class, as appropriate. Candidates also visit at least 2 other classrooms, spanning several grade levels, in order to better understand a variety of developmental levels, individual learner differences, and teacher approaches.
Level 3: Learning to Teach
EDC 303 Teaching in the subject area
Overview: This 30-hour placement is taken after candidates have been accepted into the teacher education program. EDC 303 provides a supportive and structured field placement experience where candidates relate and apply what they learn about generally in EDC 311 Topics Seminar (planning, differentiation, and instructional strategies) and more specifically in the methods class concurrent with this placement. Secondary candidates meet in small groups with a subject area specialist for classes focused on content area pedagogy, for example: content standards and College and Career Ready standards; formative and summative assessment; yearly, unit, and lesson planning; instructional strategies and resources; differentiation.