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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 an elementary 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 have an introductory field 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.
All elementary education field experiences prior to student teaching are for 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 classroom placement is concurrent with one or more courses. Expectations for your classroom activities are related to course objectives and assignments provide a developmental sequence. After a supervised experience in a classroom for children’s literature (level 1,) you will spend time in structured observation and reflection on student diversity and learning (level 2,) and then spend two placements observing and teaching lessons across elementary subject areas (level 3.) You will have placements across grade levels and focused on all core subjects.
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. All methods courses (level 3) assess 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 160 Introduction to Elementary
Overview: Candidates are introduced to the following foundational topics in introductory elementary education courses: teaching approaches, learners and learning, and contexts of schooling. In this children’s literature course, they have their first classroom experience, a service learning component. The class makes two (2) visits to a local school, with candidates assigned to read to children and facilitate literacy activities for an hour each time.
Expectations: Candidates are required to choose children’s books that they will read to children. They design an activity to support student understanding of the book. They visit the classroom during whole class service learning trips, with the course instructor.
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 301 Teaching Science and Social Studies
Overview: This 40-hour placement is taken by all elementary candidates as part of Methods Block A, taken after candidates have been accepted into the teacher education program. EDC 301 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 science (EDC 361) and social studies (EDC 363) methods courses.
Expectations: The placement allows candidates to observe and evaluate: student attitudes, conceptual understandings, and learning; learning environments for particular subject area learning; content-related pedagogical approaches and specific teaching strategies. Candidates become familiar with teaching resources and materials in science and social studies. They also plan, teach, assess, and reflect on lessons they teach in the placement classroom in both science and social studies.
EDC 302 Teaching Language Arts and Mathematics
Overview: This 40-hour placement is taken by all elementary candidates as part of Methods Block B, taken after candidates have been accepted into the teacher education program. EDC 302 provides a supportive and structured field placement experience where candidates relate and apply what they learn about generally in EDC 312 Topics Seminar (historical contexts and trends, choice and accountability, professional roles) and more specifically in the language arts (EDC 360) and mathematics (EDC 362) methods courses.
Expectations: The placement allows candidates to observe and evaluate: student attitudes, conceptual understandings, and learning; learning environments for particular subject area learning; content-related pedagogical approaches and specific teaching strategies. Candidates become familiar with teaching resources and materials in language arts and mathematics. They also plan, teach, assess, analyze and reflect on lessons they teach in the placement classroom in both language arts and mathematics.