This section contains information about the St. Olaf College personnel involved with student teaching. You will find information about:
- The Director of Field Experiences
- The College Student Teaching Supervisors
- Suggestions for the College Supervisors
The Director of Field Experiences provides overall leadership and direction for the student teaching program. The Director works to achieve efficiency of the present program while planning and coordinating a more improved future program.
The Director’s role requires knowledge of the latest practices and procedures in the fields of education and administration, the skills of organization and planning, and the ability to implement plans once they are formulated. Most importantly, the Director’s role demands commitment to demonstrating the positive leadership necessary for preparing teachers for the future.
Specific responsibilities of the Director include the following:
- coordinating the student teaching program with phases of the total teacher education program.
- working cooperatively with school districts involved with student teaching.
- providing an environment which promotes participatory decision making and consensus among the student teaching staff concerning the objectives of the student teaching program.
- coordinating and scheduling supervisory visits for generalist supervisors and specialist supervisors.
- encouraging the exchange of ideas and effective practices among the student teaching staff.
- developing, with staff assistance, the criteria for selection of cooperating schools and school personnel.
- applying equitable criteria in student teaching placements.
- maintaining student teaching records.
- making available for each supervisor all necessary forms that will facilitate their work (handbooks, checklists, evaluation forms, etc.).
- calling meetings of the student teaching staff when needed.
- directing pertinent and contemporary research that validates program effectiveness as well as identifies program areas for further development.
- providing staff development for college supervisors and cooperating teachers to keep them abreast of recent research and programmatic developments in the field of student teaching supervision.
- promoting the student teaching program by providing information to students, colleagues, participating schools, and the general public regarding the nature of student teaching and its contribution to professional education.
- continually evaluating the success of the student teaching program and seeking to eliminate any areas of need in the program that might appear.
The College Supervisor
The college supervisor provides a liaison among the college, cooperating teachers, administration and student teachers within the student teaching center. St. Olaf student teachers are observed by supervisors from the Education Department (generalist supervisor) and from the student’s subject area (specialist supervisor). The generalist supervisor observes and evaluates general pedagogical practice while the specialist supervisor focuses on content knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge and skills. During student teaching, the generalist supervisor will make a minimum of two visits while the specialist supervisor will make four visits. For Theater and World Languages student teachers, the generalist supervisor makes four visits and the specialist supervisor makes two visits. Some music students will be visited by three college supervisors for a minimum total of six visits.
The generalist supervisor serves as the primary student teacher supervisor. In the event that the student teacher experiences difficulties, the generalist supervisor is expected to assist by making extra contacts (i.e. e-mails, phone calls, visits) to the student teacher and/or cooperating teacher. Although both the generalist and specialist supervisors read the student teacher’s journal, the generalist must respond with feedback on a weekly basis. Also, the generalist supervisor is responsible for reviewing the unit plan and providing input.
A schedule of visits is given to each college supervisor and student teacher at the beginning of the semester. The schedule lists exact dates when a supervisor is to visit a student teaching site, approximately every ten days. Students have been asked to provide cooperating teachers with these dates so that the supervisor is expected by teachers and administrators in the school.
Some visits may have to be postponed because of emergencies, unforeseen commitments and weather conditions. When such changes become necessary, the supervisor should notify the student teacher as quickly as possible. If the student teacher cannot be reached, please notify the Director of Field Experiences who will relay the information to the student. It is important to follow your supervision schedule as closely as possible. Do not cancel your first visit even if the student calls and says she/he will not be teaching that day.
During the course of visits to student teaching sites the college supervisor will:
- Examine the student teacher’s lesson plans, reflective journals, and unit plans. Lesson plans and related materials for each class observed should be given to the supervisor before the class session.
- Observe the student teacher instructing in a normal classroom situation. This is apart from observation of the same teacher in charge of a small group or a one-to-one tutoring session.
- Provide the student teacher with a verbal and written evaluation following observation of her/his classroom instruction.
- Hold triad conferences with the cooperating teacher(s), student teacher, and college supervisor.
- Confer with building principals and assistant principals whenever possible. Many administrators have questions about specific aspects of the student teaching program not covered in this handbook.
- Notify the Director of Field Experiences immediately in the event of any problem which could result in the removal or transfer of a student teacher. Removal or transfer should take place only after consultation with the Director of Field Experiences.
- Provide the Director of Field Experiences with a written evaluation of each student teacher supervised following the student teaching semester. This evaluation will be submitted in Tk20.
- Check in with the Director of Field Experiences periodically. She/he is eager to hear about the progress of your students and to help you with any problems you might have.
If you are supervising for the first time, the following suggestions might be of some help:
- Always report directly to the school office before visiting your student teacher. Tell them who you are and who you are supervising. Register your car if parking rules are enforced.
- Tell the office personnel to inform the principal that you are in the building. This is a good time to find out if he/she would like to confer with you.
- Schedule your visits so you arrive to observe a class before it starts. You can learn a lot by being in the classroom early.
- Provide student teachers with feedback on both what they are doing well and what they can improve upon.
- Do not be afraid to talk to students. Most of them enjoy visitors and are eager to talk about their school.
- Try to become as familiar as possible with the philosophies of the districts in which you supervise. Many schools have written philosophies and objectives that can be obtained from the administrative office or online. The cooperating teacher will be able to answer any questions that you might have.
- Be realistic about the cooperating teacher’s time to confer with you. Be accommodating and schedule conferences when the time is best for them. If you have another student teacher to see that day, let the cooperating teacher know when you must leave for that visit. Most cooperating teachers will go overboard to find a conference time that fits your schedule.
- Whenever possible, let the cooperating teachers and administrators know how genuinely grateful we are for their help and cooperation.
- If problems and questions come up that you can’t answer, call the Director of Field Experiences.
- Keep your sense of humor!