The Office of Field Experience 

Policies and practices promoting effective teacher induction are of great importance to the School of Education. Effective programs have a positive impact on new teachers, the schools where they work, and the students they teach.  The function of the Office of Field Experience is to employ an array of practices to help students of teaching make the transition to teachers of students.  The scope of this office is to support students in their professional development from early field experiences to student teachers to beginning teachers.

Responsibilities of the Office of Field Experience include the following:

  • Monitor the teacher candidates to ensure they are growing professionally through their field experiences;
  • Secure and support the cooperating teachers to ensure they can perform the duties of supervising and supporting the teacher candidates;
  • Secure and support the University supervisors to ensure that they can perform the duties of supervising and supporting the teacher candidates

Field Experience Advisory Committee

Clinical and student teaching experiences are an integral component of all School of Education programs and the professional development of initial certification students.  As the Office of Field Experience works with students and faculty from varied education programs, the Field Experience Advisory Committee has been created to best serve and represent their needs and interests in alignment with P-I 34.  In addition to enhancing communication between the Office of Field Experience and the professional education programs, Committee members serve as leaders in the development and implementation of measures designed to enhance the effectiveness of the Office of Field Experience and in turn, the School of Education.

The Field Experience Advisory Committee is made up of representatives from School of Education programs and the Director and Assistant Director of the Office of Field Experience.  The Committee is designed to:

  • Share important field experience information and policies with respective programs and departments
  • Assist in the development of new field experience policies, assessment tools, and initiatives
  • Contribute to the revision of existing field experience policies, assessment tools, and expectations
  • Assist in the review of ad-hoc University student teaching supervisors applications
  • Receive feedback from respective programs and departments regarding Field Experience policies, proposed changes, and new initiatives and share this information with the Office of Field Experience and Field Experience Advisory Committee

Qualifications for Faculty and Staff who Supervise Field/Clinical Placements

Supervisors must have teaching experience and expertise in the specialty subject matter area and at the grade level of pupils being taught by the student teacher. The student teacher supervisor could have gained teaching experience out of the U.S. or in the U.S. If a supervisor has experiences teaching outside of the US, it is vitally important that the School of Education determines if the teaching experience is applicable to the experience of those they would be supervising.  Our goal is to provide high quality supervision and support  for the teacher candidates and to maintain positive, professional relationships with our school-based colleagues. 

Qualifications for Cooperating Teachers

Cooperating teachers must hold a valid teaching license and have volunteered for assignment as a cooperating teacher or practicum supervisor. They must have at least 3 years of teaching experience with at least one year of teaching experience in the school or school system of current employment or have at least 3 years of pupil service or administrator experience with one year in the school or school system of current employment.

Information about Teacher Candidates and Volunteers in School Settings

All teacher candidates must complete caregiver and criminal background checks prior to their admittance to and participation in clinical and student teaching placements. They must display the professional dispositions and behaviors expected of professionals in a learning environment.

Students formally enrolled in a practicum during a semester are legally covered by UW-L.  If they volunteer at any school outside of a formal class in which they are enrolled (for example, during the winter break), they are not covered by the University.  The students may want to speak to the particular school in which they plan to volunteer about their liability coverage under school district policy.

Field Experience Documentation

UW-L Standards in Practice (SIP) guides all field experience evaluations. It can be found at the following address:  http://www.uwlax.edu/soe/forms/index.html. The Wisconsin Standards for Teacher Development and Licensure address principles of best practices for Teacher Candidates (TC) in PK-12 learning environments. UW-L teacher educators created this standards-based assessment instrument to ensure that a TC can demonstrate proficiency in the knowledge, dispositions, and performances necessary to become a competent teacher. The evaluation process focuses on careful analysis of the TC’s observable behaviors as well as close examination of learners under the TC’s direction. In other words, the rubrics address what one would expect to see and hear in a learning environment if the TC were enacting the standards. The rubrics concretely address observable behaviors that another person can document. For example, one cannot observe and record a TC’s understanding of the tools of the discipline, but one can observe and record a TC using multiple representations and explanations of disciplinary concepts. Because UW-L Standards in Practice addresses both teacher candidate actions as well as learner actions, it provides a useful teaching guide as well as an assessment tool.

Clinical Evaluation Forms

All programs use the approved clinical form to monitor the teacher candidate’s professional development across the 10 WI teacher standards.  The same form is used for all field experiences prior to student teaching semester.  This assessment tool includes required competencies and developing competencies.  

If a teacher candidate has any Required Competency marked as unmet that individual will not move forward in the program and will be required to complete additional experiences to gain competencies in order to progress through the program. 

A Developing Competency may be marked as met or as unmet as a candidate moves through the program. A designation of unmet will NOT keep a teacher candidate from moving forward with courses and field experiences.  It does serve to alert program faculty and staff that an individual teacher candidate may need additional support in preparation for student teaching.

At the final field experience prior to student teaching, all Developing Competencies should be marked as met on at least one form during a teacher candidate’s field experiences.  These developing competencies serve as a gateway and must be marked as met before a teacher candidate advances to student teaching.  This will allow for monitoring and documenting professional growth as teacher candidates demonstrate increased knowledge and understanding of the standards.

The Clinical Evaluation Form is also a useful tool to monitor the opportunities within a field site.  If, for example, teacher candidates get little or no opportunities to experience most of the competencies, then the Director or Assistant Director of OFE may need to intervene to ensure that the teacher candidate has the opportunities to gain competencies in all areas.  Based on review of these forms, it may be decided by the Field Experience Advisory Committee that a particular site is not a good clinical site because  teacher candidates do not get the necessary opportunities.

Student Teaching Forms

Student teaching experiences include a full semester assignment for full days following the daily schedule and semester calendar of the cooperating school.  Teacher candidates are supported and assessed through three main forms. The Student Teaching Observation Form, the Midterm Conference Evaluation Form, and the Professional Final Evaluation form. All forms can be reviewed at http://www.uwlax.edu/soe/forms/index.html.

The Student Teaching Observation Form is completed by the University Supervisor for each observation (required a minimum of 4 complete observations of at least one hour in length).

The Midterm Conference Form is completed by the teacher candidate, the University supervisor and the cooperating teacher.  All three must discuss this in a face to face meeting, sign and date the form, and turn it into the OFE.

The Professional Final Evaluation must be signed by all three also and turned in to the OFE at the end of the student teaching semester.

Field Experience Sites Policy

When an individual faculty member or an entire program area seeks to establish a specific clinical site, the Office of Field Experience should be the first point of contact. All field placements must be cleared by the Office of Field Experience. 

If a program is interested in establishing a specific clinical site, faculty members from that program should first consult with the Office of Field Experience.  Programs should then write a site proposal that articulates the scope of the partnership and a brief rationale for the selected sit. A site proposal will come before the SOEL team for review. 


FAQ: For instructors, administrators, teachers and other professionals who work with Clinical Placements and Student Teaching

Clinical Placements: (observations, tutoring, small and large group instruction, all experiences prior to student teaching)

Who do I talk to about teaching assignments? 

  • The Chair of the department establishes teaching assignments for faculty and for Instructional Academic Staff.
  • The Chair hires and assigns instructors for all courses.
  • The Chair hires and assigns supervisors for all clinical field experiences.

When are instructors hired?
Because course needs change from one semester to the next, ad hoc instructors are hired for one semester only with no expectation for continued employment.  Generally, instructors are hired 4 to 6 weeks prior to the beginning of the semester in which they will be teaching or supervising.

Who communicates with school personnel regarding placements?
In consultation with building administrators and teachers, the Assistant Director of the Office of Field Experience and/or clinical instructor contacts schools to arrange clinical placements.

Who do I talk to about student placements?

  • All placements should be made in consultation with the Office of Field Experience.
  • The Assistant Director of Field Experience and the clinical instructor in consultation with the building principal assign student placements for the DES, PETE and SHE programs.
  • If teachers or administrators are interested in working with clinical students, they should contact the Office of Field Experience at 608-785-8126.

Who do I talk to if I have a problem with a teacher candidate in a field setting?
Teacher candidates must display the professional dispositions and behaviors expected of professionals in a learning environment. Cooperating teachers should alert the clinical instructor and the Assistant Director of the Office of Field Experience as early as possible if they feel a teacher candidate is not displaying the expected professional dispositions and behaviors.  After consultation, the cooperating teacher and/or clinical instructor may want to complete a School of Education Notice of Concern form. These forms can be found on the School of Education Web site at: http://www.uwlax.edu/soe/facultystaff/tcpr/documents/NoticeofConcern.pdf

When do teacher candidates need to complete criminal background checks?
All teacher candidates must complete a Wisconsin Department of Justice criminal background checks prior to their admittance to and participation in placements.

Who do I talk to if I have questions or concerns regarding a PDS at my school site?
Contact the Director of the School of Education at 608-785-8160.  The Director will refer you to the appropriate person or consult with PDS executive committee.

Student Teaching

What qualifications must I have to supervise student teachers?
Supervisors must have teaching experience and expertise in the specialty subject matter area and at the grade level of pupils being taught by the student teacher.

Who do I talk to about my supervising assignments?

  • The Director of the Office of Field Experience receives from Chairs the names of faculty and IAS with the number of student teachers he/she will supervise.
  • The Director of the Office of Field Experience hires ad hoc supervisors.
  • The Director of the Office of Field Experience assigns student teaching supervisors for all student teachers.

Who do I talk to if I have a problem with a student teacher in a field setting?
Contact the Director of the Office of Field Experience as early as possible if you feel a teacher candidate is not displaying the expected professional dispositions and behaviors. The Director may then consult with Program Directors, the cooperating teacher, and others.  After consultation, the cooperating teacher and supervisor may want to complete a School of Education Notice of Concern.  These forms can be found on the School of Education Web site at  http://www.uwlax.edu/soe/facultystaff/tcpr/documents/NoticeofConcern.pdf

Who do I talk to if I have questions or concerns regarding a PDS at my school site?
Contact the Director of the School of Education at 608-785-8160.  The Director will refer you to the appropriate person or consult with PDS executive committee.


Professional Development Schools

What is a Professional Development School?

Professional Development Schools (PDS) are schools that have joined with a university to accomplish educational goals that are mutually benefiting to each. A PDS is a collaboratively planned and implemented partnership for the academic and clinical preparation of teacher candidates and the continuous professional development of teachers. The design of a PDS partnership is based on outcomes for the PreK-12 students in the school with collaborative staff development and pre-service teacher preparation centered on those outcomes.  At a PDS, University courses are held within the school context.  These schools are clinical sites where cohorts of teacher candidates participate in structured learning experiences as part of their professional education programs.

Policies for Establishing a PDS

Establishing a PDS infrastructure that encourages PDS development and ensures sustainability depends on conversations of both breadth and depth among all stakeholders of the partnership.  These conversations must occur at multiple levels prior to any commitments being made concerning that development.  There must be an initial conversation between the school building administrator and interested University faculty in consultation with the Department Chair about the objectives, capacity and sustainability.  There must be a “commitment to plan” brought before the PDS executive committee for approval.  In addition, local school system superintendents or designees and the Director of the School of Education or designees must authorize PDS school sites.  While faculty members must be fully engaged in the collaborative process, the school district and university leaders must endorse the initiative, resulting in a signed professional development agreement between the school district and the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse.

Important Questions for Considering PDS Partnerships

University Questions

School Questions

  • Is the University faculty prepared to engage in the on-going collaboration necessary for the strategic planning and maintenance of a PDS, particularly in establishing the roles and responsibilities of all the parties involved and in working together to design and implement the partnership to mutually benefit both parties which includes collaborative professional development for teachers in the PDS?
  • Can the site offer teacher candidates experiences working with diverse learners?
  • Is the site able to provide a sufficient number of experienced, accomplished mentors to support the cohort of teacher candidates on an on-going basis?
  • Has the Department Chair, Director of the School of Education, and Dean of the College assessed issues of capacity in terms of generation of Student Credit Hours, equitable work load of faculty, and financial resources needed to support and sustain the PDS?
  • Is the Department willing to commit resources to assist in the analysis of data leading to an accountability process for the PDS?
  • Is the principal prepared to engage in (and encourage the staff to engage in) the on-going collaboration necessary for the strategic planning and maintenance of a PDS, particularly in establishing the roles and responsibilities of all the parties involved and in working together to design and implement the partnership to mutually benefit both parties, which includes collaborative professional development for teacher candidates?
  • Does the school staff aspire to the creation of a collaborative professional development model?
  • Is the school faculty willing to serve as cooperating teachers and mentors to teacher candidates on an on-going basis?
  • Is the principal willing to explore ways to equitably compensate staff members for the time and work spent in the PDS process?
  • Is the school staff willing to plan and engage in collaborative professional development activities for teachers and teacher candidates?

Below is a copy of the formal agreement:

An Agreement Between School District of La Crosse and the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse For the Establishment of Professional Development Schools 

Purposes

  1. Exemplary instruction and other educational experiences for PK-12 students
  2. Preparation of teachers and other school based educators
  3. Professional development of teachers and other school based educators
  4. Applied inquiry designed to improve practice

Rationale

The purpose of this agreement is to combine our resources and work together to improve results for School District of La Crosse students and candidates enrolled in the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse (UW-La Crosse) Teacher Education Unit programs.  It is hoped that this agreement will provide ongoing quality field and student teaching placements for teacher preparation students, and ongoing professional development for the School District of La Crosse teachers.

Belief Statements

  1. The partnership will result in improved learning opportunities for all PK-16 students.
  2. The preparation of future teachers is the responsibility of the entire profession, both school based personnel and for those in higher education.
  3. The university and public schools should have equal say in the partnership.
  4. In order for the partnership arrangement to be a true partnership, responsibilities and resources much be shared.
  5. It is important for the public school teachers to understand the goals of the teacher preparation programs and it is important for the university faculty to understand the goals of the public schools.
  6. This partnership will result in improved professional development opportunities for faculty in the schools and university.

Benefits

  • La Crosse District students will benefit from the presence of additional “classroom teachers” who can provide ongoing attention to individual needs in the classroom. 
  • UW-La Crosse benefits from having a Professional Development Site, staffed by Partnership Faculty who are knowledgeable about UW-La Crosse programs and skilled in the use of supervision skills, where students can be placed for their pre-service field experiences. 
  • La Crosse School District teachers will benefit from the chance to grow professionally in areas that may not be otherwise available to them.  In addition, the possibility of team teaching with university-based faculty with regard to professional methods affords the opportunity to critically examine the curriculum and methodology currently being employed in their individual classroom.
  • La Crosse School District benefits from the presence of resources that they may use as the school sees fit in order to meet the needs of the school.
  • The profession benefits from new teachers who have been prepared and nurtured in an environment where professional practice, commitment to principles, and excellence were associated with the entire range of their field experiences.

Responsibilities

  1. La Crosse School District Faculty interested in becoming Partnership Faculty will agree to participate in a seminar (for 1 semester hour credit) that will prepare them to assume the responsibility of UW-La Crosse university supervisor of teacher education students (participation in the seminar, however, does not obligate the Partnership Faculty to assume a supervisory role).  UW-La Crosse will provide the instruction from this seminar through the Teacher Education Unit.
  2. UW-La Crosse will provide a faculty liaison that will assist in any policy oriented problems or cases that involve unusual difficulties and who will be redefining the roles of faculty supervisor and faculty liaison.  This individual will be responsible for maintaining communication between UW-La Crosse Faculty and School District Faculty.
  3. UW-La Crosse and the La Crosse School District agree to review the Professional Development School relationship as it evolves and to provide reasonable additional support to strengthen and improve the quality of the experience for PK-16 standards, and to consider new initiatives that would benefit the students from UW-La Crosse and from the La Crosse School District. 

Professional Development Agreement Between School District of La Crosse and the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse

This agreement may be terminated either by the School District or the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse by giving the other party one (1) year prior written notice.  Modifications of this agreement will require mutual written consent by the University and the School Corporation.

 

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School District                                                  University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

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Signature                                                         Signature

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Name                                                              Name

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Title                                                               Title

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Date                                                                Date