School of Education - Accreditation Self-Study Report

Standard 3: Collaboration Between Unit and School Partners

SCSU values collaboration with area schools in the development of the next generation of teachers. We know that candidates need “real-world” experiences in order to practice the skills and strategies they are learning in their coursework. Our school partners play a critical role in the development of these young teachers and provide rich feedback about program strengths and gaps that help us improve what we do. Together, we deliver and evaluate the clinical and field experiences necessary for success. Guiding the development of teachers and other school professionals requires collaboration between many people.

  • Field Experience Teachers - host a candidate in a field experience prior to student teaching and complete an evaluation of the knowledge skills and professional dispositions the candidate demonstrates during that time.
  • Cooperating Teachers - mentor and support our candidates in their culminating student teaching experience. They work collaboratively with university supervisors in the evaluation of the candidate during their sixteen week experience. Candidates in K-12 and 5-12 programs will have two placements, at two different levels (elementary and secondary, or middle level and high school). Early childhood candidates also have two placements at different levels (preschool and elementary).
  • University Supervisors - observe candidates in the classroom setting, provide feedback and guide candidate growth. They are faculty in either tenure track, fixed term or adjunct positions who have expertise in P-12 education, with at least two years teaching experience (in a school) at the level they supervise. Supervisors participate in regular meetings with faculty representatives and the Office of Clinical Experiences (OCE) to stay current with supervisory requirements (Exhibits 3.4.d.1; 3.4.d.2; 3.4.d.3).
  • Content Faculty Supervisors - may also observe and evaluate candidates’ pedagogical content knowledge and skills. These discipline-specific faculty complete additional assessments and provide feedback to candidates.
  • On-site supervisors - oversee the internships of our candidates in advanced programs and programs for other school professionals. On-site supervisors provide guidance and feedback to the intern and complete all required evaluations and assessments of candidate competency.

SCSU has been a leader in the national movement to implement co-teaching strategies in student teaching for the past decade, researching the impact co-teaching strategies have on candidate development and P-12 learner outcomes (Exhibit 3.4.h.1). Our P-12 partners have embraced this model and urged SCSU to prepare all candidates in these strategies (Exhibit 3.4.h.6). Cited as a “promising practice” in NCATE’s 2010 Blue Ribbon Panel Report, co-teaching has gained momentum as school and university partnerships nationwide have begun to reap the benefits of this design (Exhibit 3.4.h.4). In co-teaching, teacher candidates and experienced classroom teachers work side-by-side, sharing planning, instruction and reflection (Exhibit 3.4.h.2; 3.4.h.3). P-12 students benefit from having two professionally prepared adults in the classroom, and teacher candidates benefit from closer collaboration with their mentor teacher. Cooperating teachers receive preparation in the foundations of co-teaching and important collaboration strategies. University supervisors are also prepared in what to look for in co-taught classrooms. With four co-teaching modules strategically embedded in specific courses and a culminating session about co-teaching at the student teaching orientation, our candidates have the background they need to be successful in a co-taught classroom (Exhibit 3.4.h.5).

Personnel in the OCE work closely with co-teaching specialists and building administrators to make the best possible placement for each candidate. All districts in which we place teacher candidates sign a Memorandum of Agreement with the State of Minnesota (Exhibit 3.4.a.2). The St. Cloud School District, the largest district in our immediate vicinity, has also developed a liaison position to work with SCSU on securing placements and mentorship opportunities for teacher candidates (Exhibit 3.4.a.3). The liaison acts as a point person for both the university and the district in regard to requirements and expectations or candidate concerns and makes personal visits to support cooperating teachers in their mentorship of candidates.

Every semester, the OCE organizes a Professional Development Day for candidates near the end of student teaching (Exhibits 3.4.a.4; 3.4.a.5). This is an exciting opportunity for exiting candidates, with keynote speakers and breakout sessions tailored to the needs of new teachers. University faculty and P-12 teachers and administrators present sessions on a wide range of topics. Professional Development Days epitomize the partnerships between the university and area schools both in planning the event and delivering the content.

SCSU has benefited from the Bush Foundation funded Teacher Preparation Initiative (TPI), the focus of which has been establishing meaningful partnerships with P-12 teachers and administrators in the work of developing highly qualified teachers. P-12 partners have been involved in the redesign of the conceptual framework, the development of proposals reforming our programs and supporting new teachers.