Internship Support and Problem Solving Policy
- All interns should be supported systematically; none should be neglected on the grounds that s/he is doing well.
- When interns are making inadequate progress or failing to achieve standards, they should be informed at the earliest feasible time and provided supported opportunities to correct their performance.
- In allocating support to interns, we should balance the principle that all interns deserve support with the principle that all interns should be aided, if they can, to quality for their teaching certificates.
- Intern support and problem-solving should be documented. The documentation should describe to interns' performances and problems and Mentor Teachers' and instructors' efforts to assist them.
- If we are to achieve all of these principles, interns will have to play their parts by requesting support, receiving support, and doing something with it.
Please note that "instructor" includes Mentor Teachers, field instructors, and course instructors.
Mentor Teachers, field instructors, course instructors, and cluster leaders should share information and ideas regularly and informally about the interns for whom they are responsible, with the aim of keeping in touch with interns' progress and detecting problems early. When we let problems ride, we squander precious time that could be used to correct them.
Field instructors, as a primary responsibility (and other instructors as appropriate) should make and keep documentation of interns' performances and support provided, and of interns' problems, and steps taken to help the interns overcome them. This information includes copies of notes from classroom observations; the carbonless observation forms make it possible for observers to keep copies for themselves while giving copies to the intern and Mentor Teacher. The documentation also includes copies of notes from meetings or conferences, particularly including notes about work that the intern is expected to do or changes that he or she is expected to make as a result of the discussion and descriptions of the support to be provided by Mentor Teachers, field instructors, and perhaps other instructors. The documentation might also include copies of lesson plans, unit plans, or teaching materials that the intern shared; copies of correspondence with the intern or about the intern among instructors; and copies of materials used in assessment conferences, including assessments by the field instructor and Mentor Teacher, and the intern's Professional Development Plan.
The field instructor and the Mentor Teacher should talk before the assessment conference and, as necessary, reach agreement about (a) how to discuss concerns with the intern and (b) what kinds of steps the intern should take to address those concerns. If the field instructor and the Mentor Teacher disagree or would like additional help, they should consult the cluster leader. Calling in the cluster leader is not a mark of failure for Mentor Teachers or field instructors; rather, it is calling on additional resources to assure that the intern succeeds.
The nature and seriousness of instructors' concern(s) should be clearly explained in the assessment conference forms. The intern's Professional Development Plan should include specific steps that the intern will take to address the concern(s), preferably with deadlines attached. Equally important, the Professional Development Plan should state how instructors will help the intern to make the corrections or improvements called for. The field instructor should send copies of the assessments and the intern's Professional Development Plan to the cluster leader.
If one of the instructors is concerned about an intern's classroom teaching, then s/he should request additional observations from other instructors (i.e., the field instructor, and/or the Mentor Teacher), either directly or through the cluster leader. The cluster leader should be notified about the instructors' concerns.
Make sure that notes or other written feedback include clear statements or explanations of the problem(s). Keep notes about who was consulted and when, including copies of E-mail contacts and other informal contacts. Keep copies of observation notes or feedback from the Mentor Teacher and other instructors. Make notes about the steps that Mentor Teacher, field instructor and others take to help the intern.
In such cases the cluster leader should be engaged to conduct a Professional Growth Conference, and the Elementary Teacher Preparation Program Coordinator should be informed.
A Professional Growth Conference is chaired by a cluster leader, with the knowledge of the Elementary Teacher Preparation Program Coordinator. The Conference includes the intern and as many of the intern's instructors as are relevant. A Professional Growth Conference can be scheduled in the place of a mid-semester or end-of-semester assessment conference.
The cluster leader and instructors should consult before a Professional Growth Conference and reach agreement about (a) how to discuss their concerns with the intern, (b) what kinds of steps the intern should take to address them, and (c) possible consequences if the intern fails to address the concerns.
The instructors should enter the conference with assessment forms or other written documentation (either the assessment form or other documentation) that (a) clearly explains the nature and seriousness of the instructors' concerns and (b) explains possible consequences if the intern fails to address those concerns. This documentation should be developed in consultation with the cluster leader.
After the Professional Growth Conference the cluster leader will write a letter to the intern that (a) clearly explains the nature and seriousness of the interns' failures to perform, (b) explains possible consequences if the intern fails to improve the performance, (c) lists specific steps that the intern should take to correct the performance, and (d) states the support that instructors will provide the intern to make those corrections. Copies go to the intern, the instructors who attended the Professional Growth Conference, and the Elementary Teacher Preparation Program Coordinator.
The intern should write a response to the letter, indicating that he or she understands the instructors' concerns and agrees to take the steps specified in their letter. if the intern does not agree, then we have a "dispute" and the TE Department's Procedures for handling disputes between students and instructors apply.
The most serious outcomes
In the case of failure in a Professional Growth Conference or failure to correct the problem after a Conference, more serious consequences are possible. The include changing the intern's placement, delaying the beginning of lead teaching, extending the internship beyond its scheduled conclusion, voluntary withdrawal from the program by the intern; a grade of 1.5 or less on TE 501 or 502, making it necessary to repeat the internship; and dismissal from the program.
As these serious outcomes may become disputes between interns and instructors, the TE Department's Procedures for handling disputes between students and instructors should be kept clearly in mind, and the Elementary Teacher Preparation Program Leader should be informed.