Field Placement Policies
For English, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, and World Language MajorsIn their field work, prospective teachers work closely with their mentor teachers, MSU liaisons, and MSU course instructors to put together in practice what they have learned and continue to learn about subject matter, curriculum, pedagogy and learners. Field placements are made carefully to ensure that students have ample opportunities not only for practical experience but also for thoughtful reflection upon the analysis of that experience.
Every year we place about 500 interns and more than 1200 teacher candidates in schools for practice work. As we place them, we want to make placements that will satisfy all, but we must balance a range of considerations described below. Teacher candidates should especially note that:
- We do not permit teacher candidates or interns to seek or arrange their own placements.
- We ask teacher candidates to express some of their preferences regarding placements, and
- We do attempt to satisfy those preferences, but we cannot guarantee to do so.
Placements are subject to changeThe teacher preparation program does not control, for example, school district decisions to re-assign teachers, or teachers' decisions or move or retire, or teachers getting ill or pregnant. So all placements are subject to change at any time due to circumstances beyond our control. Should this occur, we will make every attempt to find an alternative placement as soon as possible. Most teachers are off duty in the summer months, many go away for some period of time, and some desirable mentor teachers won't know their teaching assignments until August. So placement is likely to go slowly in June, July, and part of August, and early placements are not necessarily better placements.
Placements are made in partner schoolsWe place teacher candidates in schools where we have developed or are developing school-university partnerships for teacher education that offer better placement conditions. This means that whenever possible, teacher candidates are placed in groups within schools that are within a compact geographic area, rather than being distributed across many schools with only one or two teacher candidates in each. When teacher candidates are placed in groups in compact areas, MSU personnel can spend more of their time working with teacher candidates and developing strong partnerships with schools and teachers.
Placements match the certificateWe place teacher candidates in situations that match the teaching certificates that they want to earn. Placing all candidates in situations that match their intended certificates takes priority over placing any candidate in a preferred grade or situation.
Placements respond to urban needWe give high priority to placements in schools in urban centers that serve students who live in poverty, who live amidst substantial social problems, and/or who have special needs. We place teacher candidates where they can learn to teach diverse students in diverse settings. Michigan teaching certificates authorize the person who holds them to teach all Michigan children in given grades and subject matters. When teacher candidates accept admission to our program, they accept the obligation to prepare themselves to teach all those children, in all those places.
Placements protect the integrity of assessment and personal relationshipsWe avoid placing teacher candidates in situations where they are already known or may already have close associations with school personnel or students. The operating principle here is that evaluations of performance should not be subject to bias arising from important relationships or prior associations. For example:
- We do not place teacher candidates in school districts they attended as K-12 students, unless the district was a large urban district (e.g., Lansing, Detroit, Grand Rapids, Flint, Pontiac). In this event, we do not place teacher candidates in the schools they attended as K-12 students.
- We avoid placement in districts (or, in the case of large districts, in schools) where a close relative of the teacher candidate is employed.
Placements for TE 302, TE 407 and TE 408 are in the Lansing areaPrior to the internship, we place teacher candidates only in the Lansing area. Most teacher candidates are carrying a full academic program, only part of which is in teacher education. Therefore, we place teacher candidates, in TE 302, TE 407, and TE 408 only in schools within a 30-minute drive from MSU.
Placements in distant sites (Southeast Michigan and Grand Rapids areas)The teacher preparation program makes placements in the Southeast Michigan area because that is a major population center with a large urban center. Also, we wish to help teacher candidates reduce the expense of the program by offer the possibility of serving their internships closer to home. In making placements in the Southeast Michigan area, we follow these guidelines:
If a particular placement is offered in a requested distant area, and a teacher candidate declines it, that teacher candidate will not be guaranteed another placement in that requested distant area. That is, if the initial placement is declined, the candidates will go to the bottom of the list of candidates desiring that distant site, and if there are not sufficient placements to accommodate everyone who prefers that site, candidates who declined their initial placement will be placed instead in the Lansing area.
We attempt to make placements that require commutes of no more than forty-five minutes, one way. We cannot guarantee this feature of the placements. Particularly in the Southeast Michigan area, commuting times may be longer.
Placements follow a planned schedule
November: Teacher candidates who are on schedule for the internship in the next academic year complete the online Internship Placement Request form by December 1st.
November – January: Teacher candidates who are on schedule for the internship write resumes to prospective mentor teachers. Guidelines for writing a resume are in the Junior/Senior handbook. These resumes will be given to the school at which the Team is suggesting a placement. The Team contacts schools to talk about the number of interns each school would like to have.
February – March: The Team works with schools and teachers to arrange placements. Although we will try to accommodate a prospective intern's first choice of level (middle/high) or setting, we often cannot honor all of these in our attempts to match students with mentor teachers who are interested in working with an intern.
March - May: Students are informed of those placements that have been arranged and the procedure to follow to contact their prospective mentor teacher. The prospective intern and mentor teacher report back to the Team to confirm the placement. The Team continues to identify placements for any interns who have not yet been placed.
June, July, August (and in a few cases September): Finish placements that could not be made on the intended schedule, and re-place prospective interns whose placements fell through.