Before being considered for admission to the teacher internship (Gateway 5: teacher internship experience), candidates must have already met Gateway 4a criteria, as listed in the assessment plan under Standard 2. Gateway 5 is a 16 to 20 week teacher internship experience dependent upon the areas of endorsement the candidate is seeking. Education candidates are required to complete Gateways 4a and 4b before being admitted to Gateway 5 (student/teacher internship).
Completion of the teaching internship requires that candidates demonstrate acceptable knowledge, skills and dispositions. The major means for assessing teacher intern (candidate) knowledge, skills and dispositions are: 1) Cooperating P-12 Teacher Intern Evaluation Form, 2) College Supervisor assessments using the Teacher Intern Checklist, 3) Teacher Work Sample, 4) Candidate Self-evaluation Form, and 5) the teacher intern’s final Grade Point Average (GPA). Additional evaluation of candidate knowledge, skills and dispositions are assessed through entries in their weekly reflective journal, and through the completion of activities associated with the CSC Teacher Internship Guidebook (cover page, TOC page 1, TOC page 2).
During the teacher internship experience, the cooperating teacher/s, the college supervisor/s, and the teacher intern work collaboratively as members of the internship team, with the goal of providing the Intern with opportunities to learn and grow as a professional teacher-leader in the field of Education. Cooperating teacher and college Supervisor(s), in collaboration with one another, use both formative (observations and feedback conferences, teacher intern checklist, and/or Guidebook) and summative (final evaluation, TWS, guidebook grade) assessments to evaluate candidate level of performance with regard to desired knowledge, skills and dispositions. If significant concerns are identified during the teacher-intern experience, candidates are required to embark on a "plan of improvement" specifying knowledge, skills and/or dispositions that need to be improved upon. This plan is collaboratively developed by the P-12 cooperating teacher, the intern, the college supervisor, and the Director of Field Experiences. Specific objectives for improvement, as well as strategies and tactics for success are identified, along with a timeline for demonstrated improvement.
As the principle member of the internship team, the cooperating teacher observes the intern throughout the field experience and provides a mid-semester and a final feedback evaluation. The college supervisor makes an initial planning visit at the onset of the internship, and observes the Intern on site at least five (preferably six) times throughout the internship experience. Cooperating teachers are urged to provide feedback on a daily basis, and more formally on a weekly basis. The college supervisor works with the cooperating teacher and the Intern by guiding and assisting in the development for future growth and leadership. Continuous communication, as well as a common final evaluation meeting, with input from both cooperating teacher and college supervisors, is required.
Following each observation site visit, college supervisors lead candidates in the process of analysis and reflection on their teaching, its impact on student learning, and in the determination of the candidates’ progress. Candidates are asked to reflect on their knowledge, skills and dispositions, and to suggest strengths and means for improving student learning. Candidates maintain a reflective journal during their internship, and reflection is also a key component of the Teacher Work Sample (TWS, Rubric). During each visit the college supervisor also meets with the cooperating teacher to discuss strengths, areas for improvement, and overall progress of the candidate.
Knowledge of content, skills, and dispositions are all components of teacher intern assessment. The Teacher Intern Checklist, CSC Teacher Internship Guidebook, TWS, and evaluation instruments all provide data used to assess the level of intern knowledge, skills, and dispositions. Unit faculty, in both Education, and in the candidate’s content area, conduct school site visitations during the internship semester (a minimum of five (preferable six) total visits during the 16 or 18 week internship period).
In the early 1990’s the Education Unit restructured its preservice curriculum to include a two-day cultural immersion field experience on South Dakota's Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, 45 miles to the north. This field experience is a requirement for all professional year preservice candidates and is part of the Human Relations/Multicultural Education course (EDUC 415). This required course gives candidates cause to consider the influence of human relations upon learning, growth and development. Discussion includes an examination of significant problems in education as they relate to multi-ethnic and special needs student populations. Emphasis is placed on the development of interpersonal skills, classroom climate, and in meeting the emotional and learning needs of all student learners. The associated field experience works as a means for increasing personal and professional sensitivity to other cultures.
Prior to this two-day cultural enrichment field experience, preservice candidates are provided with a pre-departure orientation program where they participate in individual and group activities structured to enhance their sensitization to diverse populations and cultures. One such activity is a multicultural simulation called "BaFa, BaFa," where candidates are divided into one of two segregated communities, each with its own language, culture and prejudices. Simulation participants must negotiate back and forth between communities for items of trade or for permission to pursue an endeavor. Participants thus experience the feelings of bias, prejudice, and scorn. In addition to these activities, candidates are assigned specific reading materials, discuss current and past policy regarding the education and governance of Native Americans, identify and evaluate contemporary stereotypes and beliefs pertaining to Native American's (e.g., culture, social values, religion, behavioral norms).
During the actual field experience, candidates spend their days touring and observing at public and private elementary, secondary and post-secondary reservation schools, the former of which are administered by the U.S. Bureau for Indian Affairs (BIA), independently through BIA contracts, or by religious orders such as the Catholic Church. Candidates meet with P-12 school administrators, teachers, students, and parents in an effort to learn if and how things are done differently in reservation schools. Candidates observe classes within their discipline, content area, and grade-level, and frequently assist in the delivery of instruction. In the evening, candidates hear presentations from a variety of speakers on such topics as Lakota culture and religion, the dying art of Lakota storytelling, and participate in a traditional Native American meal. This field experience creates an awareness of differences between and among societies and causes our candidates to think more concretely about culture and how it impacts learning. One significant difference identified in reservation schools is the actual incorporation of the Native American culture directly into the learning process.
Table 1.25 shows aggregate data illustrating candidate differences as determined from analysis between pre-departure and post-field experience questionnaire results.
Field experiences at the advanced level are defined as either an internship, practicum, scholarly project, thesis, or other approved P-12 school related activity (i.e., action research). Because programs are so different, departments have additional criteria specific to each program. For advanced programs, the assessment system specifies Gateway 4 as "completion of field experience activity". As with Gateway 3, the general criteria for advanced programs are the same, but, because programs are so different, departments have additional criteria specific to each program.