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1.     What should I expect to do during the student teaching semester?

Most elementary education majors and some secondary education majors remain in one classroom placement  for the entire semester.  If this is the case for you, the initial pacing of the student teaching semester begins a bit more slowly.  Initially, student teachers observe the mentor teacher at work—how they interact with their students, how they handle classroom procedures, how they maintain classroom discipline, etc.  After several days of observing and conferencing with the mentor teacher, student teachers should be able to develop, with input from the mentor teacher, an initial lesson plan.  Gradually, over the course of the experience, student teachers should receive more teaching responsibility and completely take over all teaching responsibilities for a minimum of two weeks during each experience with no less than four weeks of full-time teaching during the semester.

Special education majors, K-12 majors, and most secondary education majors have two six-week placements. You will observe the first week and begin teaching sometime during the second full week of each experience.  You should expect to take over full-time teaching responsibilities for a minimum of two weeks each experience.

You will be monitored and mentored by your mentor teacher, who will provide you with both informal coaching and formal critiques on the student teaching assessment forms.  Your university supervisor and mentor teacher will formally evaluate your teaching skills twice each experience for a total of four formal evaluations.  These evaluations are announced before they occur, so that you will know when you are to be evaluated.

2.     What tests must I have taken to student teach?

The Praxis II Content Area test and Principles of Learning and Teaching (PLT) must be taken and scores on file prior to graduation.  While you may take these tests during the student teaching semester, you will not be excused from student teaching to do so.  It is strongly encouraged that you take these tests no later than the semester before student teaching.  During the student teaching semester, scheduling these tests on weekends or during your placement school’s holidays is the only acceptable scheduling option.

For more information on the Praxis II and PLT, click here 

Elementary education majors must also take the Mississippi Foundations of Reading test to receive their teaching license.  This test is not a requirement for graduation, but a passing grade is required to receive your elementary teaching license from MDE.

3.     What are the dates for student teaching?

Please refer to the calendar found in the left menu of this website. 

Student teachers must return to campus for Professional Development Seminar (PDS) days.  Most of the seminar days are held on the Hattiesburg campus, but occasionally Gulf Coast students will attend seminars on the Gulf Park campus.  Outside of the PDS days on the Hattiesburg campus, student teachers will follow the school calendar of the placement school.  You will not observe USM’s fall or spring break days.  You will observe the same holidays that teachers in your placement district observe.

4.     Currently I am a teacher assistant in my school.  How will I student teach and be a TA? 

If you are enrolled as an elementary education major and are employed as a teacher assistant in an elementary classroom at an approved school, you may complete your clinical lab experiences and student teaching (with district approval) in your classroom.       

5.    Do I have to complete another background check to student teach?

Currently, only two or three districts require student teachers to complete an additional background check right before student teaching.  If you request to student teach in a district that does require the additional background check, you will be informed of this additional requirement.  Because students are responsible for payment of the additional background check, you will be allowed to change your plaement to another district that does not have the additional background check requirement.

6.    What personal attributes and professional responsibilities does the successful student teacher possess?

Teacher candidates respect those with whom they work:  Educational Field Experiences staff, Cooperating Teachers, University Supervisors, school administrators and staff members, students and their families, and fellow teacher candidates.  Teacher candidates should consider themselves members of the educational profession and act in all matters according to the  Mississippi Teacher Code of Ethics.   Candidates must remember that field experiences are learning situations and should be willing and eager both to receive and implement suggestions.   All teacher candidates must assume responsibility for knowing their legal responsibilities.  Teacher candidates should pay close attention to personal hygiene and grooming habits, assuring that their personal appearance and deportment are appropriate and meet with the district guidelines.

7.     What is the role of the University Supervisor?

Your University Supervisor serves to assist you in becoming a professional educator.  The University Supervisor will provide you with instructional feeback--informal and formal.  Your University Supervisor will observe a minimum of four formal lessons for evaluation purposes.  The teacher candidate should be reflective, appreciative of constructive criticism and coaching, seek suggestions, and put suggestions into practice. 

8.    What is the role of the Mentor Teacher also known as the Cooperating Teacher?

Teacher candidates should always remember that the Cooperating Teachers are in control of and responsible for the class. Cooperating Teachers and teacher candidates should respect each others' professional philosophies and perspectives. Teacher candidates should accept the Cooperating Teacher’s decisions and opinions concerning both the material to be covered and the method of presentation.  If a teacher candidate is having difficulty, the Cooperating Teacher and University Supervisor should be consulted.

9.    Corporal punishment is still allowed in some school districts.  What is USM’s rule about student teachers and corporal punishment?

USM student teachers cannot participate in any level of corporal punishment.       

10.   What are the most important points to remember about student teaching?

The student teacher must keep confidential all information about students and school personnel. A student teacher can and will be removed from a school placement if confidentiality is breached.  The student teacher should be sympathetic and courteous toward all pupils and show enthusiasm throughout the student teaching experience.  The student teacher must realize that each pupil is an individual and take into consideration individual abilities, interests, and capacities for learning. The student teacher must be completely impartial in dealing with pupils and must constantly strive to be fair while working with students.  The student teacher should refrain from imposing personal views upon pupils and should exhibit a broad-minded, tolerant attitude toward others. 



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College of Education and Human Sciences

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Hattiesburg, MS 39406

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