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Part 1: The Penn State Student Teaching Program

  1. Definition of Student Teaching
  2. Teacher Education Performance Framework
  3. Your Responsibilities as a Student Teacher
  4. Responsibilities of the University Supervisor
  5. Roles and Responsibilities of the Mentor Teacher
  6. Role of the Principal and Other School Personnel
  7. Policies and Procedures
    1. Courses and Deferred Grades
    2. Code of Professional Practice and Conduct for Educators
    3. Guest-Host Relationship
    4. School/Community Norms
    5. Academic Integrity
    6. Presentation of Self
    7. Field Site Attendance and Participation Obligations
    8. Teacher–Student Interaction
    9. Grading
    10. Internet Personalities and Professionalism

1. Definition of Student Teaching

As the final clinical component of your teacher preparation program, student teaching is a full-time, full-semester experience. Student teaching provides you with a carefully mentored experience to help you gain knowledge, skills, and dispositions helpful in becoming a great teacher.

Student teaching is a cooperative endeavor. Our host schools work closely with the CIFE office at Penn State to provide beneficial experiences for you. Hosting a student teacher in a school classroom is a major professional commitment on the part of our host schools and their mentor teachers. The tremendous generosity of our mentor teachers allows you to fulfill your wish to become a teacher. 

2. Teacher Education Performance Framework

As a student in the Penn State teacher certification program you follow the Penn State Teacher Performance Framework. This framework addresses proficiencies in the following four domains:

  • Planning for Student Learning
  • Teaching
  • Analyzing Student Learning and Inquiring into Your Own Teaching, and
  • Fulfilling the Professional Responsibilities of Teaching 

3. Your Responsibilities as the Student Teacher

Because of the demands placed on you during the student teaching semester, no additional coursework is permitted without approval from the CIFE office. For this same reason, you are strongly discouraged from having a job while student teaching. Among your responsibilities, successful completion of student teaching requires that you:

  1. Be an active, honest, and tactful communicator—with your cooperating mentor teacher, your university supervisor, your fellow student teachers, and any others with whom you will work alongside. Clear communication is always the first step toward understanding, improvement and growth. Many questions inevitably arise. Do not hesitate to ask them. 
  2. Display initiative. You display initiative by quickly learning school procedures; by learning the names of people working in your assigned building; by volunteering for duties inside and outside your assigned classroom; and, by asking what more you can do to improve educational experiences for your students.
  3. Be reliable. You must fulfill the expectations of your cooperating mentor teacher and your supervisor, including, (a) arriving promptly at school each day, and remaining until the mentor teacher is scheduled to leave the school; (b) maintaining a comprehensive calendar of meetings and assignments; (c) keeping thorough records of your assignments and other expectations; and (d) responding quickly to emails and other correspondence.
  4. Be responsible. There are many tasks, assignments, and types of paperwork associated with student teaching. You must familiarize yourself with these expectations and complete all tasks to the best of your ability. Maintaining a highly organized and accessible filing system to keep track of all paperwork and assignments will facilitate successful completion of assignments. Your university supervisor will help you create this. 
  5. Display a professional disposition and appearance. Your reputation as a viable teaching candidate rests in large part on the care you take in your personal appearance as well as your choice of language usage. Develop a business-like, yet affable, rapport with the adults and students you will come to know by displaying integrity and honesty, among other qualities. As a guest of the school, you must comport yourself in ways that support the educational mission and culture of your field site school as well as our teacher education program. 

4. Responsibilities of the University Supervisor

Each university supervisor of student teachers is either a faculty member in Penn State’s College of Education or is a doctoral candidate in the College. Because your supervisor resides in the general vicinity of the student teaching placements, the supervisor is readily available to you (and school personnel) for consultation and assistance. It would serve you well to keep an up-to-date list of contact information in a handy place.

Prior to Student Teaching

University Park Interviews: During the semester prior to student teaching, prospective student teachers and university supervisors meet for the first time. Information is collected and reviewed to guide the supervisor in finding a suitable placement for you.

Assignment of School Placements: Each university supervisor, in compliance with individual school district and College of Education protocol, seeks and procures specific school placements for each student teacher assigned to her/his cohort. To become a mentor teacher, the teacher must earn the approval of his/her building principal, as well as their district’s school board.

University Park Orientation: Each university supervisor conducts an orientation session at the University Park campus during the latter part of the semester preceding student teaching. At this orientation, your supervisor will provide you with up-to-date information about your specific school placement, housing options, transportation, and important dates for your calendar, among other essential details.

Orientation in the Field:  At the beginning of the student teaching practicum, each university supervisor conducts an orientation session for her/his cohort at a location central to the school placement sites. In this orientation, your supervisor will detail program requirements and expectations and help you complete various administrative tasks.

Suggested Schedule - Student teaching 15 weeks

Week 1 Observing, assisting, and possible co-teaching
Weeks 2-3 10-20% of (co)teaching and (co)planning responsibilities
Weeks 4-5 30-40% of (co)teaching and (co)planning responsibilities
Week 6
40-60% of (co)teaching and (co)planning responsibilities
Mid-term Conference
First PDE 430 completed
First St-q completed
Weeks 8-9 75-90% of co-planning and co-teaching responsibilities
Weeks 9-11 Full time co-planning and teaching co-responsibilities
Week 10-14

Full time planning and teaching responsibilities 

Week 15

Final Conference
Final ST-1 completed
Second PDE 430 completed

During the Practicum

One of the benefits of having local supervising faculty is the opportunity for frequent observations and conferences with each of you throughout the student teaching experience. The observation-conference-goal setting cycle is critical to your progress and ongoing professional development. The many tasks required of the university supervisor during the practicum includes:

  1. Observing Performance: The university supervisor observes you in a variety of teaching-learning situations on a regular basis during the student teaching experience. You can expect to be observed every week or two. In consultation with you, each supervisor determines his/her observation schedule. Their observation records are used as a basis for helping you reflect on your progression through the experience. 
  2. Conferencing: Direct and regular feedback is provided through conferences between you, your supervisor, and your mentor teacher. 
  3. Initial Conference: The supervisor holds an initial conference during the first week of student teaching to discuss adjustments to the student teaching practicum.
  4. Post-Observation Conference: The supervisor often conducts a conference soon after a teaching observation. Three-way conferences, which include the mentor teacher, are scheduled when appropriate. Observation data is used to help identify appropriate goals for change and improvement. Self-evaluation in the form of reflection is encouraged to help you understand the impact of teaching behaviors upon students’ learning and development.
  5. Mid-Semester Conference: The supervisor schedules a three-way conference between the student teacher, mentor and teacher, university supervisor near the midpoint in the semester. The purpose of this conference is to review evidence about your performance at this stage of your field experience. You will be asked to provide evidence of your accomplishments in each of the four performance domains, (See Appendix A) and to participate in setting personal professional goals for the rest of the experience. This evidence becomes part of your portfolio conference held mid-way through the semester.
  6. Final Conference: A final three-way assessment conference is scheduled near the end of the student teaching experience. You will be required to present evidence demonstrating the extent to which you have accomplished each of the standards of the Performance-based Assessment and have met your list of personal professional goals.
  7. General Conferences: Two-way and three-way conferences are held as the need arises throughout the semester to help you become the most effective teacher you can become.
  8. Weekly Seminars: The university supervisor plans and conducts weekly seminars that focus on your needs and concerns, as well as current educational issues. Topics will include assessment, classroom management, instructional strategies, differentiated instruction, special education topics, educational law, the job search, current trends in teaching, etc.
  9. Resource for the Mentor teacher: Throughout the practicum, the supervisor serves as a resource for mentor teachers to assist them in their role as mentors.

After the Practicum

The university supervisor ensures that (1) practicum grade reporting; (2) the student teaching cumulative file; and (3) final assessments completed by the supervisor and mentor teacher are filed appropriately with the CIFE office. When your field experience is over, the College of Education’s certification officer in the advising office forwards evidence of successful completion of student teaching (PDE form 430) to the Pennsylvania Department of Education. At this time, the supervisor also thanks the mentor teacher and the school district for hosting you. Upon successful completion of the experience, the supervisor and the mentor will write a letter of recommendation for you.  

The University expects student teachers to become capable of teaching independently during the student teaching experience. That said, co-teaching with the mentor teacher is our preferred model of teaching when possible. In addition to co-teaching, the student teacher should experience some solo teaching.

Supervisor Responsibilities for Short-Term Student Teaching Abroad

  1. The U.S. student teaching supervisor will complete a PDE 430 at the mid- point of the semester and a final PDE 430 at the end of the U.S. experience. 
  2. The U.S. student teaching supervisor, mentor and student will complete ST-1 assessments and participate in conferences at the mid-point and at the end of the PA experience. 
  3. In order to leave the PA placement and go abroad, the student teacher’s performance must warrant at least a satisfactory rating at the end of the PA experience. The U.S. supervisor will give the final performance rating with consultation from the mentor. (Students are required to purchase trip insurance so that they will not forfeit the travel money if they are not able to go to the host nation placement.)
  4. Short-Term Student Teaching Abroad begins after a twelve-week experience at the initial student teaching site.  The Coordinator will determine the concluding date for the twelve-week experience based upon the starting date for their cohort. Student teachers planning to take advantage of the Short-Term Teaching opportunity should request the anticipated concluding dates for the twelve-week experience before making travel arrangements to go abroad.
  5. While at the host-nation school, the student teacher will send weekly journals/blogs via email to the U.S supervisor from the list of suggested topics. The student teacher will also complete the Final Performance Framework Portfolio Assignment and will submit it to the supervisor for evaluation.
  6. At the end of student teaching, student teaching supervisors will assign a grade for CI 495D/F/E that is based on performance in the classroom in PA as well as the required student teaching assignments, submission of weekly journals, and the final portfolio.
  7. PA supervisors, international supervisors, and mentor teachers will write letters of reference for the student teacher.
  8. If a student teacher leaves his/her international placement prior to the contracted number of weeks abroad, s/he will return to his/her PA student teaching site to fulfill student teaching requirements.

Suggested Schedule - Short Term Student Teaching Abroad

Week 1 Observing, assisting, and possible co-teaching
Weeks 2-3 Co-planning and co-teaching 1 to 2 lessons per day
Weeks 4-5 40-60% of co-teaching and co-planning responsibilities
Week 6 Mid-term Conference
First PDE 430 completed
First ST-1 completed
Weeks 7-8 75-90% of co-planning and co-teaching responsibilities
Weeks 9-11 Full time co-planning and teaching co-responsibilities
Week 12
Last week in U.S. placement

Final Conference
Final ST-1 completed
Second PDE 430 completed

5. Roles and Responsibilities of the Mentor Teacher

Research in field experiences confirms the common wisdom that the classroom mentor teacher exerts a powerful influence over your values, attitudes and practices. The mentor’s influence begins by setting the stage for a classroom environment that favors your success and provides on-going guidance. By accepting a student teacher as another professional in the classroom, the mentor shares planning and teaching responsibilities with you. The mentoring relationship requires a delicate balance between modeling the mentor’s practices, and affording opportunities that encourage your particular talents. The mentors’ role involves engagement in the following six categories:

(1) Welcoming You to the Classroom

Prior to, and during the first few weeks of student teaching, the mentor teacher can help you adjust to the school setting in some of the following ways:

  • Informing students that there will be another teacher in the room. This helps both you and the classroom students adjust to the new situation.
  • Conversing informally in order to get to know you as an individual.
  • Making introductions to faculty and other school personnel.
  • Providing you with a work area and a space for personal belongings and making available copies of student texts, teacher’s editions, district curriculum guidelines, etc.
  • Acquainting you with instructional supplies, teaching aids, and available equipment (e.g., interactive whiteboards, computer hardware and software, copying machines).
  • Encouraging you to learn the names of the students, teachers, and other building personnel as quickly as possible.
  • Helping you to become acquainted with people in the community in which the school resides.
  • Sensitizing you to the unique culture of the community and the educational resources and opportunities that the community offers.
  • Familiarizing you with district policies and procedures.

(2) Enhancing Observation and Participation

Early in the practicum, you observe carefully while acquainting yourself with the culture and pedagogy of your classroom. The mentor teacher provides assistance with effective observation and comfortable participation by:

  • Encouraging you to observe with a purpose: suggested foci include how lessons are introduced and closed, strategies to maintain students’ interest and management techniques used to create an effective classroom learning environment.
  • Providing opportunities to observe and study classroom routines, procedures and rules.
  • Introducing you to classroom management styles and teaching procedures, and discussing different ways to handle problems.
  • Encouraging involvement in preparation and discussion of daily and long-term planning, including assessment and record keeping techniques.
  • Inviting you to participate in activities that will build confidence, generate positive interaction with students, and acquire the organizational skills (e.g., taking roll, administering tests, reading aloud, giving individual help to students, grading papers and recording grades) requisite to good teaching.
  • Involving you in school meetings.
  • Appropriately including you in formal and informal conferences with parents.
  • Familiarizing you with routine classroom duties apart from preparing and implementing lessons.
  • Introducing you to record-keeping procedures and practices.
  • Utilizing a variety of observation techniques and the sharing of data collected with you.

(3) Providing Support as You Move into a Full-time Teaching Role

By the end of the practicum, you will be expected to experience all aspects of full-time teaching responsibilities. Throughout the experience, the mentor teacher will be available to provide support, suggestions, alternatives, and guidelines.

(4) Supervising Performance

A key component of success in student teaching is the quality of the daily supervision. High quality supervision includes all of the following actions:

  • Observing on a regular basis and in a variety of situations.
  • Providing feedback on the performance of professional responsibilities, including: lesson planning; implementation and assessment; classroom interaction; and, maintenance of records.
  • Including both positive and negative perceptions of performance so that you know what you are doing well and what needs more attention.
  • Helping to relate teaching theories and philosophies to the actual teaching in the classroom by explicitly explaining the rationale for the selection of particular instructional materials and methods in the classroom.
  • Identifying the ways in which basic principles of learning are applied.
  • Encouraging sound preparation and organization by requiring all lesson plans be available to your mentor teacher at least 24 hours in advance of all planned teaching.
  • Discussing each lesson plan to offer suggestions prior to teaching. These suggestions may address topics such as: (a) encouraging independent, creative thinking in planning, (b) the use of appropriate materials, (c) building motivation for learning, and (d) suggesting alternative teaching approaches.
  • Withholding criticism during a lesson except when a correction would be in the best interest of the classroom students.
  • Helping to develop consistent classroom management techniques that support learning, self-control, differentiation of instruction, and respect for others.
  • Encouraging a working environment in which you feel poised and confident.
  • Modeling ways to personalize learning so that the students in the classroom develop a sense of affiliation, security and achievement.
  • Supporting the habit of continual self-assessment through reflection—including post-lesson analyses.
  • Encouraging and supporting a healthy rapport between you and the classroom students by cultivating a collegial, professional, working relationship.

(5) Conferencing with You

  • Regularly held conferences guide your successful development during the student teaching practicum.
  • Conferences may involve two or more individuals (e.g., mentor teacher, student teacher, university supervisor, building administrator).
  • Conferences can be scheduled or can be spontaneous; they can be formal or informal.
  • Each participant should understand the purpose of each conference and should feel free to play an active role in contributing, suggesting, and listening.

(6) Assessment

  • Weekly written feedback is necessary for the student teacher’s continual growth throughout the experience.
  • Upon successful completion of the program, the mentor will write a letter of recommendation for the student teacher.
  • The following evaluation forms must be completed in order to report the student teacher’s performance:
FormCompleted ByAt MidtermAt Final
Penn State Performance-Based Assessment (Form ST-1) with accompanying narrative at final University supervisor
Mentor teacher
Student teacher (optional at the direction of supervisor)
PDE 430 University Supervisor ONLY YES YES
Midterm Goals Sheet Student Teacher YES NO
PSU Discipline Specific Form (SEC ED & WL only) University Supervisor and/or Mentor Teacher NO YES

6. The Role of the Principal and Other School Personnel

The principal, or perhaps other school personnel, may orient you to the school culture in various ways. These may include some of the following: 

  • Making introductions to relevant faculty and staff.
  • Discussing school policies, rules, regulations, and general procedures, including use of school resources, attendance at school district in-service, lunch and transportation procedures, etc.
  • Sharing a brief history and description of the school.
  • Providing an orientation to the physical layout of the school.
  • Providing information on the school calendar, including holidays, half-days, parent conference dates and faculty meetings.
  • Establishing a place for receiving mail and school announcements.
  • Acquainting you with the role of school administration as it applies to teachers, students, parents, school board and community.
  • Meeting occasionally to determine how the student teaching experience is progressing. The principal or department chair may wish to observe you.
  • Inviting participation in school functions.
  • As the semester progresses, it is not uncommon for a student teacher to request that the principal observe a student teacher’s lesson for purposes of self-improvement and to determine if the principal would be an appropriate choice to ask for a letter of recommendation. Principals are under no obligation to observe you, or to write such a letter. However, if asked, the principal may choose to be involved in this way. 

7. Policies and Procedures

In order to ensure an optimal student teaching experience, and to be in compliance with state and national accreditation expectations, the following policies and procedures guide Penn State student teaching:

7.1. Courses and Deferred Grades

Student teaching is a full-time activity with all stakeholders holding the expectation that this practicum takes precedence for the duration of the student teaching semester. We strongly discourage additional coursework beyond the student teaching practicum and accompanying seminar. Experience has taught us that such enrollment may severely jeopardize your field experience. This policy extends to concurrent enrollment in courses described as correspondence, independent learning, distance education, online, continuing education, evening, weekend, and other resident credit courses taken at Penn State or other institutions. Note: Exceptions to this policy are allowed only when due to truly extenuating circumstance. These exceptions are extremely rare and will be made only upon consensus of relevant faculty and school district personnel, including your supervisor, mentor teacher, building administrator, university advisor, and CIFE director. Petitions for exceptions must begin with your academic advisor. 

Deferred grades must be completed before the start of the student teaching semester. Students enrolled in an Independent Learning course must complete all lessons prior to the beginning of the student teaching practicum. 

7.2. Code of Professional Practice and Conduct for Educators

The authority to teach in Pennsylvania schools is a privilege bestowed on those of you who have completed an accredited teacher education program and who maintain a professional reputation at all times. This reputation is defined in the Code of Conduct for educators. Professional educators in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania believe that the quality of their services directly influences the nation and its citizens. Professional educators recognize that their primary responsibility is to the student and the development of the student’s potential. Central to that development is valuing the worth and dignity of every person, student and colleague alike, with a devotion to excellence; development of knowledge; and democratic principles. To these ends, you will engage in continual inquiry to best serve the interests and needs of students. Professional practices are behaviors and attitudes that are based on a set of values that the professional education community believes and accepts. These values are evidenced in your conduct toward students, colleagues, mentor teacher, university supervisor, and others in the education community. 

As you become a professional educator, you will be expected to abide by this code. Pennsylvania’s Code of Professional Practice and Conduct for Educators can be found at 22 Pa. Code §§ 235.1 - 235.11. Violation of the Code may constitute basis for reprimand and/or removal from the student teaching practicum. 

7.3. Guest-Host Relationship

Acceptance of an invitation to teach within a particular school creates what CIFE calls a guest-host relationship. It is important to note that a “host” school district and classroom teacher accept a student teacher as a “guest” who is learning to teach. Your acceptance of this placement is predicated on the following understandings about the Guest/Host relationship: 

  • That you are expected to act in a professional manner at all times;
  • That you will abide by the regulations, procedures, instructional practices, by living up to the professional and personal expectations of the particular district to which you have been assigned; and
  • That, if personal or professional behavior or ability to work as an effective prospective teacher in the learning environment is not compatible with the expectations of the school district, you may be asked to leave by either the University or the host school district.

In addition, the guest-host relationship requires proof of the following documents that protect your welfare as well as that of members of the school community:

  • Act 114: FBI Clearance
  • Guest-Host Relationship Form
  • Act 34 Criminal History Clearance
  • Act 151 Child Abuse History Clearance
  • Act 24/82 Arrest/Conviction Report and Certification Form
  • Completion of Mandated Reported Training
  • Tuberculosis Test Report
  • Professional Liability Insurance

Note: Information about these forms and clearances is available online at:

7.4. School/Community Norms

You are accountable for a standard of care regarding the welfare of your students. The expected standard of care for teachers of school-age children is influenced by several factors including student age, compulsory attendance and the power differential between teacher and student. For example, what might be considered appropriate or acceptable for the professor in a university classroom might not be appropriate for the teacher in a K-12 classroom.

Considering the following questions will be helpful in reaching a wise conclusion about your reasonable course of action when it is necessary for you to make a decision about the welfare of a student:

  • Who should be made aware of the situation?
  • Who should be consulted for advice?
  • Who has the authority to act in response to the situation?
  • Who is ultimately responsible for the outcome?

7.5. Academic Integrity

Penn State students are expected to act with civility and personal integrity; respect all others’ dignity, rights and property; and help create and maintain an environment in which all can succeed through their own efforts. Penn State believes that an environment of academic integrity is requisite to respect for self and others and a civil community. This perspective on academic integrity also applies to the student teaching semester. 

Academic integrity includes a commitment to personally avoid acts of falsification, misrepresentation, or deception. Such acts of dishonesty may include cheating or copying, plagiarizing, submitting another person’s work as one’s own, using internet sources without citation, fabricating field data or citations, “ghosting” (having another person complete work or assignments), tampering with the work of another student, facilitating other students’ acts of academic dishonesty, etc. 

Penn State students suspected of a breach of academic integrity will receive due process and, if the suspicion is found to be true, academic sanctions may result. Depending on the severity of the breach, these sanctions may range from a grade of “F” or no credit for the assignment to a grade of “F for the course—or even expulsion from the University. 

7.6. Presentation of Self

Presentation of self, including physical appearance, helps establish a reputation and authority among students and colleagues. Creating and maintaining a professional demeanor should be a full-time goal while engaged with everyone associated with the school. 

Physical appearance is a concern for you and the school when it distracts from student learning. (Concerns most frequently involve hairstyles, jewelry, tattoos, and piercings. Immodesty in clothing choices, casualness, personal grooming, and attention to personal hygiene also could be causes of concern.) When in doubt about what your school or university finds appropriate, you should check with the mentor teacher or the university supervisor before wearing or doing something you might later regret. Schools vary widely in their expectation of what constitutes appropriate attire and grooming and will often enforce their individual codes. 

7.7. Field Site Attendance and Participation Obligations

7.7.1. The student teacher's first required day of attendance is the first day of the Penn State semester, unless otherwise noted by their supervisor. 

7.7.2. The student teacher’s final day of attendance is the last regularly scheduled class day for on-campus students. 

Notable possible exceptions to “1” and “2” above: 

a. Beginning date: Your supervisor may highly recommend—but not require—that you take part in school in-service events prior to the above beginning date. We strongly encourage you to take advantage of these professional opportunities if presented.

b. Ending date: If your host school district begins after the Penn State semester, it may be necessary for you to continue your practicum during finals week. 

c. Unanticipated school closures: If unanticipated school closures due to events such as inclement weather or broken furnaces occur, you are not required to attend or to make up those days unless such events reduce your number of days to less than 15 weeks. If so, those days will be added during finals week.

*We believe that student safety comes first and students are asked to use their professional judgement when it comes to traveling in inclement weather.

d. Emergency situations: A request to be away from school for personal illness and/or family emergencies may be granted with provided documentation. However, those days must be made up at a later time.

e. Career Day: A student teacher is permitted to attend one university sanctioned Career Day without a subsequent make-up day.

When you must be absent from school, you must:

1. Phone the mentor teacher as soon as an absence is imminent.

2. Notify the university supervisor as well as any additional personnel specified by the mentor teacher, university supervisor, or building principal as soon as possible.

7.7.3. Absence of your weekly seminar and ASTN sessions is also expected.

a. An absence may be excused for a personal illness or a death in your immediate family only. The university supervisor should be notified in advance of any absence. If you should need to miss a seminar, you will be given a make-up assignment to complete in lieu of your absence.

b. Unexcused absences or tardiness in school placement and/or weekly seminar will negatively affect your evaluation, particularly in the area of “Fulfilling Professional Responsibilities.”  Excessive absences and/or tardiness will result in termination of the student teaching experience. If an extenuating circumstance should occur that would impact attendance, the university supervisor should be contacted immediately. The university supervisor will consult with the mentor teacher, building principal, and the CIFE director at University Park, about ramifications. 

7.7.4. Substitute Teaching, Coaching, etc.

Penn State does not permit student teachers to serve as a paid substitute-teacher during your regularly scheduled days in school. You are permitted and encouraged to teach and assume leadership for a classroom when the mentor teacher is absent, as long as the school district has provided a paid employee as a “teacher-in-charge.” 

You are encouraged to participate in coaching and extracurricular activities to the extent that these duties do not interfere with the primary student teaching responsibilities and expectations. At no time during the official student teaching experience may you receive payment from the school for such duties. 

7.8. Teacher – Student Interaction

7.8.1. Confidential and Privileged Information

At your field site, you will most likely be exposed to various sources of confidential and privileged information, including student records, school and classroom problems, and faculty and parent-teacher meetings. Public disclosure of confidential information is a violation of human dignity and rights. In most circumstances, it is considered a breach of professional ethics. 

You should seek out the school’s video and audio-taping regulations and procedures that pertain to the handling of confidential information. For example, parents and students have legal rights that help regulate the type and amount of testing and interviewing in which students may participate. Students identified with special needs, too, have specific legal rights. It is extremely important that all privileged information be treated with honor and respect. Consult your mentor teacher if questions arise. 

7.8.2. Corporal Punishment

Penn State student teachers may not administer, nor participate in, the administration of corporal punishment at any time. Not only is it against Penn State’s philosophy and regulations, corporal punishment is illegal in Pennsylvania schools. 

7.8.3. Suspected Child Abus

As a mandated reporter, you’re required training provided you with guidelines for action if you suspect a student may be the victim of neglect or abuse. Report your concerns to your mentor teacher and let your supervisor know of your concern. Do not feel that you have to respond to these problems by yourself. However, if you suspect that a report to ChildLine is necessary, and the leadership of your school has not contacted ChildLine, you are obligated to do so on your own. The ChildLine number to call is 1-800-932-0313. 

7.8.4. Private Interactions

Penn State student teachers should always meet with students in a visible, public locationeven for one-on-one tutoring, conferencing, or interviewing. Special care must be taken to ensure that the mentor teacher is aware of all of your interactions with students. You may not transport students in your own vehicle. Any visit to a student’s home must include your mentor teacher. Likewise, you should not meet with parents or students at non-school locations without your mentor teacher being present. 

7.9. Grading

As the instructor of record, the ultimate responsibility for your grade for the practicum rests with the university supervisor. Student teaching is graded on a letter basis (e.g., A, A-, etc.), not PASS/FAIL. The submission of the full range of grades, including pluses and minuses, is available to the university supervisor. The final grade is based on the supervisor’s overall assessment of your performance in the classroom and on other tasks, assignments, and expectations associated with the student teaching practicum and seminar. 

The university supervisor often consults with the mentor teacher concerning your performance and may seek input on performance from you and other relevant school or university personnel in order to make an informed decision about the final grade. Final grades less than “C” are considered unsatisfactory, and requires that you repeat the student teaching semester in its entirety in order to be eligible for initial teacher certification. 

7.10. Internet Personalities and Professionalism

Privacy and free speech rights permit you to maintain and submit information on the Internet, including postings on, and other social websites. However, you must consider how the information you post may be interpreted and used by colleagues, parents, administrators and students. When you decide to post personal and private information on the web, you run the risk that the information will be widely viewed, and that your exposure may not be to your benefit. Any school district that learns of publicly available postings that put into question the character of those working alongside the students of their district may refuse a placement, or continued placement in that school. 

Please consider:

  • Administrators, parents, and mentors browse postings on sites such as Facebook or Twitter, forming impressions and judging the moral character of pre-service and practicing teachers.
  • You cannot completely control how others judge you, fairly or unfairly, but you can control the information from which others make judgments.
  • Students look to their teachers to model appropriate behaviors and choices. Students may not be able to distinguish between adult choices and appropriate behaviors for children. Further, behaviors and choices that may seem appropriate in private contexts may be inappropriate in public and professional situations.

 Professional Guidelines:

  • Maintain separate sites for professional and personal use.
  • Do not share your username or personal web-addresses with students.
  • If you do have personal web-space, such as Facebook or Twitter, arrange for it to be password protected and readable only by friends or chosen members.
  • Do not permit anyone to post on your site without your approval.
  • If you know that a student has accessed your personal site, make it clear to the student that this is an inappropriate way to communicate with you.

Voicemail messages.

Please be sure that your messages are professional. Remember that voicemail messages may be your first introduction to your supervisor, mentor teacher or a potential employer.