Special Education Field Experience

Beginning Field Experience (BFE)

The teacher candidate is placed in a special education classroom. Over the course of approximately 12 weeks, the teacher candidate experiences a consistent classroom community and is better able to discern if education is the right career path. Teacher candidates’ experiences can include working with small groups or individual students, assessing student work, and supporting the classroom environment. This experience includes weekly guided reflection and small group discussion.

School-based Practicum

Teacher candidates enroll in a one credit hour practicum each semester (one credit = 30 hours in the field). Academic advisors help candidates select practicum settings that will broaden their teacher preparation experiences. Practica assist teacher candidates’ discernment of their professional teaching goals and provides them with multiple networking opportunities.

Methods Internship I

The teacher candidate spends approximately 12 weeks in a general education elementary classroom setting while completing corresponding content methods courses. The University faculty model current research-based best teaching practices in their instruction and the candidates apply these practices in the field. Consistent and thoughtful supervision is the hallmark of the experience as the University supervisor and cooperating teacher work together to mentor the teacher candidate through many teaching firsts such as lesson planning and implementation, assessment and unit design, classroom management strategies, professional collaboration and reflection.

Year-long Internships*

Teacher candidates participate in individual meetings to confirm personal placement preferences for Year-long Internships.

Internship I: The teacher candidate spends approximately 12 weeks with a mentor special education teacher while completing corresponding special education methods courses. Having completed general content methods courses, the candidates are able to focus on the more specific learning needs of special education students. The candidates receive the same level of consistent and thoughtful supervision throughout this field experience. The cooperating teacher and supervisor work together to mentor the teacher candidate as the plan for student learning, implement instruction, assess student outcomes and develop experience with Individual Education Plans (IEPs) and 504 plans for students.

Internship II**: The teacher candidate, with a cooperating teacher’s mentoring, teaches the full professional day in a special education setting for an entire semester. With careful supervision, expectations are developed each week to culminate in the candidates taking full responsibility as a classroom teacher. This experience includes lesson and unit planning and implementation, student learning assessment, classroom management, and professional collaboration with faculty and staff, school families, and the community. Teacher candidates hone their skills and expertise as the university supervisor and cooperating teacher provide ongoing feedback and concrete suggestions for improvement.

*Teacher Candidates may elect to complete their Year-long Internship is the same classroom to experience the complete school year including classroom set-up, establishing classroom community, and planning for, impacting and assessing student learning over time. Candidates who complete year-long internships in the same classroom have more opportunities to build relationships with students, families, and the school community as well as support student learning consistently.

**Teacher candidates may choose to graduate with a subsequent elementary endorsement in which case, Internship II consists of 8 weeks of a full time field experience in a special education setting and 8 weeks of full time field experience in an elementary setting.
Teacher candidates in Special Education may also pursue endorsements in English as a Second Language or Bilingual Education.