Placement Dates & Online Classes

Some of you may have noticed that your physical start date at your placement school and your online class cohort dates are different. This is not cause for alarm. GCU attempts to match these dates as closely as possible, but due to varying school calendars they often do not align exactly.

Your required student teaching days begin the day you start at your placement school. If you are fortunate to begin during prep week at the start of the year, and working with your Cooperating teacher, this time counts. Your four (4) official evaluations will take place on a suggested schedule that work within the actual time frame you are student teaching. They will be uploaded and submitted within the time frame of your online class so the scores can be included in your online class grade.

Due to school schedules, it’s possible your student teaching days at your placement school may extend longer than your online class dates. This is alright. This should not delay completion of your online class, or your official graduation if you are graduating during the term. Your final Time Log will be submitted when you have completed your required days.

Factors that influence when you start at your school include the district’s or school site’s preference, your availability or your Cooperating or Mentor Teacher’s preference. As soon as you have contact information for your Cooperating or Mentor teacher, please touch base and discuss your start date with them. You can also contact GCU College of Education (COE) if you have any concerns.


A note on Evals and Feedback

I encourage you to open and review the comments and attachments that are posted with your Evaluation (you should receive an email alert when it is posted). You will find supporting documentation, and I may include Scripted Notes as a reflection tool for you. They are a ‘snapshot’ of 20-30 minutes during your observation. I may also include feedback comments embedded in your lesson plan (click on the text bubbles).

Site Visit #2

In preparation for your upcoming site visit evaluation, please review criteria on the Site Visit #2 Evaluation. Please send me your 1) Self-Reflection and 2) Lesson Plans, 48 hours before the visit, and plan to have your class/students covered for 45 minutes following the observation so we can review together. I’ll review/collect your Clinical Practice Time log. Please note the Log Key when filling out. Return the Post-Observation Reflection to me by requested date.

Please alert your students of my visit so they are prepared for a classroom visitor.

A sample Lesson Plan template is attached, or you may use one of the samples listed in the Student Teaching Manual appendix, or whatever format your Cooperating teacher uses as long as the same essential information is identified.

Also, please communicate with your Cooperating/Mentor Teacher and make sure they have a copy of the appropriate site visit evaluation form. Find attachments here.

I’m looking forward to seeing you in action! Please find additional GCU COE forms located here and here. Review observation What to Expect and Tips.

**Remember to check your calendar and plan for full time take-over of full day/all periods/teaching blocks.

*Single Placements: 5 weeks of 100% planning and teaching (with Cooperating teacher’s guidance).

*Dual Placements: 3 weeks of 100% planning and teaching in each placement (with Cooperating teacher’s guidance).

Evaluations: What to Expect

I know there is some stress and anxiety that accompanies a Site Visit Observation. To help you feel as comfortable as possible I urge you to review the site evaluation form prior to each visit, so you are familiar with the criteria that is being evaluated. Expectations are for your position as a Student Teacher, not a veteran teacher.

Site Visit #1: Review the Professional Dispositions and Evaluation Form #1 criteria, complete the Pre-Observation Self-Reflection form. *Send me your completed Self-Reflection 48 hrs. before visit.  

Site Visits #2, #3, #4: You will prepare a lesson plan and deliver it (see attachment for more details on what to expect). The academic content area is not as important as the preparation, planning, delivery, and reflection. Those are transferable skills that demonstrate teaching ability across content areas. *Send me your completed Self-Reflection, and Lesson Plans 48 hrs. before visit.

**Site Visit #4 will also include the Professional Dispositions evaluated in #1 and the Content Standards for your Education Program. Please communicate this to your Cooperating Teacher so they complete the appropriate Content Standards section. Additionally, please review and complete a Self-Assessment on the Site Visit #4 Evaluation form. *Send me your completed Eval #4 self-assessment, Self-Reflection, and Lesson Plans 48 hrs. before visit.

My objective at the observation is to look for good work to build on; my goal is to support you in honing your teaching craft and reflecting on future growth. During our post-observation review, I will be sharing with you the positive aspects of your lesson, and areas of improvement that I observe. The purpose of my feedback is to let you know your strengths and skills you are performing well, and what areas have room for growth. I encourage you to approach your observation with a positive mindset, and be open and receptive to hearing critical critique, in the context of professional growth and development.

Finally, I will be sending you a post-observation Reflection to complete and send back to me as part of the evaluation process.

Let me know if you have any questions or concerns not addressed. Please remember that my role is to support you in becoming the best teacher you can be! Find attachments here.

“Every teacher needs to improve. Not because they are not good enough, but because they can be even better.”  ~ Dylan Wiliam

A note on Self-Reflections

The Pre-observation Self-Reflections you will complete and send me before and after each site visit informs me on areas you may need particular support, areas of strength, and gives me a more complete picture of progress and demonstrates competence in reflective teaching. This is also a practice of high quality teachers, and will be required in your BTSA program to clear your credential. Self-reflection can feel uncomfortable, but is a valuable exercise in growth and development, and will help you become a better teacher.

**This informs the Reflection component of your evaluation and contributes to Professionalism criteria.**

A visitor is coming!

Please inform your students that a visitor will be coming (me), and give them a brief explanation of the reason. If they are aware of a class visitor hopefully disruption will be minimal. Also, they will not be nervous that they are being watched if you explain that I am there to watch you :-). Finally, when they are included in the loop of classroom happenings they can feel that they have some ownership of the class community, it is not just the teacher’s classroom.

Site Visit #1

In preparation for your first site visit evaluation, please review Site Visit #1 Evaluation (15wk / 16wk) criteria so you know what to expect. I will plan to observe for about an hour teaching block, or one academic class period. You do not need to prepare and deliver a formal lesson plan the first visit, but I need to observe you working and interacting with students. Please send me your completed Self-Reflection 48 hours before the visit and plan for the following:

  1. Schedule to have your class/students covered for up to 45 minutes following the visit so we can review the observation together.
  2. We will review your completed Self-Reflection in our post-observation conference.
  3. We’ll discuss your planning and reflection sessions with your Cooperating teacher. *You should be meeting regularly with your Cooperating teacher for planning and feedback (2-3x weekly).
  4. Please review What to Expect and Tips.
  5. *Optional: take the Free CVI (green button, should not take more than 5 min.) and review your results. This is a motivation assessment index, and is useful to better understand what drivers inform how you operate in a professional capacity.

Also, please communicate with your Cooperating/Mentor Teacher and make sure they have a copy of the appropriate site visit evaluation form. Find Professional Dispositions and video resource. Please find additional GCU COE forms located here and here.

*Video recording: I do not video record observations unless requested, but I encourage you to use that as a personal reflection tool at some point during your student teaching. It is really helpful to see things that you cannot really be aware of when you are actively teaching, but are able to notice on a video. There is a release form in the Student Teaching manual appendix or on the GCU COE website.

*FYI, all site visit evaluations are scheduled. I will not be dropping in unannounced.  🙂

Great teachers have high expectations, clear objectives, are prepared and organized, engage students, form strong relationships, are masters of their subjects, and communicate often with parents.         –  Richard Leblanc