What is a “clinical experience?”
“The core experience in teacher preparation is clinical practice. Content and pedagogy are woven around clinical experiences throughout preparation, in course work, in laboratory-based experiences, and in school-embedded practice” (NCATE, 2010, p. 5). At the University of Mary Washington, College of Education students engage in laboratory based experiences such as the Autism Play Lab, practicum experiences in schools and educational organizations that partner with regional schools, and internships in Virginia public elementary, middle and high schools. According to the Virginia Department of Education (2006),such field experiences “require intense supervision from the K-12 school faculty and monitoring from the professional education faculty” (p. 9).
Due to the requirement that clinical experiences require supervision and mentorship as an integral component, many professional experiences that strengthen resumes do not satisfy the clinical requirement. Such experiences that do not meet the clinical requirements include: substitute teaching, tutoring, or any other work in settings with children that do not place the education candidate in a learning context with a mentor teacher arranged by the Associate Dean of Clinical Experiences and Partnerships.
Why do I need to complete and renew a criminal history background screening and a TB screening prior to beginning a clinical experience?
Those of us who make a career of working to support children know the importance of protecting their physical and emotional safety. While we trust that our teacher candidates are well-intentioned individuals, we must guarantee to the school divisions and families who entrust their children to us that their students are safe. We would not ask any less of individuals to whom members of our community entrust their children.
Why do I need to submit proof of professional liability insurance prior to beginning a clinical experience?
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! We want to ensure you are protected in the event of legal action during your practicum and internship experiences. Members of the CoE Advisory Board, most of whom are current or retired educators, think this is one of the most supportive requirements we can make of our candidates. Professional employees of the school divisions are provided this insurance coverage.
Professional liability insurance is specialty coverage that provides legal protection in the event that legal action is brought against you while you complete clinical experience (practicum or internship) requirements. You can acquire professional liability insurance through your student membership in the Virginia Education Association, or through a rider you purchase on either homeowner or renter insurance policies.
Can I identify my own placement?
CoE students may not identify their own placements. Practicum/Internship placements are an integral component of the educator preparation programs at UMW. They link the academic and professional preparation components of our curriculum. Just as with courses and course sequences the Practicum/Internship must be systematically structured. College faculty and administrators therefore collaborate with area School Division professional personnel in establishing and monitoring this component of the professional preparation program. Practica/Internships placements and procedures are guided by institutional policies and procedures at the School Division level. It is critically important that you work closely with your CoE academic advisor in putting together your course schedule each semester; your advisor can assist you in aligning class schedules and practica schedules. They can also assist you in working out scheduling challenges that might require the intervention of the department chair and the director of clinical experiences.
Can I speak with school personnel and make recommendations regarding with what teachers I might best work?
In the interest of fairness, quality, placement appropriateness to program requirements, and professional courtesy all placement coordination and communication must be between the UMW CoE Associate Dean of Clinical Experiences and Partnerships and the School Division identified liaison. CoE students may not speak with school personnel regarding clinical experience placements.
What should I do if I want to take a class but none of the practicum times fit into my schedule?
If this is a real scheduling conflict and not simply a case of preferring to schedule practicum at a different time, speak with your advisor who will try to help you plan your schedule. If you and your advisor cannot resolve the conflict, please contact the Associate Dean of Clinical Experiences and Partnerships, Shalyn M. Lapke, Ph.D., via email firstname.lastname@example.org who will work directly with the relevant department chair to find a solution.
Why can’t I determine my own schedule with my mentor teacher to fulfill practicum requirements?
The core answer to this question can be found above under the question “Can I identify my own placement?” Practicum placements are integral to the academic/professional curriculum of the education program. As collaborating professionals we recognize and respect the purview of our school administrator colleagues. They are responsible and liable for the safety of individuals in their buildings and we work with them on schedules to ensure that our presence is a complement to their policies and procedures for knowing who is in their buildings and on what schedules.
We want to be as courteous as possible to the school’s routines by providing a consistent schedule to administrators and mentor teachers who agree to mentor a teacher candidate. If you face a schedule conflict, please first meet with your CoE faculty advisor to problem-solve. If you and your advisor cannot find a solution to the schedule conflict, please contact the Associate Dean of Clinical Experiences and Partnerships via email email@example.com who works directly with the relevant department chairs to create solutions.
It would be more convenient to work in my child’s school in order to manage child care arrangements. Can I request that?
As an integral component of the professional preparation program it is critically important that you are viewed in your Practicum/Internship as an emerging professional. We believe it is important to protect you in that singular role during your preparation program; and we want you to have the broadest possible latitude as a parent, guardian, spouse or interested party in schools where you have family members also situated. In order to accomplish both of these goals we strictly prohibit Practica/Intern Placements in settings where the two might be compromised. While we certainly understand the juggling act necessitated by balancing family, work, and school, we will not place you in a school where your family, significant other, or close friend works or attends. This protects you from potential conflicts of interest that may arise in the complex context of a school building.
I am a provisionally licensed teacher. Do I need a practicum placement?
You may complete your practicum assignments in your place of employment as long as you are working towards an endorsement in the area you teach. For example, if you are taking courses towards an endorsement in English, 6-12 and teach English at a middle or high school, you do not need a separate placement.
I am a provisionally licensed teacher. Do I need to complete a teaching internship (formerly known as student teaching)?
If you hold a provisional license, then your school division has taken on the responsibility of moving forward your professional licensure and you do not need to complete the internship component of the UMW CoE education curriculum. Under this circumstance the university will not be recommending you to the Virginia Department of Education for licensure.
I am a para-professional in a classroom. Do I need a practicum placement?
Similar to provisionally licensed teachers, you may complete your practicum assignments in your place of employment so long as you work in a classroom in your endorsement area. For example, if you work in a general education elementary classroom and seek an elementary education endorsement, then you may complete your assignments in this setting. If you work in a special education classroom and seek special education endorsement, you may complete your assignments in this setting. If you do not work in your licensure area, we can work with your building administration to place you in another classroom in your place of employment for a contained number of hours to complete your practicum assignments. In all such cases the arrangements need the approval of the UMW-CoE Associate Dean of Clinical Experiences.
I am a para-professional in a classroom. Do I need to complete a teaching internship?
Yes, you will need to complete a full-time, 14-week internship to meet the Virginia Department of Education licensure requirements and UMW-CoE program requirements. The UMW-CoE Associate Dean of Clinical Experiences will work with you on establishing this placement. You should follow all of the guidance related to internship that is provided on the CoE Clinical Experiences website.