Student Teaching

Students majoring in Early Childhood Education, Special Education, Elementary Education, Middle Level Teaching and Learning or Physical Education spend time learning in college classrooms and then transition from observing to applying that knowledge in real schools and community agencies. The culminating event is student teaching, which is a full-time, supervised instructional experience.

Student Teacher Role and Expectations

Student teachers are associate members of the school faculty and are expected to move into an increasingly proficient role in the classroom – capitalizing on opportunities for collegial support and development. They are expected to perform in a professional manner and devote time and energy to planning the instruction they provide. Student teachers are expected to work collaboratively with their mentor teachers and to make a positive impact on faculty and students by demonstrating the qualities of an educational professional. 

Background check: Student teachers must actively inquire about and complete the background check(s) required by the school districts in which they are placed. 

Dress: Student teachers are expected to meet standards of dress appropriate to the profession.

Student teacher email communication: Student teachers will check their NIU email accounts daily and will use their NIU email for all official communications with their mentor teachers and supervisors.

Schedule: Student teachers follow the academic calendar of their host districts, including all in-service and professional development days. Experience hours will need to be tracked weekly.

School policies: Student teachers must be aware of, and follow, all polices established for both instructional (e.g., behavior management plans, class routines, daily schedule) as well as non-instructional practices (e.g., drills, lunch counts, bus duty, medication, medical emergencies).

Professional educator dispositions: Student teachers will demonstrate proficiency in NIU’s six common professional educator dispositions: caring; collaboration; lifelong learning and scholarship; diversity; creativity and critical thinking; and professionalism. These dispositions will be evaluated by the student teacher, mentor teacher and supervisor at the end of the student teaching experience.

Lesson plans: Student teachers are required to prepare and submit fully detailed daily lesson plans to the cooperating teachers and university supervisors in advance of teaching.

Delivery of instruction: Student teachers will progress in their teaching responsibilities throughout their experience including observation, co-teaching and independent instruction.

Reflective practice: Student teachers are required to engage in reflective activities related to their experiences in the classrooms.

Note: Please refer to your course syllabus for additional program-specific expectations.

Mentor Teacher Role and Expectations

The mentor teacher plays a critical role as the student teachers’ model and mentor. It is highly recommended that you engage your student teachers in as many conversations about practice and instruction as possible. Please encourage them to ask questions, to think independently and to share with you what they have observed about your classroom and practice. 

The role of the mentor teacher is crucial for monitoring the student teachers’ progress. Over time, an increase in instructional and classroom responsibilities should be shared with your student teacher. You will mentor, collaborate and communicate with the team (i.e., the student teacher and university supervisor) regarding the performance and progress. 

School policies: Mentor teachers should provide information regarding all policies established for both instructional (e.g., behavior management plans, class routines, daily schedule) as well as non-instructional practices (e.g., drills, lunch counts, bus duty, medication, medical emergencies).

Delivery of instruction: Mentor teachers outline engagement plans for student teachers to scaffold their teaching responsibilities throughout their experience to include observation, co-teaching and independent instruction.

Supervisor observations: The mentor teacher will allow university supervisors to observe the student teacher’s delivery of instruction and engagement in the classroom. Modality can be in-person, virtual or hybrid.

Feedback: The mentor teacher is expected to provide feedback to the student teacher on all aspects of teaching, from lesson planning and unit planning to instructional styles and strategies, and from management and delivery of content to aligned assessment of lesson objectives.

Final evaluation: The mentor teacher will submit a final written evaluation of the student teacher’s performance to the NIU Office of Educator Licensure and Preparation.

Dispositions assessment: The mentor teacher will complete a dispositions survey evaluating the student teacher’s dispositions for teaching at the end of each experience. The survey is managed by the NIU Office of Educator Licensure and Preparation. 

University Supervisor Role and Expectations

NIU supervisors serve as the primary contact between NIU, student teachers, mentor teachers and schools. In this role, you act as an advocate for the student teachers and as a support for the mentor teachers. 

The role of the supervisor is multiple and complex, requiring an ongoing commitment to maintaining a strong knowledge of curriculum; familiarity with current educational trends and literature; and effective interpersonal and collaborative skills. 

Mentor teacher communication: The supervisor will establish a relationship with the mentor teacher, provide program information and maintain regular contact throughout the student teacher’s placement.

Visit schedule: The supervisor will plan a tentative schedule of visits early in the semester. The schedule is developed after conferring with the student teacher and the cooperating teacher. 

Feedback: The supervisor is expected to provide feedback to the student teacher on all aspects of teaching, from lesson planning and unit planning to instructional styles and strategies, and from management and delivery of content to aligned assessment of lesson objectives.

Final evaluation: The supervisor will submit a final written evaluation of the student teacher’s performance to the NIU Office of Educator Licensure and Preparation. 

Dispositions assessment: The supervisor will complete a dispositions survey evaluating the student teacher’s dispositions for teaching at the end of each experience. The survey is managed by the NIU Office of Educator Licensure and Preparation. 

Policies and Resources

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities 

Students with disabilities are encouraged to contact the Disability Resource Center (DRC) early in their NIU experience. The DRC works with students and faculty to make curricular and campus experiences accessible and helps determine reasonable and appropriate accommodations for courses, programs and activities. Through an interactive process with the student and an access consultant, the following will be determined:

  • Required documentation of disability
  • Appropriate accommodations.

After students register with the DRC, they may contact faculty and share the letter of accommodation (LOA), which endorses approved accommodations. The DRC staff can provide guidance to faculty, when needed, about how to implement accommodations. Students who make requests for accommodations must follow DRC policies and procedures, in addition to university policies and procedures.

Academic Integrity 

Good academic work must be based on honesty. The attempt of any student to present as his or her own work that which he or she has not produced is regarded by the faculty and administration as a serious offense. Students are considered to have cheated if they copy the work of another during an examination or turn in a paper or an assignment written, in whole or in part, by someone else. Students are responsible for plagiarism, intentional or not, if they copy material from books, magazines, or other sources without identifying and acknowledging those sources or if they paraphrase ideas from such sources without acknowledging them. Students responsible for, or assisting others in, either cheating or plagiarism on an assignment, quiz, or examination may receive a grade of F for the course involved and may be suspended or dismissed from the university.

A faculty member has original jurisdiction over any instances of academic misconduct that occur in a course that the faculty member is teaching. The student shall be given the opportunity to resolve the matter in meetings with the faculty member and the department chair. If the facts of the incident are not disputed by the student, the faculty member may elect to resolve the matter at that level by levying a sanction no greater than an F for that course. The faculty member shall notify the student in writing whenever such action is taken, and Student Conduct shall receive a copy of the Academic Misconduct Incident Report indicating the final disposition of the case, which will be placed in the conduct file of the student. In all matters where the charge of academic misconduct is disputed by the student or if the faculty member feels a sanction greater than an F in the course is appropriate (such as repeated offenses or flagrant violations), the faculty member shall refer the matter to Student Conduct making use of the Academic Misconduct Incident Report. 

Additional sanctions greater than an F in a course can be levied only through the university system. With regards to finding the student either responsible or not responsible for his or her action, the ruling of the Hearing Board shall be binding. In cases where there is either a finding of responsibility or an admission of responsibility by the student, any recommendations by the hearing board regarding the course grade are non-binding on the instructor, who remains solely responsible for assigning a course grade, consistent with the policies set forth in the course syllabus.

Social Justice Education  

The NIU Office of Social Justice Education has developed a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Educators Toolkit. Please review and consider accessing the many resources to improve your preparation to teach for social justice.

Teacher Strikes 

If there is a teacher strike during a student teaching experience:

  • Student teachers do not report to their placement for the duration of the strike.
  • Student teachers should not engage in any actions that would tend to support or oppose a strike.
  • Student teachers should not attempt to cross picket lines.
  • For extended strike situations, a determination will be made whether a reassignment of the student teacher to another school district will be necessary.

Additional policies and procedures can be found in the 'academic regulations' section of our Undergraduate Catalog.