Being a teacher often means taking on different responsibilities, both inside and outside of the classroom, all at once. Temple University's College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) strives to equip students with the level of career readiness they need to become educators who thrive in any setting.
"It's surprising exactly how much it takes to be a teacher. From managing the daily schedule to lesson planning, grading to engaging with families, and so much more," said Dr. Amy Scallon, associate director of clinical practice for middle grades and secondary education. "Our role in the Office of Field Placement is to support and set up our undergraduate and graduate students for success by preparing them with real-world practices."
Student teachers at Temple complete their field placement as part of their required coursework. The length of the student teaching placement may vary from one semester to a year depending on the student's major and academic level. The immediate goal is to ensure that students participate in a coherent sequence of varied experiences that will support their career preparation. Looking at the bigger picture, we hope to do our part in improving the teacher talent pipeline locally, within the School District of Philadelphia, and nationally.
"The faculty and the people who manage the field experiences work collectively to make sure we're on the same page, and that experiences complement one another," Scallon said. "Thinking about what our students are learning in classes and what they're experiencing in earlier field placements, and then in student teaching. We are working both in earlier field placements and in student teaching to really make sure that those field experiences that our student teachers are having are high quality."
Saman Zaman, a graduating senior majoring in early childhood education with a concentration in special education, shares that the field experience she has been through at Temple has transformed her understanding of the classroom dynamic.
"The theoretical concepts we learned in our courses have been easily applied to what we see in the classroom," Zaman said. "I think through my year-long time as a student teacher, I have had a chance to familiarize myself with the classroom structure and I feel it has prepared me more for my own classroom in the future."
Like Zaman, a lot of Temple student teachers say their field experiences are the highlight of their academic careers. Many student teachers finish their teaching and can't wait to take on their first job. Some even get offered full-time teaching contracts where they student taught.
Ardath Weiss, associate director of clinical practice in early childhood education, believes that CEHD's long-term partners, especially the School District of Philadelphia, play a crucial role in the success of our student teachers. "Temple's field placement model engages a variety of stakeholders — students, teachers, university coaches, school and district leaders, mentors," Weiss said. "We have heard a lot of great feedback from school leaders over the years."
Shawmont School's principal Robert McGrogan expresses his excitement about working with Temple student teachers. "Each year I reflect on the periods that we have student teachers and I feel Temple is doing a better job in preparing candidates for the workforce," he said. "I am an '89 Temple graduate and know that I didn't feel comfortable until the second semester of the school year when I had some command over the content. Your students have an entire year to draw from when they enter the classroom next September."
Similarly, Timothy Glynn, principal of J. Hampton Moore Elementary School, praises Temple's approach to student teaching. "It's a game changer!" Glynn shared with Temple administrators. "We will be offering jobs to a few [Temple student teachers] once again! I cannot express how important and effective the year-long program is for everyone involved!"
As years pass, Temple's field placement program has been a well-rounded and rewarding experience for many. In February 2021, Francesca Cantarini, a teacher at CW Henry Middle School, took on her role as a mentor for the first time. Hafsa Jones-Rothwell, EDU '22, was to be Cantarini's first mentee. Cantarini referred to the opportunity to serve as a mentor to be a life-changing decision for herself.
"Hafsa revitalized my passion in teaching — not only as a classroom teacher but also as a mentor teacher," Cantarini shared. "I became like a grandmother in the classroom, watching my child raise their kids. It gave me a whole other perspective on my own teaching practices, and it made it a whole community for everyone."
Cantarini exclaimed that she is ready to receive Temple students as a mentor teacher forever!
Such strong mentorship is meant to last a lifetime. Jones-Rothwell recalls, "Everything I was afraid of teaching, [Ms. Cantarini] showed me how to do it. She has great routines and excellent classroom management. From my tone to where to stand in the room, she made sure I learned all these small things. She reminded me that student teaching is the time to try new things — if it doesn't work, she's there to back me up."
Jones-Rothwell expresses great gratitude for her time at CW Henry School and to her mentor teacher. To future students, she says:
"When you wonder if it's all worth it, I say 'you'll know right away.' The joy the kids bring you is enough to keep you coming back every day. Teaching is not an easy job — there's a lot behind the scenes. But, if you change one person's day, it's worth it."
Visit the Office of Field Placement and Professional Experiences in the College of Education and Human Development for more information on field experience, practicum and student teaching placements.