Module 5: Setting and Understanding Expectations

Module 5 Progress

Essential Question

What strategies help to effectively inform critical expectations during an early field experience?

Setting, communicating and understanding clear expectations is critical for a successful early field experience.

Different programs have different expectations during early field experiences, therefore it is critical for:

  • Both the PST and the Mentor CT to understand the program expectations from the college or university;
  • The Mentor CT to be clear in setting their expectations for the PST; and,
  • The PST to make sure they understand the expectations of the Mentor CT.

What strategies help to effectively inform expectations during an early field experience?

Direct communication is a critical component of developing clear expectations.

Communication should be transparent so that the PST is included in any communication occurring between the instructor or program supervisor and the Mentor CT (unless there is a problem).

It is important to understand the purpose of the early field experience which may include

  • Relating course content to real-life settings and situations to strengthen and deepen PST learning;
  • Giving PSTs the opportunity to explore the teaching profession before committing to a teaching career;
  • Developing a network of professional contacts while gaining experience to get ready for student teaching; and,
  • Helping education programs to evaluate PST performance, professionalism, and potential as a future teacher.

Mentor CTs can share their experience and expertise while learning new evidence-based strategies and novel technologies from their mentees.

Prior to the start of the placement

Specific information should be shared with the Mentor CT prior to the placement from the program.  This may be conveyed through a syllabus or other written material shared by the program supervisor, course instructor, or by the PST.

Information should include:

  • the purpose and goals of the field experience,
  • a time frame with specific days and time or overall hours,
  • an overview of what types of assignments must be completed by the PST during the experience, and
  • any timeline or schedule information needed to meet requirements.

The Mentor CT can request that a PST shares a biographical sketch of themselves prior to the placement, this might include:

  • why the PST decided to pursue teacher education,
  • previous experiences they have had working with children – both formally and informally, including what types of settings and students have they worked with, and
  • their learning goals for this experience.

The first meeting

An initial meeting with the PST and Mentor CT is best when it can take place in person. Occasionally school schedules make this impossible, so the same information can be shared through electronic communication, during a phone conversation, or through a virtual meeting platform.

In order to develop clear expectations, the initial meeting should focus on:

  • Aligning the PST’s learning goals with the early field experience goals and the Mentor CT’s instructional goals for their P-12 students;
  • Clarifying roles of the PST and the Mentor CT;
  • Systems of communication between PST and Mentor CT;
  • Discussing how feedback will be shared;
  • Developing a timeline for when required activities need to occur; and
  • The critical nature of student confidentiality.

Mentor CTs “need to see their [PST] learning goals and have a conversation with the PST and make sure the PST fully understands what the learning goals are. Then I would look at what my instructional goals for the time period are and see how we can match them up.” – K. Svarfvar, Mentor CT, Middle


“I tell them how my classroom runs and what type of activities I expect they (PSTs) will be helping with/leading. I also try to get feedback on what type of new things they want to try or don’t have as much experience in so that we can work on those things during the placement.” – H. Waller, Mentor CT, High School

Questions for Reflection

  1. What is it that you most want to know before meeting your Mentor CT or PST?
  2. What is your preferred modality for receiving that information?