Module 6: Systems of Communication and Professional Behaviors

Module 6 Progress

Essential Questions

  1. What shared language or definitions are critical to understand before mentoring a pre-service teacher (PST)?
  2. How do these definitions and ideas shape the mentor/mentee relationship in an early field experience?

Systems of Communication and Professional Behaviors

“To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.”

–   Anthony Robbins

Effective communication is the key to a healthy relationship. In the context of an early field experience, effective communication can make the difference between an experience that benefits all stakeholders and a situation that ends in frustration for one or both parties. Sometimes as the result of an early field experience a PST is either inspired to pursue their dream to become an educator, or disillusioned by the experience to the point of choosing a different career path. While a PST may choose another professional path, we don’t want that decision to be the result of a misunderstanding or miscommunication between the mentor CT and the PST.

Professionalism involves the skills and dispositions modeled by an experienced mentor and developed by a PST entering the profession. Clear and respectful communication can help to facilitate the process by which skills, dispositions, and behaviors such as time management, appropriate attire, and interactions with students are learned. Early field experiences provide valuable opportunities for PSTs to grow in these areas.

Stakeholders in Early Field Experience Communication

The systems of communication that are involved with early field experiences include at least four participants/stakeholders:

  • Teacher licensure program contact(s)
    • Field Placement Coordinator (FPC)
    • Course Instructor
    • Field Experience Supervisor
  • P-12 school-based or central office-based administration
  • Mentor CT
  • PST

Effective communication among these stakeholders is critical to the overall success of this experience.

Initial Communication Process

Step 1: Placement Request

The Field Placement Coordinator usually contacts the designated P-12 school administrator to request early field experience placements along with some details about the experience (e.g. start/end dates, required number of hours and/or days and times, particular content and/or grade level preferred, and a few details about the types of experiences and/or assignments that the PST should be able to achieve in that setting).

Step 2: Placement Confirmation

The Principal, Assistant Principal, or central office contact receives the placement request and then contacts the teacher(s) in the building, who meet the required qualifications for being a Mentor CT, to check about their interest and availability to host a PST. Information about the field experience is shared with the Mentor CT who agrees to host a PST. The placement is then confirmed with the FPC.

Step 3: Initial Contact

After the placement is confirmed, the instructor, supervisor and/or the PST is expected to initiate communication with the mentor CT prior to the beginning of the placement. This is usually an email communication which includes an attached document that describes additional details about the placement, with particular attention to the projects, assignments, and experiences that are expected of the PST.

Upon receiving communication from the program contact or PST, the Mentor CT confirms that they are anticipating the start of the placement, asks  questions, and provides any details about where the PST should go upon arrival at the school.

Step 4: Creating an Open Channel of Communication

The Mentor CT and PST should feel like they have an open communication channel with the teacher education program throughout the experience. The level of communication and supervision will vary depending on the length and specific learning goals of the early field experience, but could include: observing the PST and giving feedback on a lesson; debriefing weekly experiences with the PST, in class and/or through written reflections; an occasional email to the mentor CT to “check in” and respond to any questions or concerns; and possibly a phone call or personal visit to the classroom on the rare occasion that there is a more significant concern that needs to be addressed. The program contact will provide any evaluation forms that may be required for the field experience.

Throughout the field experience, the Mentor CT communicates with the PST regarding specific expectations for their classroom, provides formative feedback pertaining to the active participation of the PST, and then completes some type of summative evaluation and/or survey provided by the IHE at the completion of the placement.

Note to Pre-Service Teachers

One way to develop and demonstrate professionalism is by learning to take initiative with communication. This begins by emailing your mentor CT prior to the beginning of the placement to provide a brief introduction of themselves and confirm the details of their first visit. Throughout the experience, provide the mentor CT with timely reminders of the tasks required for the course associated with the practicum and communicate in anticipation of any changes to the schedule (health-related or otherwise).