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College of Education > News and Publications > News: Jan-March 2014 > Student-Teachers Supported by Network of Professionals

Student-Teachers Supported by Network of Professionals

College of Education supervisors provide essential guidance and instruction to student-teachers as they work through their classroom internships.

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.—Students preparing for teaching careers through programs in Penn State’s College of Education have a strong network of support to help them succeed. One part of that network is the team of faculty members, called supervisors, who provide assistance during a student’s many field experiences, or student-teaching internships.

Dan ThompsonAccording to Dan Thompson, director of the Department of Curriculum and Instruction Field Experiences (CIFE) Office, supervisors have a number of important roles when it comes to field experiences, which are around the corner and around the world. School district partnerships are located across Pennsylvania, from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh, and in Pierre, S.D. Students may also choose international field experiences in 16 countries.

First, supervisors are mentors and instructors for students in the program.

“They meet regularly with the students and hold weekly seminars to talk about the issues that are going on,” said Thompson. “They open up discussions with the students about what they are doing and seeing.”Student-teacher working with students

Supervisors help students learn administrative processes that every teacher needs to know to get through the day. They also work through problems that students encounter, such as classroom management issues, assessment or engagement strategies.

“The supervisors are a critical interface between the ideas in education that students receive in the program and what is actually is going on in the schools,” said Thompson.

Diane Goluboff, an instructor in the College, has served as a supervisor for 15 years in the Philadelphia region. She said one of her main goals as a supervisor is to bring clarity to theory and demonstrate how theory translates into the reality of today’s schools and classrooms.

Student-teachers in class“The best part of this work is the daily journey into schools, making a difference and helping to shape our future educators and, through them, a future generation of citizens,” said Goluboff.

Kelly Fragin, a supervisor in the Central Pennsylvania region, said the most important part of her job is the weekly observations she conducts.

"Observations afford me the opportunity to watch the student-teachers and have them reflect on their teaching,” said Fragin. “Through these observations we can talk about what is working well and what challenges the student is having.”

Kathleen Sillman, assistant professor of education, has been a supervisor for 13 years in the Central Pennsylvania region. She said her main goal is to be supportive of student-teachers as they experience how children learn and thus, how they need to teach.

Student-teacher instructs classroom“I work from the beginning to create a safe learning relationship between each student-teacher and mentor, where the student-teachers feel comfortable trying various strategies and assessments, and through constant reflection with their mentors and me, become confident in their choices,” said Sillman. “Seeing them gain confidence and realize they can help children learn is the best feeling I can have in a job well done.”

Michelle Pasterick, a supervisor in the Central Pennsylvania region, said one of her main goals is helping student-teachers develop into teachers.

“My role is helping students develop the ability to learn from the ‘mistakes’ that they might make and to realize that it's ok when things don't go exactly as planned,” said Pasterick. “Then I help them figure out how to do things differently in the future to gain more success—for themselves and their students.”

In addition to these responsibilities, a supervisor is the point person for the College of Education in the school districts.

“They are, in a sense, the spokesperson for Penn State,” said Thompson. “They represent the College, and they build relationships with the schools to encourage the schools to take our students and secure placements for interns.”

“Student-teacher placements are very competitive across the state and nation,” said Thompson. “We compete with other colleges and universities for placements, and the College relies on supervisors to maintain good relationships with the schools. We couldn’t function without them.”

--by Kevin Sliman (February 2014)