On Placement

Now You are On Placement Pre-service teachers will also be required to show evidence of planning, evaluating and reflecting, in accordance with the following guidelines:

  • Professional Standards

    • Standard 1: Know students and how they learn
    • Standard 2: Know the content and how to teach it
    • Standard 3: Plan for and implement effective teaching and learning
    • Standard 4: Create and maintain supportive and safe learning environments
    • Standard 5: Assess, provide feedback and report on student learning
    • Standard 6: Engage in professional learning
    • Standard 7: Engage professionally with colleagues, parents/carers and the community
    • Pre-service teachers in the Early Childhood Education strand must also meet the standards set by the Australian Childrens’ Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA)www.acecqa.gov.au

      The Professional Experience curriculum acknowledges that successful professional experiences are built on partnerships both external to the University and internal to the University. All stakeholders play an integral role, including mentor teachers, site co-ordinators, university staff (both academic and administrative) and pre-service teachers. Everyone involved in Professional Experience should expect it to be stimulating, challenging and ultimately rewarding. This Professional Experience Handbook has been prepared to assist in this endeavour. It contains essential contextual information, contact details and guidance in relation to roles, responsibilities, assessment and reporting. Please note: individual professional experience courses will provide specific overviews to be read in conjunction with this handbook.

  • Planning

      Detailed written plans must be completed for all learning and teaching experiences. These plans must be submitted to the mentor teacher in a timely manner before undertaking any teaching. The manner (e.g. hard or electronic copies) in which this happens should be negotiated with the mentor teacher ahead of time. These plans could include:

    • Full lesson plans
    • Daily Planners
    • A weekly timetable
    • Unit Planners
    • The planning should take into account the site contexts, curriculum documents (e.g. Australian Curriculum (Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority [ACARA], 2011), Early Years Learning Framework [EYLF] (Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations and Council of Australian Governments [DEEWR and CAG], 2009) and any other systemic documentation (e.g. Teaching for Effective Learning Framework [TfEL] (Department of Education and Children’s Services, 2010)).

  • Evaluation

      Evaluations are to be written for each teaching experience. These will initially focus on individual teaching experiences and then on half and whole days. Each evaluation should focus on the students’ learning and the pre-service teacher’s teaching and learning. Useful guiding questions include:

    • To what extent were intended learning outcomes achieved?
    • What went well?
    • What individual/group/class needs should be noted for attention?
    • What needs programming or follow up due to interruptions, lack of time, students’ interests etc?
    • What should I try to improve in my own teaching and/or management?
    • What do I want to discuss with my mentor teacher/s and/or university liaison?
    • What needs programming or follow up due to interruptions, lack of time, students’ interests etc?
  • Reflecting

      An expectation of all Professional Experience courses is that pre-service teachers will critically reflect on educational practice by engaging in personal reflection and professional dialogue with colleagues (peers, mentor teachers and other staff). Pre-service teachers are introduced to a range of strategies for promoting reflection on their learning and teaching including the use of journals (for reflection on their learning, as distinct from evaluating their teaching), critical friends and peer observation and debriefing. Pre-service teachers are expected to take responsibility for implementing strategies for reflection during the placement including negotiating time outside of the classroom for this to occur.

  • Requirements – Full Time

      Pre-service teachers are expected to attend all compulsory Professional Experience days from 8.15am - 4.30pm or as required by each site/school. This includes the blocks which require a continuous, full-time, on-going commitment. At times, pre-service teachers may be required to attend additional events or activities as requested by sites and schools.

  • Absent

      The initial teacher education program has been accredited by the South Australian Teachers Registration Board of South Australia for 80 days placement in an undergraduate program and 60 days placement in a graduate-entry program. The university of South Australia must comply with these requirements, therefore days missed are required to be made up in the same study period to ensure the appropriate number of days are completed for preservice teachers to graduate from the respective programs. Pre-service teachers in the early childhood strand complete 100 days in the undergraduate program and 80 days in the post graduate program to meet Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACEQUA) requirements. During Professional Experience placements, absences are only allowed for reasons pertaining to staff at the site e.g. illness or compassionate reasons such as the death of a family member or close friend.

      Please note: holidays or events such as weddings do not constitute compassionate reasons. Any case for variation to a Professional Experience placement must be made by completing the ‘Request to Variation’ form available by contacting the Professional Experience office by email on EDS-PracticumOffice@unisa.edu.au. Variations to placement will only be granted in exceptional circumstances. Documentary evidence will be required to support any requests.

      Pre-service teachers who are absent must notify the setting by 8.00am on the morning of absence and must also notify their university liaison. Absence during the block will need to be made up in the week immediately following the block. This will be negotiated with the site coordinator, the mentor teacher/s and the University liaison.

  • Managing Concerns

      Formative assessment and reporting will occur throughout the placement. Mentor teachers provide regular verbal and written feedback to pre-service teachers based on their observations of and discussions about their work. Both the pre-service teacher and the mentor teacher will engage in on-going evaluation of the pre-service teacher’s performance against the criteria identified in the Final Report based on the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers.

      During the second week of any block placement of four weeks or longer, the mentor teacher/s will discuss and complete the Interim Report with the pre-service teacher. The Interim Report is a formative document and therefore becomes part of the pre-service teacher’s portfolio and does not need to be sent to the Professional Experience Office, unless the pre-service teacher is deemed to be At Risk in any area. The Interim Report provides the opportunity for clear identification of the pre-service teacher’s strengths and those areas needing further development. It can be used as an opportunity for the pre-service teacher to set goals for the remainder of the placement.

      The final report provides evidence of achievement during each placement. Final reports are designed to be either developmental or for employment purposes, as depicted in the table below.

      A final report for developmental purposes should indicate the level of development achieved by the pre-service teacher and identify important areas of growth that has occurred during the placement. It is important that comments include rich descriptions and provide examples to illuminate aspects of the pre-service teacher’s performance. A final report for employment purposes should indicate the level of achievement against the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers.

      The following is a guide to assist mentor teachers in writing summative comments on the final reports. The indicators listed are consistent with the categories in the final Professional Experience report and the terminology used reflects the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers (Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership [AITSL], 2011) for entry into the Teachers Registration Board [TRB] register and the TRB Code of Ethics (Teachers Registration Board of South Australia, 2012).

      More details about the standards and focus areas can be found at this site: www.teacherstandards.aitsl.edu.au/static/docs/Australian_Professional_Standard_for_Teachers_FINAL.pdf

  • Assessment/Reporting

      If, at any point in the placement, there are concerns about the pre-service teacher’s performance, the mentor teacher and/or site coordinator must contact the University liaison and/or the Professional Experience Office. The mentor teacher, university liaison and preservice teacher then complete the At Risk Agreement.

      This process will enable pre-service teachers who are deemed to be ‘at risk’ to address the concerns, and for the university liaison to provide additional support to the pre-service teacher and mentor teacher. The At Risk Agreement must be sent to the Professional Experience Office. On receipt of the agreement the Course Coordinator will be contacted and will manage the ongoing process.

  • Final Report

      In situations where the pre-service teacher is working with more than one mentor teacher, it may be necessary for each mentor teacher to write a separate report for the pre-service teacher. This is especially the case in secondary settings where the pre-service teacher is working in two or more Learning Areas. In non-secondary settings, where the pre-service teacher works with more than one mentor teacher in a team teaching situation, it is more appropriate, in most instances, to complete one report. Mentor teachers in a team teaching situation can either both write comments (but no extra space should be used), or use a collaborative approach whereby both contribute pertinent information, but one person takes responsibility for writing and submitting the report.

      The Principal/site coordinator and mentor teacher/s make an overall rating of satisfactory or unsatisfactory achievement. The University liaison will also indicate a satisfactory or unsatisfactory achievement level on the report based on their communications with mentor teachers and/or site co-ordinator. A report template will be sent to mentor teachers via an email to the site coordinator and a signed hard copy should be returned by the end of the week following completion of placement to:

      University of South Australia
      Professional Experience Office
      School of Education
      Garth Boomer Building (G1-11)
      Mawson Lakes Boulevard
      MAWSON LAKES SA. 5095

  • Termination/Withdrawal Fail

      Pre-service teachers who do not meet the conditions of the At Risk Agreement will have their placement terminated and will receive a Fail grade for the course. Immediate termination can occur, at any time, without going through the At Risk Agreement. A pre-service teacher who is deemed by the Principal, site coordinator, mentor teacher or university liaison to be behaving unprofessionally (e.g. unsatisfactory attendance, preparation and/or teaching), or who is compromising the learning of the students/children, will have their placement terminated. Written documentation is critical evidence in the event that a change to placement is to be considered. All parties must keep dated, written records to assist this process.

      Pre-service teachers do not terminate a placement without the advice and consultation of other professionals like the mentor teacher, site coordinator, Principal, University liaison or Course Coordinator. If a pre-service teacher chooses to leave a placement, it will be deemed unsatisfactory, a Fail grade will be awarded and the pre-service teacher will be able to repeat the placement when it is next offered in the relevant course, if appropriate. Alternate placements are not sought unless there are extenuating circumstances that have been determined and where consultation has occurred with appropriate school and university personnel.

      Under any of these circumstances, the preservice teacher will be advised by the Course Coordinator to contact the Program Director for academic advice and, if required, the Learning and Teaching Unit, for counselling. If a placement is terminated under any of these circumstances, the pre-service teacher will receive a Fail grade for the course, and may be able to enrol in the relevant course when it is next offered and repeat it at that time.

      The Director of Professional Experience may also be involved in this process.

Areas of study and research

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