Field Experience Observation Assignment 180 Days/Bridges Visits

As Bridges to the Future Candidates, you are expected to participate in a visit to the 180 Days in Springfield Schools and host visitors from the 180 Days in Springfield project. Please be aware that this visit is required and is a central aspect of your EDUC 524 course. Through your observations, you will better understand the choice you are making to become a teacher, the assumptions and expectations that you bring to this work, and the realities of work in a variety of classrooms. (Evidence-based Practice)

Your responsibilities for the field experiences are as follows:

You are an active observer, collecting and recording field notes.

Here’s how we describe field notes:

Observational data an observer collects from observations, conversations, and materials, such as textbooks, websites, pamphlets etc. Data may be recorded in written notes, and sketches. These observations may include:

1. Physical setting.

2. Activities.

3. Human, social environment. The way in which human beings interact within the environment. This includes patterns of interactions, frequency of interactions, direction of communication patterns, decision-making patterns.

4. Formal interactions.

5. Informal interactions and unplanned activities.

6. Verbal and Nonverbal communication.

7.Observing what does not happen (NSF 2011).

8. As a bonus: What types of academic language do you notice?

Keep a field experience journal/notebook in which to record your findings.

While you are in the schools, take every opportunity to speak with students, administrators, secretaries, custodians, school counselors, school psychologists, special education teachers, etc. Although the state has mandated these visits, please understand that the schools are under no obligation to provide them for us. They do so out of good will between the University and the school, and because they assume a sense of professional obligation to help prepare new teachers. It is very important that you recognize the good will of the schools in making themselves available to us and that you carry out the experience in a way that maintains and strengthens that good will. Don’t force any conversations/visits unless they present themselves naturally.

You will write a 1-2 page response to each of these observations; these will be addressed in class early in October. Until then, you will apply your knowledge of the visits during our EDUC 524/592SS class time discussions.

When in schools please be prepared to:

1. Keep your appointments. If you are observing in a classroom, let the teacher who you would be observing know you won’t be there. In most cases, you will simply shadow your host as they experience their day.

2. Dress appropriately. Schools differ in their expectations of dress, but most frown upon blue jeans for professionals. When in doubt, dress more formally rather than too casually.

3. Do not leave in the middle of the class unless you have arranged to do so with the teacher beforehand. For most class observations, you should plan on arriving before the class begins and leaving after it ends.

4. Keep in mind that you are there to observe and should only join into discussions or activities when invited to do so by the teacher.

5. As noted above, while in schools refrain from evaluating faculty, staff and students. Teachers are allowing us into their classrooms for a short period of time and we are missing a large part of the context of the classroom and school.

6. Be aware that there is absolutely no smoking allowed on public school property in the state of Massachusetts.

7. Have fun, and go with the flow. Each experience will be different. As long as you are acting professionally, there’s no “wrong way” to experience this visit.