Frustrated with Practicum Student

Discussion in 'General Education' started by waterfall, May 9, 2012.

  1. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    May 9, 2012

    I don't know what to do about my practicum student. It's a really awkward situation, because she actually directs our Pre-K program, but went back to school to get her early childhood special education license. So she works in my building for her "real job" too, and we have several mutual friends so although I'd say we're more "friendly acquaintances" she's really close with some of my friends so we end up at the same social functions. If you remember the "bachelorette party" post- she'll be there. I just have not been impressed with her at all. On the one hand, she knows she wants to stay in pre-k, but since "early childhood" technically goes up to 3rd grade, she had to do a "primary" practicum with me. So she already knows this type of job isn't for her and isn't interested in pursuing it anyway. I don't have any problem with that. I had to a secondary placement in college because my sped license is technically k-12, and I knew full well secondary wasn't for me and wasn't my strength either. What really concerns me though is her professionalism.

    On the first day she was supposed to meet me (which I came in early to school for) she didn't show up at all and e-mailed me the next day saying she had forgotten. We set up another meeting and she explained all of her requirements to me and we picked out some students for her to work with. She was supposed to come observe on several days, many of which she had to reschedule because she again "forgot" the first time. She is supposed to get something like 170 contact hours, and she hasn't done anywhere NEAR that. She was allowed to work with the kids in their gen ed rooms, so she's done that some but I'm still positive nowhere near the amount of time she was supposed to. She's been in my room less than 10 hours total, and her practicum is ending now. She works almost full time in the pre-k, so I don't know how her supervisor thought she could meet those hours anyway (her supervisor is aware of the job situation). She hasn't actually done any teaching at all- I know there is one lesson that I'm supposed to observe her for, but I'm thinking she's supposed to do more (I don't know that for sure- but ONE actual lesson for an entire practicum? I don't buy it). Anyway, her actual lesson was supposed to be on Friday. I was DRA testing the rest of the day so had canceled my normal classes except for the one she was supposed to teach. I had two students still testing with me, but they are older and for their DRA tests it's almost all independent, so I had planned on just having them finish in the hallway as soon as she arrived so that she could begin her lesson. Apparently she looked in through the window, saw I was testing, and didn't want to interrupt. I really wish she would have just come in to ask or tapped on the window or something, but I figured it was a reasonable excuse so I let that one slide. I rescheduled with her to do the lesson yesterday afternoon. I saw her at lunch and reminded her what time she was coming in later that day. I waited 10 minutes, and finally just went and got the kids myself. I had nothing planned of course, but luckily I'd planned for the rest of the week and just grabbed today's lesson and quickly did it with them yesterday for the rest of the time so I didn't just miss their intervention time again. She came running in at the very end of the day to tell me that she forgotten all about it. We had to reschedule again for tomorrow, even though her paperwork was supposedly due this Monday.

    I don't know what to do about her scores. A lot of the rubric is based on a report she did about meetings, the way our school works, etc. etc. She did hand me a copy of that and it was actually very well done, so I'm comfortable giving her a good score on that. There is one rubric item that's "professional practice" that I think I would probably give her a 2 (developing) on. Is that too harsh? These are online classes, so I've had no contact with her supervisor, and there's nothing for me to sign off on saying she came so many hours or taught so many lessons, so I don't really know what to do about all of the missed hours. I understand people make mistakes and I don't want to go ruining anyone's career or anything, but even as a pre-k sped teacher you need to be very organized with paperwork, meetings, and deadlines. In the sped world, a missed deadline for a meeting or paperwork is literally a legal matter and not something you can just mess around with.
     
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  3. monsieurteacher

    monsieurteacher Aficionado

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    May 9, 2012

    My gut instinct is that a 2 (developing) for professional practice is more than fair... I don't know what a 1 means, but I don't know that her actions have really showed any signs of her professionalism actually developing.
     
  4. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    May 9, 2012

    It sounds like you are well within your rights to give her 2s (or even 1s) on anything that has to do with professional behavior, timeliness, follow-through, etc. I also think that you should be honest about the number of hours she was in your classroom if you have an opportunity to report on that. Don't feel bad about any of it. It was all her choice. If you fluff numbers or give her better evaluations than she deserves, you're essentially saying that what she did was acceptable.
     
  5. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    May 9, 2012

    Yes. Please be honest in your evaluation of her. Just like with regular students, lying to them about their performance isn't going to help them at all.

    Professionalism is something that is HUGELY necessary for a job in teaching. If she is not professional, her students and their parents are going to pick up on it, even if her principal doesn't. If she doesn't work on it, she won't last very long in her profession.

    If you can, give her tips on how she can organize her time, and remember appointments. "I forgot" isn't really acceptable at the age she is at and in the profession she is choosing.
     
  6. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    May 9, 2012

    For this reason alone, I would give her a 1 or 2. I think you are well deserved in giving her that score. A district is not going to like being told that she 'forgot' a deadline, and missing deadlines could mean her job and career.
     
  7. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    There is nothing on the sheet to report on how many hours she actually came or anything like that. I know she had told her supervisor that it was impossible to meet all of those given her work hours, so I don't know if the supervisor just said ok? I get the impression that this program is pretty lax. It's an all online degree. Should I try to contact the supervisor and tell her that she didn't complete the hours?
     
  8. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    May 9, 2012

    The program being lax is no excuse for putting out ill-prepared candidates. Contact her supervisor and explain the situation. If the supervisor simply ignores it, you may have to go higher up the hierarchy, or maybe inform your district about the concerns you have about this program. They will be able to put things into action, whether it be whistle-blowing or putting less preference on hiring from that program.

    I would also recommend that you contact the student. It may result in a confrontation, but sometimes, the student falls into the trap of the program being too lax, and so they don't put as much effort into it. Explain to her that in the job world, her lack of professionalism won't fly and she will lose her job quickly. (That should open her ears hopefully.)

    If she just continues to complain, or just gets angry, just give her the evaluation you have to give her and be done with it.
     
  9. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Groupie

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    May 9, 2012

    What I did in a situation like this was to give the 2 and jot my reasoning on the sheet. I also asked the supervisor's advice. She was shocked when she found out what her practicum students was doing (or not doing).

    Until this experience, I always wondered how some weak teachers could get hired and retain their jobs. I decided I would not be part of a system that simply passed the problem on to others. Good luck with this situation. You didn't start it, but you might have to end it.





    Favorite Teacher Blogs:
    http://ed-is-life.blogspot.com/ and http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/Bridging-Differences/
     
  10. TripleTeach

    TripleTeach Rookie

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    May 9, 2012

    To avoid this type of situation in the future, at the beginning of the practicum I would ask for a copy of all of the requirements for the class, so that you know exactly how many hours, etc. are required. The first time that a meeting is "forgotten" I would let the student know that it was not acceptable and that it if happens again you will be contacting the supervisor.
    I know this must be really awkward since you know this person socially. Good luck.
     
  11. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    May 9, 2012

    It sounds like she may have taken advantage of your friendship and thought she could let things slide. I would do what Peregrin5 has suggested but I would give her a 1.
     
  12. 1cubsfan

    1cubsfan Companion

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    May 9, 2012

    I can understand her perspective. She is working full time and taking classes; this is time consuming. Because this isn't as important as her other practicums, it probably just got pushed to the back of her mind.

    Consider her work habits for her "real" job. Is she on time? Does she complete things on time? Does she forget to do things for the pre-k? If she seems professional there as far as you can tell, then I would go easy on her. What she did was unprofessional and put you in a bit of a bind with her not showing up, so I think it's fine to give her a 2, but probably not a 1. But that's just my opinion.
     
  13. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    May 9, 2012

    I disagree.

    I expect my students to fulfill the requirement of my course, whether or not they anticipate ever using the work we're covering. So even if they never see another proof in their lives, I expect them to give proofs their best effort. Even if they're sure they'll never again speak Spanish, I expect them to do their Spanish homework. Even if they're sure they'll never need to read Shakespear again, or ever care how many wives Henry VIII had, I expect them to learn what the curriculum entails. Even if they "know" they'll never need it. Even if they're busy.

    And I teach teenagers, not adults.

    This is no different. You don't get to pick and choose which of the course requirements apply to you. If you take the course, you're expected to complete each of the components of it.
     
  14. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    May 9, 2012

    The OP is not being asked to evaluate what the other teacher does in her full time job. She, as a cooperating teacher, is required to score her on her performance on the required tasks. Sounds like she did an abysmal job meeting the requirements. I think a '2' would be MORE than generous. I wouldn't put my name and professional reputation on the line by submitting a dishonest report.
     
  15. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    May 9, 2012

    This!!
     
  16. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    I guess I'm just going to try to speak to her supervisor, b/c I don't really understand why she was allowed to sign up for this course anyway. The supervisor is well aware that she has a full time job in the pre-k. The only reason she even can get away for a few hours a week is that pre-k is shorter than an elementary day- but even then they often have meetings to go to. Even if she spent every possible moment with me, she wouldn't have been able to touch the required hours which the supervisor was aware of. So I guess I just need to find out what her "real" expectations were. This girl has actually already accepted a teaching abroad position on a three-year contract, so whatever I say won't really affect her career-wise anyway. In her reflection of the experience she basically said she thought the job was "too hard" (not in those exact words, but that pretty much sums it up) and she would never want to work in this kind of position anyway, so I guess her supervisor will know that. It's just going to be really awkward b/c I know I'll be seeing her quite a bit this summer. She's one of the girls going on the "weekend bachelorette party" and it's a pretty small group all staying in a suite together...awkward. I also have to give the forms directly back to her- I wish I could just turn them into the supervisor!
     
  17. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    May 9, 2012

    Two sounds generous. But I understand your awkward situation. I don't know if I could handle these situations, so I avoid them...it would stress me terribly!

    For the record, I had to collect 170 hours or something close for my master's practicum while teaching as well.
     
  18. WindyCityGal606

    WindyCityGal606 Enthusiast

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    May 9, 2012

    I will NEVER take on another job as a cooperating teacher again. I learned the hard way the difficulties and stress of having someone incompetent placed with me and having to spend more time teaching THEM than my students. UGH... I agree that you are being much more than generous and I don't understand why...? You don't owe that person a thing. They have an opportunity to work with your students and an obligation to fulfill all the requirements of their program in a way that demonstrates their capabilities. Whether or not this person plans to ever teach the grade level in which they are placed for practicum is not an excuse to be lazy. Your students deserve better and your time is worth more. I wouldn't have put up with it as long as you have. There are too many amazing, deserving teachers out there waiting for that one chance to have their own classroom. It's time to stop making excuses for those other ones who need to move aside. I work my behind off every day and I expect teachers I work with to do the same.
     
  19. teachart

    teachart Comrade

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    May 10, 2012

    I am not sure what to tell you, but I am shocked you don't have to sign anything verifying when she was with you. For all of my field placements we have to keep a log documenting our time in, time out, and experiences that is signed by the cooperating teacher.
     

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