Student Teaching Policies and Procedures


The following information details the Policies and Procedures for Student Teachers.  This information is taken directly from the Student Teaching Performance Guide, Section III. 


The information provided here on Student Teaching Policies and Procedures includes:

The Student Teaching Experience

The Student Teacher Placement Process

Eligibility Requirements

Changes in Placements

Housing and Transportation



Student Discipline

Outside Course Work, Employment, and/or Extracurricular Activities

Substitute Teaching





The teacher education program at James Madison University has been developed in accordance with the guidelines of nationally recognized professional organizations and is accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education.  NCATE accreditation recognizes that JMU's teacher education program meets rigorous standards of excellence developed by the profession and provides high quality preparation for effective teaching.  


JMU offers licensure programs in art education, early childhood education, elementary education, middle education, music education, physical and health education, reading education, secondary education, special education, school administration, communication sciences and disorders, school psychology and school counseling. The program in each of these areas is consistent with the unit's conceptual framework.  Please contact the department chair or program coordinator directly if you have questions about any education program.


The Student Teaching Experience


Student teachers complete their experience according to this schedule:



                        Block 1 and Block 2 OR Block 3 and Block 4;

PHETE         Undergrads Block 4 senior year;

                        Grads one block that begins the fifth week of the semester

ECED/MAT one extended block that begins on the first day of the semester. 


Block 1 and Block 2 (fall semester), Block 3 and Block 4 (spring semester), and the mid-semester block last approximately eight weeks. The extended block lasts approximately twelve weeks.


Block 1 and extended block fall student teachers are strongly encouraged to participate in their school division's pre-school activities; however, summer responsibilities may make it impossible for some students to begin their student teaching experience until the start of the university's fall semester. Student teachers who begin their placements early still finish the block at the regular time. Spring student teachers do not receive their assignments until near the end of the fall semester; therefore, they are not able to participate in activities prior to the start of the JMU semester.


Regardless of the format of the student teaching/internship experience, students must follow the school division, not the university, calendar including vacations, holidays, and workdays.  In case of inclement weather, they need to listen to the local radio or television station for "no school" announcements. They must attend any school "make-up" days that are scheduled during the time of the placement.


Student teachers are expected to follow the cooperating teacher's schedule throughout the placement, observing the same hours and attending professional meetings such as faculty meetings, parent conferences, PTA, and county or city in-service workshops. They are also expected to take an active part in extra-curricular activities as appropriate.


The Student Teacher Placement Process


In the year before they intend to student teach, JMU candidates submit a student teaching packet to the Education Support Center for distribution to the school divisions in which the candidates are placed for student teaching. 


We are committed to providing for all candidates rich experiences in diverse settings to support their success in working with all students.  Candidates can expect to be placed in a range of classrooms and educational settings throughout their professional education program that reflect the demographics of our communities and beyond.  All locations used for placements are categorized based on characteristics that reflect diversity, such as socio-economic levels, rural vs. urban designation and diversity of cultures and languages present in the schools. Every attempt is made to provide opportunities for each candidate to experience as broad a spectrum of experiences as possible.  Some of the placements are available within our local city school division and others may be in communities within a commutable distance.  Therefore, candidates need to be aware that travel to schools outside of the immediate community may be required for their program.

The Coordinator of Field Experiences discusses possible placement requests with the appropriate department head or program coordinator.  Some factors that affect where these requests are made include where the student teacher is living, the degree of match between JMU and school division programs and expectations, the possibility of clustering student teachers at school partnership sites, and efficiency of supervision.  All student teaching requests for the next year are submitted in early spring. 

The requests are sent to individual school divisions (or to individual schools when the school division has so indicated) in two groups.  The first group contains requests for students who have met all student teaching requirements and deadlines.    Approximately a month later, a second, smaller group of requests is sent to the school divisions.  This group includes candidates who, for various reasons, were not able to complete all of their requirements prior to the regular student teaching deadline (for example, a student who was enrolled in, but had not completed, a required course).  This second group also includes candidates who could not be placed in the school division originally requested.  Under no circumstances will JMU request a placement for any candidate who has not met all prerequisites for student teaching.

Each school division handles its local placement process differently, but JMU and its partner school divisions have agreed to place student teachers only with cooperating teachers who have:

·        a valid Virginia Collegiate Professional License with proper endorsement for the teaching assignment;

·        three years (minimum) experience as a successful classroom teacher;

·        a commitment to life-long learning as evidenced by work towards a master's degree, workshops, college credits, or other types of activities that assist the teacher in increasing his/her knowledge and performance related to the teaching profession;

·        recognized expertise in subject matter knowledge and current and varied instructional strategies for the classroom;

·        skill in effective classroom management techniques;

·        knowledge of school/community relations;

·        strong oral and written communication skills;

·        strong organizational skills;

·        excellent human relations skills;

·        experience in working with adults and/or student teachers; and

·        a desire, willingness, and ability to work cooperatively with colleagues and student teachers.


Once a school division provides the ESC with its confirmed placements, the Coordinator of Field Experiences sends a confirmation letter to the student teacher and a welcome letter to the cooperating teacher. A cooperating teacher may know about his/her student teacher and make an initial contact long before the student teacher gets a confirmation letter from the ESC.  Because other factors besides a teacher's willingness to serve as a cooperating teacher may contribute to a final placement decision, we tell our student teachers that no placement is actually confirmed until they receive the confirmation letter from the ESC.


In general, a candidate is not placed in schools he/she attended as a student, where any immediate family members work or are students, or where he/she completed a practicum experience.  The following placement policy has also been considered in securing positions:


Local student teaching placements are made in accredited Virginia public and private schools, programs, and agencies within approximately one hour's driving distance from campus.  Some programs also place student teachers in northern Virginia, Richmond, and/or Tidewater.  Other local and non-local placement sites may be assigned in accordance with individual program and/or student needs.  All placements are based on availability and efficiency of appropriate supervision.


Student teachers should not contact school division personnel directly and may not request a student teaching or internship placement with a specific school division, school, or teacher.  Out-of-state student teaching/internship placements are not an option for any program.



Student Teaching/Internship Policies and Procedures


The teacher education programs at James Madison University have established critical guidelines to ensure program integrity and to provide quality educational experiences for their students.  Exceptions to these guidelines are made only in extenuating circumstances. 


Eligibility Requirements


Candidates approved for student teaching will have completed these requirements: been fully admitted into Teacher Education; maintained a 2.5 GPA; completed all prerequisite course requirements; submitted evidence of a negative TB screening; and completed training in child abuse recognition/reporting and in universal precautions.


Note: The ESC monitors the status of candidates prior to the start of each teaching block. A placement is withdrawn if the candidate has not maintained eligibility for student teaching/internships.


Changes in Placements


Changes in placements typically will not be made once positions within a specific school division have been requested and/or confirmed, unless a particular placement is inappropriate, which may happen occasionally.  If a student teacher receives notification of an assignment that he/she believes will not satisfy licensure requirements i.e., a vocal music placement for an instrumental music student teacher or an elementary level position for a secondary placement he/she should contact the ESC immediately.  The ESC makes the changes necessary to ensure that the placement will meet licensure requirements.


In rare instances the placement might be found to be inappropriate after the student teacher has made contact with the cooperating teacher i.e., the cooperating teacher's schedule will not allow sufficient time to assume full responsibility for classroom instruction.  In this situation, the student will notify the university supervisor or program coordinator immediately.  The ESC will work with the student, cooperating teacher, and program coordinator to provide an appropriate experience.


Housing and Transportation


Student teachers are responsible for their own housing during the student teaching/internship.  Spring student teachers who live on campus should check with Residence Life to determine which dormitories will remain open during spring break before making housing commitments.





Student teachers are also responsible for their own transportation while student teaching. They should check with the ESC for the names of other student teachers or interns placed in or near their host school if they wish to carpool.


Student teachers are required to update MyMadison with any address changes. Student teachers should contact the Coordinator of Field Experiences if an address change will affect a student teaching placement request.




There is no provision for absence during student teaching or internship except for personal illness, death in the immediate family, or other extreme circumstances. Any pre-planned absence from student teaching, including reporting to school late or leaving school early, must be approved in advance by the cooperating teacher, university supervisor, department head/program coordinator and/or director of the ESC.


In case of unexpected absence (illness, car trouble, etc.), the student teacher must notify the cooperating teacher immediately, calling the teacher at home or at school as soon as a problem arises.  If the student teacher cannot reach the teacher, he/she must contact the school principal.  He/she must keep calling until the teacher or principal has been notified.  At that time the student teacher should also inform his/her supervisor of any situation requiring an absence. The student teacher/intern is still responsible for providing the cooperating teacher with lesson plans to ensure continuity of instruction during the absence.


Student teachers are excused from classroom responsibilities in order to attend the required professional development conference held on campus each semester.  Interns and students teaching in their own classroom are encouraged, but not required, to attend these sessions.  Spring student teachers are also excused to attend the Teacher Recruitment Day held in February or March.  If the student teacher does not attend Teacher Recruitment Day, he/she must be present in the classroom.


Job interviews with school division personnel are important to all student teachers and interns. During student teaching, however, interviews need to be scheduled after school hours or during public school breaks. If this is not possible, the student must complete a request for interview absence form and receive permission for the absence, in advance, from the university supervisor and cooperating teacher.


Some programs recommend that students attend a professional development conference during student teaching. Student teachers wishing to do so must complete a request for interview absence form and receive permission for the absence, in advance, from the university supervisor and cooperating teacher.


If the student teacher is absent several times, for whatever reason, or frequently arrives late or leaves early, the cooperating teacher should contact the university supervisor and the supervisor should contact the ESC and program coordinator to determine if it is necessary to extend the placement to ensure that the student teacher meets program requirements and completes a full experience.




Student teaching and internship mark a significant step toward becoming a professional educator. Student teachers are expected, therefore, to demonstrate the attitudes and actions of a professional educator.  These include: conforming to the host school's rules and policies; extending basic rules of courtesy to teachers, pupils, school staff, and the broader school community; meeting the standards of dress, personal appearance, and professional behavior expected of the staff at the host school; and placing school responsibilities ahead of personal wishes.


A student teacher/intern will probably have access to confidential records and other highly personal information. He/she must safeguard such knowledge and use it for professional purposes only. The student teacher should exercise professional judgment about when, where, and with whom to discuss any aspect of student teaching/internship experience. The supervisor and/or cooperating teacher should share any specific concerns about confidentiality with the student teacher.


Student Discipline


Student teachers may not participate in administering corporal punishment to any students.  Under no circumstances may they use physical force, hit, or place their hands in anger on students to discipline them.


Outside Course Work, Employment, and/or Extracurricular Activities


Student teaching or internship is considered to be a full-time experience that takes precedence over all other responsibilities. Therefore, student teachers may not enroll in additional course work without securing prior written approval from his/her advisor, program coordinator or department head, and the Director of the Education Support Center.  A form for this purpose is available in the ESC.  Such requests will be granted only in exceptional circumstances.  In addition, student teachers must limit outside employment or participation in extra-curricular activities, including athletics, during the placement.  In no case may outside responsibilities be scheduled during the hours required for student teaching. Student teachers will be asked to drop any activities that interfere with student teaching or internship.


Substitute Teaching


Student teaching is the culminating experience for all initial teacher education programs.  It is a critical opportunity for candidates to demonstrate their proficiency in integrating the knowledge, skills, and dispositions outlined in the unit's conceptual framework.  As such, student teaching requires a significant commitment to a full-time experience under the mentorship of a qualified cooperating teacher.


In certain limited, clearly defined situations, however, a student teacher may serve as a substitute for his/her own cooperating teacher, if school division policies allow.  The following guidelines outline the procedures for implementing this policy:

·        Student teachers completing two eight-week placements may serve as a substitute for their cooperating teacher during the last two weeks of each placement.  Student teachers completing one twelve-week placement may serve as a substitute for their cooperating teacher during the last six weeks of their placement.

·        Substituting by a student teacher is limited to a total of three days per placement.

·        The decision to allow a student teacher to substitute for his/her cooperating teacher should be made cooperatively by the student teacher, cooperating teacher, building administrator, and university supervisor. 

·        Student teachers may elect not to serve as a substitute without repercussion. 

·        School divisions and/or building administrators may elect not to ask a student teacher to serve as a substitute and instead hire someone else to serve as a substitute teacher.  The substitute teacher then becomes the teacher-of-record.      

·        Student teachers may not substitute for other teachers in their building or school division at any time.

·        The school division has responsibility for ensuring that the student teacher meets its own requirements for substitute teaching (background checks, orientation, etc.). The student teacher must be paid according to the school division's substitute teacher pay scale.

·        The school division assumes legal liability for any student teacher serving as a substitute teacher.


(Approved by the TeacherEducation Coordinating Council, April 24, 2002)


Background Checks

Background checks and fingerprinting are now requirements by many school divisions for student teaching.   An updated list of requirements can be found here: Background check requirements