By Julie Ann Madden
Selecting student teachers will be a little like speed dating now, according to Akron-Westfield Grades Preschool-6 Principal Cathy Bobier.
The University of South Dakota is changing its education curriculum by requiring college students to complete a full-year of student teaching instead of just a semester, Bobier told the Akron-Westfield School Board at their Dec. 10, 2012 meeting.
In order to have a positive successful long-term student teaching experience, the process for interviewing student teaching candidates has changed to mesh their personalities with teachers’ personalities.
A-W teachers will meet with several student teaching candidates in short individual interviews, and both the students and the teachers will give USD Education Program administrators their top three choices to work with. Then student teachers/teacher pairs will be created.
Board Member Josh Martinsen made the motion to enter into an agreement with the University of South Dakota for Professional Development (Student Teaching) Services, and Board Member Deb Jordt seconded it. The vote was unanimous, 6-0 with Board Members Phil Parks absent.
Student Teaching Stipends
In addition, student teachers may be offered incentives by the school districts.
Several South Dakota community schools are offering stipends such as monetary stipends, meals, housing, and paid substitute teacher and coaching opportunities.
The concern was that the student teachers would not be working for a full year but would still be able to graduate from USD in four years. The only exception would be Fine Arts students who would need more years to complete their required studies.
Board members originally asked A-W administrators to come up with a possible list of incentives but Shared Superintendent Randy Collins said that would be an endless list and asked them to trust the administrators’ judgment.
Incentives mentioned included school breakfast and lunch meals, lodging at a community member’s home, and offering paid volleyball line judging and a variety of coaching positions.
“There’s no way to anticipate what we may need to offer,” said Collins. “It depends on the candidates, our needs and our budget.”
For example, if the district needs a chemistry teacher or foreign language teacher, we need to have flexibility with incentive offerings, he said, suggesting the board could agree to let administrators approve offering incentives “pending board’s approval.”
“I think it’s important that we are open to offering potential teacher candidates the opportunity to be in a district we value,” said Jordt. “I think it says something about us and I think the philosophy of this is good.”
Board Member Nick Schoenfelder suggested setting a maximum dollar amount for incentives and/or stipends.
Board Member Roger Oetken wanted more specifics but noted if the incentive was a coaching position, it wouldn’t cost the district any more than the coaching position (offered to whoever).”
Martinsen made the motion to allow administrators to offer student teachers’ incentives at their discretion, and Jordt seconded it. The vote was unanimous, 6-0.