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Teacher Education Partnership for School Experience - Students

"The student teachers should be seen as active participants in the partnership. Their attitude, behaviour and commitment during school-based work are just as important to its success as are the activity and professionalism of the HEI and school staff. Student teachers are likely to derive most benefit from school-based work if they seek to ensure that good personal and professional relationships are established with all those with whom they work." (Teacher Education Partnership Handbook, 1998, p.24)



Teacher Education Partnership Handbook Information


  • They should regard the authority of the school principal as applying to them
    as much as to other members of the school staff;
  • On or before the first morning of a period of school-based work, they should
    arrange to meet the principal at a specified time;
  • Throughout the period of the placement they should remain in the school for
    the whole of every working day, unless there are circumstances which have
    been communicated to, and accepted by, the principal and HEI tutor;
  • They should conform to the conventions of dress and personal appearance
    which are observed by teachers in the school;
  • They should adopt patterns of writing and speaking that set pupils a good
    example, and that are appropriate for the teaching profession;
  • They should consult with the teacher-tutor or class teacher about such topics
    as schemes of work, teaching and learning resources, teaching aids,
    equipment, and discipline procedures;
  • They should remember that physical contact with pupils, for example,
    touching, pushing, pulling, tapping and prodding, might be perceived as
    constituting assault, and therefore any physical contact with pupils must be
  • They should make sure that, at the end of the period of school-based work,
    they have returned all books, keys, equipment or materials made available for
    their use by the school;
  • They should seek advice from the class teacher about their planning and
    preparation of their lessons, and comment on their teaching of the lessons.

(Teacher Education Partnership Handbook, 1998, p.24)


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School Experience Requirements - General Expectations For Each Year Group






One Week Semester One:


The first week of School Experience in November/ December provides the perfect opportunity for you to:

  • become familiar with the class(es) and school in which you will be placed;
  • gather information which will help you prepare for the seven-week placement in the Spring;
  • consider how the key competences applicable to your year can be developed.

You will be expected to be in school at the same time as the staff. Please remember that:

  • you should regard all school/class matters as strictly confidential - these should not be discussed outside school;
  • you are a guest of the school and should dress appropriately.


One Day Visit:

The primary purpose is to discuss preparation with relevant school personnel, whose recommendations should be implemented.

School Experience Main Block :

All students are expected to start teaching from the first day. Students should present themselves professionally with respect to both behaviour and dress.


Average Weekly Total


Primary students (placed in Foundation/K.S.1 classes) should get involved in structured play under the host teacher's direction.




One Week Semester One:

The first week of School Experience provides the perfect opportunity for you to:

  • become familiar with the class(es) and school in which you will be placed;
  • gather information which will help you prepare for the seven-week placement in the Spring;
  • consider how the key competences applicable to your year can be developed.

You will be expected to be in school at the same time as the staff. Please remember that:

  • you should regard all school/class matters as strictly confidential - these should not be discussed outside school;
  • you are a guest of the school and should dress appropriately.

One Day Visit :

The primary purpose is to discuss preparation with relevant school personnel, whose recommendations should be implemented.

Students are required to remain in school for the full day and should discuss arrangements for location, preparing and correcting work, etc. during non-teaching periods.


School Experience Main Block:

All students are expected to start teaching from the first day. Students should present themselves professionally with respect to both behaviour and dress.



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Code Of Practice

It is during school experience that students learn the realities of what it is like to be a teacher and the commitments and demands that teaching makes. Teaching is a profession, and becoming a teacher is a process of learning how to behave and act in a professional manner. It entails learning and acquiring particular professional knowledge and specific professional skills but, most importantly, acquiring and acting on a particular set of values. The General Teaching Council for Northern Ireland has outlined some of the core values of the teaching profession. These are trust, fairness, respect, transparency, integrity, commitment, and honesty. Such values will shape the relationships between the student and those with whom he/she works, for example pupils, teachers and College tutors, and they will underpin in a special way the work of the teacher in the Catholic school. Studentsare expected to have a commitment to self-improvement. This will entail the student taking responsibility for his/her own professional development and showing initiative and enterprise. It will require being open to learning from others, such as teachers and College tutors, and learning through reflecting on one’s own experience.

This Code of Practice outlines the College’s expectations of professional behaviour and attitudes during school experience.  The Code addresses various issues including:

Professional Behaviour

Relationships in schools

General behaviour in schools


Dress code

Professionalism in Teaching

Professional Attitudes

Planning for School Experience


Professional Development

Reflection on Preparation

Reflection on Teaching

Reflection on Professional Advice

Extending Professional Knowledge

Engaging in the Wider Life of the School

If you wish any further information, please contact Claire Connolly on the following telephone number or email addresses:

Tel: 02890 268258

Email: Ann Conlon or Claire Connolly

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General Information

Students are expected to prepare, deliver and evaluate lessons each day in school. Further information will be provided in the 'Host Teacher Handbook' that will go to each teacher who accepts a student on School Experience.


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Download the templates for school experience


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Students' Views On School Experience



" School Experience was stressful in the way that I didn't actually know how much was expected of a teacher. I had so many things to do that I panicked at some points but I got through it and it all went well. My organisation of time sometimes didn't go to plan and this meant that work was finished too quickly and the children became restless sometimes. I learnt that classroom control, discipline and effective learning/teaching strategies need to be used to grasp the children's attention at all times. Having boring 'text' work doesn't always work. By knowing all the levels at which the children are working would help me because it would enable me to set work for the weaker children and the more able children."




"After having particularly long, hard and unsuccessful days during school experience I found it incredibly difficult to go home and plan a range of lessons for the next day or had little will to continue. I found it difficult to find a range of new and interesting ways to present information to the class. It was also difficult to find resources for lessons as I have little experience and haven't gathered much up. Looking back I feel that I have developed in maturity a lot and have also gained valuable practical life experience. I also have created a close bond with staff, students and other trainee teachers. Students, however, should be allocated time for planning schemes and lessons prior to teaching practice as this year we had little opportunity to do this as we were doing unrelated assignments. A number of more specific briefings on what exact requirements are needed of your school experience file and how it should be organised should be introduced as this is somewhat a vague area."




"At times during my school experience it seemed as of the teacher did not know exactly what I was meant to be doing, I was like a classroom assistant. I got stressed over the amount of preparation involved as well as the completion of the folder. I was nervous when tutors came out and found it very stressful. They are assessing you on one lesson and this does not reflect how you normally teach. Practical problems included getting and making my own resources as this was quite costly and it all added up. I felt that I gained an excellent experience from hands-on working with children and playing a part in the school life. I do feel that more time should be provided to students to plan and prepare material for school experience. Al least a full week with no assignments or classes in order to gather resources and materials."




"My class teacher for school experience was very difficult to get on with. At times she was very nice to me and at other times she barely spoke. It was a very difficult class to be in as the teacher was unpredictable and the children were very lively. The teacher wasn't always very accommodating in letting me use certain resources. What I learned from the experience is how to work in a stressful classroom with a very lively class. The one week of experience in November is too long after 1st Year as the children begin to see you as a classroom assistant and it is difficult to change this. I think that host teachers need to be better prepared for having a student teacher in their class and they must be sure that they want one."




"During school experience I felt it took a lot to prepare lessons and to keep the children interested, you always had to think ahead and ensure that everything was at the children's level and that the work was suited to the ability ranges within the classroom. I found at times that it was very difficult to control the class when they were doing practical activities, they would become noisy and unsettled and so it was hard to get them under control again to do the work. I was able to identify my strengths and weaknesses as a student teacher, and so take them into consideration to improve upon for future teaching practices. In regards to being a secondary trained student I felt that I was under-prepared for subjects such as Science, History, etc, as the College does not provide classes to prepare us for all primary subjects. I felt I was at a disadvantage. However, this does force us to go do the work and prepare ourselves as teachers should."




"I felt stress only during the first 2 weeks of school experience. I found the Head of Department (i.e. the teacher I was with) to be very condescending and demoralising. I was very intimidated by her presence until I proved myself to her. I found timing the lesson plan to be the main problem as it was difficult to get everything done within class time. I gained vital experience and advice for the class teachers which helped to shape me as a teacher and I found the Religion teacher to be very inspiring. Three days would be adequate in November rather than one whole week. I would also like more advice on how to approach troublesome children and how to deal with misbehaviour."




"During my School Experience I was afraid of not getting photocopying done on time, afraid that my schemes and resources were not correct, and that I was spending so much time doing lesson plans. I felt under pressure dealing with discipline problems and coping with special needs pupils, I often asked myself what if something happens to a pupil while in my class? There was no OHP in the ICT room and access to the photocopier was a major problem as you had to leave the material you wanted photocopied in two days in advance. I gained confidence in myself and broadened my subject knowledge. I also gained experience with special needs pupils and got some practice as a form teacher. I also participated in organising school events such as a drama festival and P.E. activities. It would be great to have less paperwork to do and more resources available,with better access to photocopiers and a week off before school experience to prepare."




"The most stressful situations during school experience were unannounced visits from tutors. I also found that I had limited space available to do my work, and found it impractical working between different classrooms. I did enjoy actually being in the classroom and enhancing the pupils' learning by working with them and the staff. However, I do feel that I need more advice on filling out assessment proformas."


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Student Stress


Below is a list of 29 items which have been derived from D'Rozario & Wong's (1996) Survey of Practicum Stresses (SPS). These were deemed as being the main types of issues that arise during a student's school experience leading to varying levels of stress. Individual students devise their own coping strategies to deal with these and other issues as they reveal themselves, with some being more successful than others. The reason for adding them here is to make students, teachers and lecturers aware of the many different facets school experience can bestow upon the student.

managing time

managing groupwork

writing detailed lesson plans

managing individual pupil work

fear of failing school experience

giving appropriate feedback to pupils

managing the class and enforcing discipline

being observed by my supervising lecturer(s)

being evaluated by my supervising lecturer(s)

communicating with & relating to the principal

having high expectations of my teaching performance

communicating with & relating to my supervising lecturer(s)

communicating with & relating to other teachers in the school

coping with the overall teaching workload (lesson plans, schemes of work, etc)

striking a balance between school experience and personal commitments (e.g. family)

preparing resources for my lessons (e.g. overheads, worksheets, handouts, etc)

people expecting me to perform tasks beyond my current competency

communicating with & relating to the supervising teacher(s)

helping pupils with emotional/behavioural problems

managing assignments on my school experience

being evaluated by my supervising teacher(s)

being observed by my supervising teacher(s)

selecting appropriate content for my lessons

helping pupils with learning difficulties

communicating concepts to pupils

establishing rapport with pupils

teaching mixed ability classes

marking pupils' written work

delivering a lesson

There are many concerns running through the minds of students during their time preparing for and actually participating in the school experience component of their BEd degree. For example, there may be occasions when planned teaching activities conflict with actual teaching activities due to unforeseen circumstances occuring in the classroom, there may also be concerns with establishing trust with the teacher and the pupils, or with being given the opportunity to further develop your own professional/academic development through active participation in the classroom. Some of the major concerns students face include: not being regarded as a real teacher; having to become a disciplinarian; being assessed; having too little preparatory teaching practice; coping with a heavy workload; teaching about sensitive issues; getting the planning right; getting the teaching right; and dealing with disruptive behaviour. However, major achievements can be achieved by students adopting appropriate coping mechanisms which result in them developing their confidence, creating an orderly classroom, and taking responsibility.


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Learning Through Participation


Below is a link to a chart relating to four important issues associated with students learning through participation. The first is to do with the welcome they receive from the school, the second relates to the authority role in the classroom, the third deals with collaborative teaching, and the fourth refers to the type of feedback given to the students during their time on school experience. The initial stage of school experience, when the students enter the school for the first time, often sets the scene for what lies ahead. If the welcome is a positive one, then it can alleviate any pre-conceived fears the students may have, if it is a negative one, then the students' fears can be raised possibly resulting in turmoil and extreme anxiety. Ultimately the teacher has authority in the classroom, however one aspect of school experience is for the students to feel some level of authority during their time in the classroom, this inevitably strengthens their character and improves their self-esteem. Collaborative teaching has many benefits for all involved - student, pupils and teacher and refers to jointly planned and taught lessons. Feedback from the teacher is a vital ingredient of school experience where the students learn about themselves through the eyes and ears of a more experienced person, however it is important that it is sensitive in approach, constructive in meaning, and suitably timed.



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Stages Of Student Learning

(Furlong & Maynard 1995)

Early Idealism (Before School Experience Begins)

Students can have expectations that are idealistic and identify with the pupils rather than the teacher. They can be idealistic about the teacher they aspire to be, in that they do not want to make pupils fearful of them, they want to talk to pupils as equals and want to be caring and encouraging, their personality and relationships with the pupils are more important in their eyes compared to their effectiveness as a teacher. They can also be idealistic in their relationships with pupils, in that they aspire to be warm, friendly, caring, popular and respected. They can also have idealistic views on the physical appearance of the classroom, in that it is large, airy, spaceous, bright, full of colourful displays, with a happy, lively and buzzing atmosphere.

Personal Survival (Early Days/Weeks Of School Experience)

Students can experience a feeling of vulnerability as they are unaccustomed to the rules, routines and expectations of the teacher. Students level of self-esteem can also be diminished if pupils do not respond positively to them stamping their authority in the class.

Students strive to be seen as a teacher and not just assigned to work with a group of pupils, they want to have whole-class teaching.

Fitting in and conforming to the usual style of teaching for uniformity and stability can cause confict for students as they may have a different approach compared to the teacher.

Students usually have to challenge the 'ideal' between pupils liking the student (friend) and students having to establish their authority. The 'ideal' teacher which students initially wanted to be is often replaced by the teacher they feel they have to be in order to survive.

Establishing control in the classroom leads to a smoother performance by the stduent, however it can be a battle to get the full attention of all the pupils. When the student feels out of control, then he/she is consumed with fear, anger, frustration and exhaustion, leading to a poor performance.

Dealing With Difficulties (As And When They Arise)

When students strive to establish themselves as teachers, there is a shift from personal survival to survival as a teacher by mimicing what they believe to be teacher behaviour. This mimicing however is in relation to the appearance of a teacher rather than the conceptual understanding of what being a teacher involves.

There are many pressures associated with the student trying to impress. They can feel vulnerable and fearful of the teacher and often try to come up with new and exciting ideas to impress. There is also the pressure of trying to impress the pupils, as well as the lecturers during their visits.

There are also difficulties relating to teaching strategies and classroom organisation, with students having to consider the clarity of their explanations, their use of questioning, how they organise pupils into work groups, the elaborate preparation of worksheets, and differentiating planned work for the pupils based on their abilities, etc.

On many occasions students adopt and vary the strategies and talk used by the teacher to gain approval, to disguise a lack of experience/understanding, and because they know of no alternatives as yet. However, socialisation in this way could lead to tension as the student becomes quietly critical of the teacher's methods and practice whilst striving for personal autonomy.

Hitting A Plateau (Towards End Of School Experience)

The students appear to be growing in confidence in relation to managing the class and turning into a teacher both personally and professionally. However, most students are merely going through the motions of teaching and 'acting' as a teacher instead of 'thinking' as a teacher.

There are therefore still difficulties with teaching and learning, students find problems with devising and delivering lessons which reflect a detailed engagement with children's understanding and their learning over time. Factual knowledge, i.e. 'knowing that' is considered easier to understand and to teach comapred to conceptual knowledge, i.e. 'knowing how/about'. Students can also be lacking in their use of practical work/activities which they see as far too risky to contemplate as it may lead to them losing control of the class.

Moving On

In order to understand the roles and responsibilities of being a professional educator students have to consider the quality and value of what and how children learn, therefore teachers become more interventionist. They challenge students and get them to evaluate their whole understanding of teaching and learning by asking them to re-evaluate their planning and reflect on the broader implications of the activities they devise in terms of how pupils think and learn. Questions which students need to consider include:

  • what exactly are you wanting the pupils to learn?
  • why do the pupils need to learn this?
  • what use will this learning be to them?
  • what is the best method of teaching this?
  • how will you support and differentiate this learning?
  • why are you using this method of organisation?
  • what are the implications of this method?
  • what is the pupils' present understanding of this topic, and how do you know?
  • how does this lead on from, use or extend the pupils' present understanding?
  • how does this contribute to their greater understanding of this subject area?
  • what processes and skills are you developing?
  • how will you evaluate and monitor the pupils' learning and your teaching?

Like most challenges, there is usually some form of resistance and this can be true of students who have strongly held, but simplistic beliefs about the nature of teaching and learning. Sometimes being faced with real challenges in the classroom can often lead the student to start questioning him/herself.

Some students do understand the basic concepts of teaching and learning from their academic studies at university, however they can find it difficult to put into practice as thinking about it can lead them to lose control of the pupils. Teaching in ways that reflect more appropriate understanding about how children best learn, e.g. allowing the children to engage in enquiry and investigation through practical exercises, requires students to relinquish or soften their control, which is unsettling to the student.

As the student progresses through school experience, certain constraints are lifted by the teacher by allowing them more authority in the classroom, depending on their capabilities. This enables them to experiment and work in ways which they feel are more consistent with their own ideas about how children should learn. When students teach in a way that reflects their engagement with children's learning, they feel that they gain approval and are encouraged by the teacher, the lecturer, and even the pupils.


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