Decorum for Field Experiences
Completing your field hours in the school setting is an essential part of your program requirements. As a student from The University of Akron, you are expected to demonstrate professional conduct and behavior consistent with that of educators at all times. Professional behavior and a disposition that contributes to the learning environment will benefit both University of Akron students and our p-12 partner schools. Professional behavior may also enhance your chances for employment in that district or the ability to obtain references.
It is important that you follow the mandatory requirements noted below during field experiences and all times in school settings. These requirements provide operational definitions of professional behavior and expectations. If you believe you require special consideration, please speak to your course instructor about exceptions. Also, university instructors have discretion to intervene for unique situations that may not be described below. Failure to follow requirements for field experiences may result in such action as is deemed necessary and prudent, including but not limited to, removal from the field experience by the school, by the University, or both.
Attendance, Punctuality and Other School Policies
- Completion of all field experience hours is required. If you are ill, have a family emergency or other excused absence, you are to notify both your university instructor and the school. Vacations are not considered excused absences. Do not knowingly expose any school personnel or child to a contagious disease that may compromise the health of the p-12 students or staff.
- Demonstrate punctuality. Be on time. Try to avoid disrupting classes by arriving after classes have started or before a class is finished. If possible, arrive and leave during class changes or other transition times. It is understood that students may need exceptions due to conflicts between university time schedules and the field site time schedules. Notify your site and your university instructor/supervisor if you are going to be late. Sign in at the school office.
- Go to the school only at your assigned times unless you have specific permission for an alternative time approved by your university instructor.
- Make certain that any documentation/signatures regarding the completion of the field hours is completed as instructed.
- Observe all pre-K – 12 school policies and procedures (e.g. adhere to school parking rules, follow copy machine etiquette, etc.).
- Familiarize yourself with school disciplinary/medical/crisis procedures. If there is a question about your role, please seek clarification from the field site and/or the university instructor.
- If at any time you are uncertain about requests made from your classroom instructor, inform your university instructor immediately.
- Do not provide personal transportation to any p-12 students. Maintain professional boundaries at all times and do not arrange individualized, outside of school social activities with students or families.
- Wear your UA Student ID visibly at all times and be ready to produce this if you are questioned. Wear any identification badge as required by the school.
Dispositions and Courtesy
- Be courteous to ALL school personnel with whom you come in contact.
- When asked to participate in an activity other than one specifically aligned with your university assignment, accept the request graciously. If the request is over and above expectations, be courteous and inform your university instructor for resolution.
- Do not interrupt classes (e.g., when two or more university students are assigned to the same room, do not talk to each other or type on your laptop). Enter and leave the room quietly.
- Turn off your cell phone during your field experience.
- No food or beverages are permitted in schools or classrooms.
- Be aware that any information you post on public internet sites is available to future employers and colleagues. Therefore, discretion is advised.
Appearance and Dress
- It is required that the student demonstrate an appropriate professional appearance and demeanor at all times during the field experience. Consider each visit to the school as an informal “interview” for a teaching position.
- Attempt to dress and maintain hygiene in a manner consistent with the educators, staff and administrators at your field site. Business attire is generally an acceptable standard. For example, it is required that the following items are not worn in the field sites: shorts, short skirts (shorter than mid-thigh), sunglasses, hats, flip-flops, bedroom slippers or clothing that gives the impression of pajamas, jogging suits, garments that don’t meet in the middle and expose skin, any clothing with writing (other than small brand name logos or labels), any clothing that is too low, too short, too tight. (If you have to ask someone if your outfit is appropriate, it probably isn’t). If a field site teacher or administrator makes a recommendation regarding your manner of dress or hygiene, you are expected to cooperate to the best of your ability. Exceptions to these guidelines can be made with the approval of your university instructor.
- Certain exceptions to dress expectations can be made during field or student teaching for specific licensure areas such, but are not limited to, as physical education or intervention specialist with the approval of the cooperating teacher. Exceptions for certain activities such a field trips with young children can also be made with the approval of the cooperating teacher.
Legal and Ethical Issues
- University assignments related to these experiences must be written in a professional manner. While the assignment may require a description or analysis of teaching methods or other classroom variables as they relate to your course content, you are not to critique personal characteristics of administrators, teachers or students. You are not to make any statements that you cannot support with objective observational data. When writing reports, consider that what you write may be read by administrators, the teacher, other teachers or parents. If you use terms and content that is unprofessional and could be considered insulting, it should not be written. For example, you should not describe any child with terms such as “dirty, lazy, obnoxious” etc. Consult with your classroom instructor for suggestions regarding appropriate and professional writing if you are attempting to describe behaviors beyond the range expected of students in your particular setting.
- Confidentiality is a must. In your observation reports, omit names of teachers, children, school or district information so as to maintain a professional policy of confidentiality. In addition, you are not to informally share any identifiable or confidential information with outside individuals such as your friends or family. Please familiarize yourself with FERPA laws and how they apply to professional communication in the p-12 setting. You are not to take any student records outside of the field setting. You must obtain permission if you anticipate taking pictures of the students in your classrooms.
- Be aware that you are a mandated reporter. If a situation arises, inform your instructor, cooperating teacher and building administrator immediately; however, you remain obligated to report any incident of suspected abuse or neglect. You are also under an obligation to report any statements or behaviors that suggest possible harm to self or others. Consult with the building administrator immediately if you are aware of situations which pose the possibility of risk and inform your university instructor.
As stated previously above, the above requirements are not meant to include all possible situations or events that you may encounter when in your field settings. If any situations or events arise that give you cause for concern, consult with your university instructor and/or field site teacher or administrator for clarification and direction. In addition, if the school setting has policy requirements not listed above, The University of Akron student is expected to comply with those expectations. If discrepancies exist between UA and school policies, the student should inform The University of Akron instructor and seek resolution.