What is a Field Experience?
Field experiences are an integral part of the teacher education preparation program. They are designed to give students guided and controlled experiences with professionals in elementary and secondary schools.
Most classes offered within the School of Education require students to complete field experience assignments, including but not limited to: observation, small group interaction, case studies, and direct teaching. Field experience is integrated into course assignments, and the requirements and number of hours vary by course and program.
For students who are not full-time teachers and who need to complete field experience, the Clinical Practice Coordinator facilitates placements with local school districts and ensures that students have completed the necessary background check/fingerprinting process in order to be eligible for placement.
All students must submit the Online Field Experience Request Form (FERF) each semester they are participating in field experience. The deadline for fall placements is September 15 and the deadline for spring placements is February 15.
Note: The Clinical Practice Coordinator ONLY places students in public schools.
Submit a FERF if:
- You want to be placed in a public school and your program is not placing you. The Clinical Practice Coordinator will place you.
- Submit a FERF if you are a substitute teacher in a public school system. The Clinical Practice Coordinator will need to place you.
- Please note: If you are a site-based substitute, which means you only work at one school and have a contract with that school to be their daily substitute, please email Amanda Davis at email@example.com with the name of your school, explain that you are a site-based sub and that you are seeking permission to be placed at your school building. Do NOT submit a FERF until you hear back from Amanda. She will need to collect some additional details from you.
Do NOT submit a FERF if:
- You have found your own placement in a private school setting AND have the permission of your course instructor and the school’s administrator.
- You have found your own placement (NOT in a public school setting) AND have the permission of your course instructor, as well as the location where you want to conduct your field placement.
- You are a full-time, lead contractual teacher or IA AND have the permission of your instructor and building administrator to conduct your field placement in your OWN classroom.
Read and familiarize yourself with all field experience placement policies and procedures below.
- Verify which of your current courses require field experience.
- You may only submit the FERF one time per semester so you must include all of your courses that require hours.
- Please note: hours spent fulfilling one course’s field experience requirement CANNOT be double-counted to fulfill another course’s field experience requirement.
- Include your current address on the form. For example, if you are living on campus, enter your Mason address.
- Enter your Mason ID – this is the first part of your Mason email before the “@” sign.
- Important: make sure your email is correct – a confirmation email will be sent and is proof that you requested a placement; save this email.
- Check both your inbox and your junk mailbox for a confirmation email. If you do NOT receive a confirmation email, please email firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance.
- Determine how your field placement will be arranged - you have 3 choices:
- You are not a full-time contractual teacher - you will be placed by a Clinical Practice Coordinator.
- You are a full-time contractual teacher – you complete your placement in your own classroom.
- You can only secure your own placement if you are a full-time contractual teacher in your licensure area. If you are an IA (instructional assistant) you MUST email email@example.com to see if you are allowed to complete your FE in your classroom.
- Verify you are able to meet your field experience requirements in your classroom by consulting your syllabus and/or talking with your instructor(s) (this may include checking the accreditation/setting; grade level; student population, etc.).
- Secure permission from your administrator before beginning hours in your own classroom.
- Once you have permission from your administrator and instructor, you may begin completing your field hours.
- Complete your field experience (FE) outside of the school system. This means you CANNOT complete your FE in a public OR private school and are making your own arrangements.
- Important: If you are not a current full-time contractual teacher, you CANNOT contact local public or private schools or solicit field experience placements from educators you may know professionally. School districts DO NOT allow this.
- Students requesting placement should not contact local schools (public or private) or otherwise solicit field experience placements from educators they may know professionally.
- Repeated attempts to contact local schools, educators, or administrators to solicit field experience placements may result in the university and/or local school divisions not permitting access to school sites for field experiences.
- Field experience assignments will only be accepted for credit if the work has been done in an assigned or approved location.
- If you have limited transportation, i.e. you rely on public transportation, you must submit your field experience request AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE. You must select the box, “Check here if you do not have a car or have very limited transportation.”
- Once you submit your FERF form, you will not be able to make changes. If you need to update your information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- If you need to cancel your field experience for any reason, you will need to email the Clinical Practice Coordinator at email@example.com.
- View the Distance Placement Guidelines for Field Experience and Internships (PDF), for those to whom this is applicable.
You may be asking, what happens now? The Clinical Practice Coordinator or your program coordinator is working as quickly as possible to match your request/placement needs to schools who have volunteered to host Mason students for field hours. Please be patient. There are many moving parts to the placement process going on behind the scenes. It is not uncommon for it to take two weeks, or in some cases longer, for you to be matched.
- Once you submit your FERF application, you will receive an email from the Clinical Practice Coordinator on how to complete the next steps in the placement process, which includes the required background and fingerprinting process. Background instruction emails will be sent to your Mason email from firstname.lastname@example.org.
- While you wait to hear back, please monitor your Mason email frequently, including your junk mail folder. Sometimes emails get filtered into your spam folder!
- All school systems require students who have requested placement to complete fingerprinting and a criminal background check through the district’s human resources office (not George Mason University) prior to being eligible for field experience placement.
- Each school division has its own background check process and requirements for placement, so follow the instructions you receive from the Clinical Practice Coordinator carefully.
- School divisions do not share placement information or background check results. If you are placed in two different school divisions, you must complete the placement requirements for each division before beginning your hours.
- When completing background check paperwork, please include even the most minor infractions that may appear on your record – even if it was many years ago. Failure to do so, whether or not such incidents resulted in conviction, may result in the delay or denial of field experience placement. Many placement denials are the result of failure to disclose issues that would otherwise not have blocked a student’s placement.
- When you have completed all of the fingerprinting and background process, you must contact the Clinical Practice Coordinator in order to receive your placement location and contact information.
- When you receive your placement, please keep in mind:
- All field experience locations are final. Due to the volume of requests received, the Clinical Practice Coordinator cannot guarantee specific locations or placement within a certain distance. The best decision was made based on your location preference, your placement need, and school availability.
- Contact the host teacher or field experience contact right away. If you delay, it may result in the termination of your placement.
- When completing your field experience, please remember your professional dispositions.
- Schedule visits with your host teacher for mutually agreeable times. Please be mindful of your host teacher’s schedule. Do not show up unannounced.
Document completion of your field experience as noted in your syllabus and turn your log of hours form in to your instructor. Logs are not turned into the Office of Teacher Preparation. If you have any questions about how to document your field experience, please contact your instructor.
Questions about the field experience process should be directed to the Clinical Practice Coordinator at email@example.com.