School of Education - George Mason University

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.

The Teacher Track Office is responsible for tracking all field experience completed by students enrolled in School of Education courses. 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.

View the Distance Placement Guidelines for Field Experience and Internships, for those to whom this is applicable.

Field Experience Placement Process

All students must submit the Online Field Experience Registration 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*.

*Deadlines exclude classes that begin mid-semester. In these cases, additional guidance will be provided by your instructor.

Before submitting their form, students are responsible for familiarizing themselves with all field experience placement policies and procedures.

Before submitting your Online Field Experience Registration Form (FERF):

  • 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.
  • Determine how your placement will be arranged.
    • Are you a full-time contractual teacher in your licensure area?
      • If so, you will need to secure permission from your administrator to complete and verify your instructor allows this option before you can complete hours in your classroom.
    • Are you a full-time school employee (non-teaching position or teaching a subject outside of your licensure area)? This includes instructional assistants and long-term substitute teachers.
      • If so, you will need to contact the Clinical Practice Coordinator at fieldexp@gmu.edu to discuss the next steps before completing your FERF form. You must secure approval before submitting your FERF.
      • Short-term substitute teachers must request to be placed by the Clinical Practice Coordinator.
    • If you are not a current full-time school employee, you will need to request to be placed by the Clinical Practice Coordinator. Please note:
      • 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 indicate your need by checking the option on your online FERF form. Locations are not guaranteed.

When Filling out your FERF Form:

  • List all of your courses that require field experience 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. This information is used to aid in the placement process.
  • Please review and select the correct option for how you would like your placement to be arranged. If you choose incorrectly, you may not receive a placement.
  • Review your FERF form carefully before submitting it. Ensure all information, including your Mason ID (the first part of your email before the @) is correct.
  • You will receive an email confirmation to your Mason email after submitting your online FERF request.
    • Be sure to check your inbox and your spam folder. If you do not receive a confirmation email within one hour, your request did not go through and you will need to submit your request again. If you need assistance, please contact fieldexp@gmu.edu.
    • Keep your automatic email confirmation for your own records.
  • If you need to update your information after submitting your form, please contact the Clinical Practice Coordinator at fieldexp@gmu.edu.
    • Once your online FERF form is submitted, you will not be able to make changes. The Clinical Practice Coordinator will need to make the changes on your behalf.
  • If you need to cancel your field experience request for any reason, you must notify the Clinical Practice Coordinator right away at fieldexp@gmu.edu.
    • The Clinical Practice Coordinator is working quickly to place students in the order in which requests are received. If you no longer need a placement and do not reach out, you will still be placed and there will teacher wanting to hear from you. Please be kind and let us know as soon as your plans change.

After Submitting Your Online FERF Form:

If you requested to be placed by the Clinical Practice Coordinator or you are being placed by your academic program:

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.

  • When the Clinical Practice Coordinator or your program has identified an appropriate placement for you, you will receive an email with information 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 fieldexp@gmu.edu.
    • 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 their human resources office (not George Mason University) prior to being eligible for field experience placement.
    • Each school division has its own background 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.

If you are a full-time teacher or school employee:

  • As noted above, if you are a full-time school employee (non-teaching position, IA, or teaching a subject other than your licensure area), you must contact the Clinical Practice Coordinator at fieldexp@gmu.edu.
  • 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.
  • Document completion of your hours according to the instructions provided in your syllabus or by your instructor.

Documenting Completion of Your Field Experience Hours:

  • Document completion of your field experience as noted in your syllabus and turn your log of hours form into your instructor. Logs are not turned into the Teacher Track Office. If you have any questions about how to document your field experience, please contact your instructor.
  • General field documentation form: Field Experience Documentation Form

Questions about the field experience process should be directed to the Clinical Practice Coordinator at fieldexp@gmu.edu.