Begin main content

Michigan Teacher Resources

Academics / Departments & Programs / Education / Student Teaching / mentor-teacher-resources

Welcome to the team!

Thank you so much for your willingness to enter into this important relationship with us as we work to mentor a new teacher. You have been selected to work with a Calvin University teacher intern because you are a well-qualified member of the teaching profession. By accepting the responsibility for working with a teacher intern, you are assisting us in accomplishing our program vision, “Developing Responsive and Transformative Educators.” We are grateful that you are willing to provide opportunities for our students to meet these goals. We hope that you will find helpful strategies for that endeavor on this website. We encourage you to review the content carefully prior to your intern’s arrival.

We are eager to serve you and the teacher intern. Please contact any one of the people listed in the Resources section of this website if you have questions or concerns related to the student teaching internship or the teacher education program at Calvin University. We look forward to working as partners to develop excellent future educators.

Overview of the Student Teaching Internship

Benefits of Hosting a Student Teacher

The Student Teaching Internship - Schedule

Orientation of the Teacher Intern

The Teacher Intern in the Classroom

Planning Expectations for the Teacher Intern

Communicating with Your Teacher Intern

Communication with the University Supervisor

Evaluation of the Teacher Intern

Time Record for the Student Teaching Internship

Substitute Teaching Policy

Resources and Contacts


Overview of the Student Teaching Internship

The student teaching semester is a time for development. Your sensitivity to your teacher intern’s special strengths and need for improvement is a most valuable contribution. Your encouragement, advice, and example are prime contributors to a successful experience for the student teacher.

As we work with teacher interns, two things are essential: respect for one another and open communication. These qualities generate trust and confidence and communicate a concern for the other person’s feelings. A trusting professional relationship includes an awareness of the intern’s strengths and shortcomings, a belief that asking questions and learning from one another is acceptable, and an openness to explaining why teachers make particular decisions in order to promote the learning of all of their students. A trusting professional relationship will include affirmation, critique, and recommendations for change.

Benefits of Hosting a Student Teacher

    • As a mentor to a Calvin teacher intern, you will be invited to participate in a Mentor Teacher Course. This course allows for valuable collaboration with other mentors as you learn about skills and practices that foster healthy mentoring relationships with teacher interns or new colleagues.
    • Mentor Teachers are invited to attend a half-day conference providing professional development on current educational topics. The Calvin Education Program will cover conference fees.
    • Calvin Mentor Teachers earn 25 State Continuing Education Clock Hours providing the placement is at least eight weeks. Participation in the Mentor Course makes it possible to earn 10 additional hours. 
    • Reduced tuition for one Calvin graduate education course (50% off for 14-week mentors, 25% off for 7-week mentors).
    • Mentor teachers are part of the important process of preparing teachers who will be effective in their own classrooms from day one. They play a vital role in the development of the next generation of teachers.
    • Calvin faculty supervisors are actively involved in communicating expectations and providing support to interns and their mentor teachers.
    • By using the co-teaching model and relying upon interns for supplemental instruction, mentor teachers are able to offer more differentiated instruction than is possible with a single classroom teacher. Partnerships between schools and colleges have been associated with improved P-12 student learning and attendance.
    • Interns share the latest research-based strategies and ideas, which can refresh an experienced teacher’s practice.
    • As the intern takes on more responsibility in the classroom, it affords the mentor teacher time to work on long-range planning and special projects.
    • Principals are able to assess intern performance and make informed choices when hiring new teachers.

    The Student Teaching Internship - Schedule

    Elementary Student Teaching:

      • Teacher interns participate for 14 weeks of full day student teaching during which at least 90 hours must be in direct management of the learning environment. Students in the Early Childhood program may have a modified schedule.
      • Seminars for elementary interns, conducted by their university supervisors, will be held weekly. In these seminars, elementary teacher interns will discuss a variety of issues relating to teaching and learning. A final seminar day allows the interns to reflect on what they have learned and look forward to their first year of teaching. Seminar schedules are known at the beginning of each semester. 

    Secondary Student Teaching:

      • Teacher interns participate for either 14 weeks of full day student teaching or two seven-week sessions if they are in the K-12 art, PE, or music programs.
      • During this time, they are required to acquire at least 90 hours of direct management of the learning environment. 
      • Departmental Seminar in Secondary Teaching Methods: Additionally, the secondary teacher intern attends this weekly seminar to study the methods and curricular materials of his or her discipline.

    General Overview:
    Throughout the semester, there should be a gradual increase in teaching responsibility beginning with one subject and adding subject areas and classroom responsibilities until the appropriate time at which the student is expected to have full responsibility for the planning and directing of the school day. Observation of the mentor teacher in each subject area or class should occur before the intern takes on the responsibility of teaching that subject.

    The 14 week semester is usually divided as follows:

    1. One or two weeks of guided observation, curriculum review, and co-planning
    2. Co-teaching and co-planning with the gradual assumption by the teacher intern of a full time teaching load
    3. At least 2 weeks of full time teaching (which may be consecutive or may be divided depending on the mentor teacher and university supervisor preference)
    4. Gradual return of full time teaching responsibilities to the teacher
    5. Observation in other classrooms including those in other schools

    Please note: We recommend that the student have one or two days of full-time teaching prior to the midpoint of the semester. This may be in addition to the two weeks. Sample schedules on this website may be helpful for you as you design a schedule with your intern.

    The two 7-week semesters (Art, PE, Music) follow the same progression with a minimum of one week of full-time teaching in each placement and a more accelerated pace of taking on lead teaching responsibilities.

    Outside obligations for teacher interns: 

      • The university has strongly encouraged the interns to keep the student teaching semester free of outside obligations, such as employment and extra-curricular activities. However, the university encourages involvement in activities that enhance the school community, such as attending sports, music, and drama events, or assisting with school events, PTA meetings, skating parties, and the like. 
      • Interns will also be attending seminars at Calvin which pertain to the student teaching semester. The schedule for these events will be available. There will also be classroom related assignments that will need to be completed. 
      • Should concerns related to outside obligations occur, the mentor teacher is urged to discuss concerns with the teacher intern initially. If concerns persist, the mentor teacher should then include the university supervisor in the conversation.

    Other attendance notes:
    The teacher intern will participate in the full-day schedule of the mentor teacher with several exceptions:

      • The intern is allowed up to two days for job interviews during the semester.  These are to be arranged in advance with the mentor teacher.
      • Each teacher intern is required to attend the Fire-Up Student Teacher Conference.  It is an all-day conference held at a local college or university each semester (For local students only).
      • Elementary education interns are required to attend seminars that may require early dismissal. The intern will communicate these dates early in the semester.

    Orientation of the Teacher Intern

    Moving from the role of a university student to that of a teacher intern is a significant adjustment.  The mentor teacher can provide a measure of security for the teacher intern during this adjustment.

    Prior to being assigned to a mentor teacher:

      • The placement of each intern is made only after much thought.  The Leadership Team considers prior experience and certification needs of the teacher intern.  Additionally, after conducting interviews with all interns, efforts are made to carefully pair each mentor teacher with an appropriate teacher intern. 
      • Once assigned to a mentor teacher and classroom, teacher interns are expected to initiate contact with their assigned mentor teacher to schedule an interview. Often, building administrators will participate in this initial interview also. 
      • Following a successful interview, placements are confirmed. 

    Prior to participating in the classroom:

      • It is important for the teacher interns to have an orientation conference with both the mentor teacher and principal before classroom activities begin.
      • As a temporary staff member, the teacher intern needs to know the major building policies and procedures in order to adjust quickly to the school routine.  Handbooks, schedules and other school materials should be made available to the intern at this time, and the teacher intern will need to be thoroughly briefed on all school policies.
      • It is also helpful to take the teacher intern on a tour of the building and introduce him/her to other staff members during a staff meeting or recess break.
      • Prior to meeting the class, it is helpful to address the following topics: 
        • class organization
        • daily programs and schedules
        • seating arrangements and a class list
        • procedures when absent
        • an appropriate work area for the student intern in your classroom (e.g. separate desk or table)
        • general organization of the instructional program
        • copies of the teaching materials used in the class
        • special needs of particular students
        • your management structures and strategies

    Much of the intern’s success will depend upon how quickly he or she feels at ease as a member of the school staff. Your role in helping the teacher intern feel accepted as a co-worker is important. Please continue to provide opportunities for asking questions. Asking questions is part of the learning process. 

    Orienting Your Class to the Teacher Intern:

    Acceptance by the class establishes a positive beginning for the teacher intern. Your efforts will facilitate the relationship building process between your students and the intern. How you inform students about the student teaching process depends on several factors:

      • the age and maturity of your students
      • whether or not this will be their first experience with a teacher intern
      • your initial and ongoing expectations for the teacher intern

    Please note: It works well to introduce the teacher intern as a co-teacher and professional colleague and to discuss with the students how each of them can contribute to the experience in a positive, tangible way.

    The Teacher Intern in the Classroom

    Initial Responsibilities:
    The teacher intern can begin by observing the class and the mentor teacher at work.  The length of the observation period varies with each individual, depending upon previous experience, security, and quickness to grasp the scope of the instructional program. In order that the teacher intern may profit most from these observations, you may encourage him/her to: 

      • Watch for specific methods and procedures of instruction (how a learning activity is introduced, skill in questioning, differentiation as to assignments, techniques of class organization and management, routine procedures which are followed, and the like).
      • Learn the students’ names within the first few days by using seating charts.
      • Study the growth patterns of the students, the learning process, individual differences, and emotional aspects of individual behavior.
      • Observe individual students (Elementary interns will be completing individual student profiles which should be started early in the experience).
      • Observe and learn classroom procedures and routines. 
      • Watch for classroom management strategies, techniques, and principles.

    Important things you can do early in the experience to help your teacher intern:

      • Provide him/her with copies of teacher letters, home bulletins, and school mission statements to enhance understanding of the instructional program, school climate, and goals.
      • Encourage your intern to move about the classroom as students work independently. This provides opportunity to develop relationships with the class and present the teacher intern as a co-worker.
      • Encourage the intern to review curriculum guides, as well as your individual lesson plans and instructional objectives of previous teaching units, to gain a perspective on curriculum level and sequence of content and objectives.

    Assuming the Role of Teacher:
    Readiness for your teacher intern to assume teaching responsibilities will be determined by some of the factors listed below:

      • Effective participation in co-teaching and co-planning activities
      • Adequate preliminary planning
      • Eagerness to assume more responsibility
      • A confident demeanor
      • Extent of experiences prior to student teaching

    After your intern observes for at least a week, he or she will develop confidence more rapidly if allowed to assume some routine activities. The manner in which these assignments are carried out may indicate his/her state of readiness for more complex teaching-learning experiences:

      • Reading to the class
      • Working with students on displays
      • Creating exhibits related to a unit being taught
      • Helping individual students to do reference work or assist with special problems
      • Teaching, facilitating, or finding resources for a small group
      • Monitoring or leading students from one area to another
      • Beginning to research materials for units he or she will be teaching
      • Exploring the school and community for resources, including the school media center

    Since the teacher intern should have a gradual introduction to teaching, Calvin University does not encourage the interns to assume the full role of a teacher during the early stages of directed teaching.  For the secondary intern, this generally means that he or she starts by assuming the responsibility for one class period and gradually adds more classes, based on readiness.   For the elementary intern, this generally means assuming the responsibility for one subject at a time, gradually adding more responsibilities until reaching full-time teaching. 

    Full-time teaching responsibilities:
    Teacher interns are expected to be responsible for planning and instruction in their classrooms on a full-time basis for a minimum of two weeks during the student teaching semester. This may occur during two consecutive weeks or may be divided in a variety of ways depending on the preference of the mentor teacher and teacher intern. Full-time teaching responsibilities usually occur toward the end of the student teaching semester. It should be noted, however, that it is sometimes helpful if prior to the midpoint of the semester, the teacher intern has had the opportunity to do a few days of full-time teaching. The full-time student teaching dates should be determined in consultation with the university supervisor.

    Hints for creating a semester schedule with your intern:

      • It is important that you develop a schedule that is appropriate for you, your teacher intern, and your students.
      • Flexibility in response to the various factors impacting the plan is key. Revisions are very common throughout the semester.
      • We suggest that the teacher intern assume all teacher responsibilities for one full day in the classroom prior to the mid-point.  This often helps the intern identify areas needing further observation before being ready for full time teaching.
      • Some teams find it most helpful and effective to take a co-teaching approach.  Please allow your teacher intern the opportunity to take the lead in the planning and instruction for the team if you are most comfortable with this option.
      • There are many variations to a semester schedule. You will find a variety of samples at the link below. Please note that some are appropriate for elementary interns while others more fitting for a secondary intern. Teams should feel comfortable adjusting the schedules so they are appropriate for the given circumstances.
      • University supervisors are happy to consult in the creation of a semester schedule. 
      • Please be sure to communicate revisions to the university supervisor as they occur.

    Sample semester schedules - Elementary

    Sample semester schedule - Secondary

    Planning Expectations for the Teacher Intern

    It is important to recognize that while an experienced teacher often works effectively with less detailed written lesson plans, the teacher intern needs to plan in great detail to ensure high-quality instruction. Effective teaching requires effective planning. Planning provides interns with opportunities to appraise methods, approaches, materials to be used, and establish assessment criteria prior to teaching. 

    Long-Term Planning:
    Within the first two weeks of the semester, construct a written calendar of teaching responsibilities for the semester, as well as proposed content responsibility. Model for the teacher intern how you determine what content to address and how much time to allocate for particular content.

    Weekly Planning:
    Supervision and considerable guidance are needed to enable the teacher intern to learn to plan effectively for multiple subject areas or classes in a particular classroom with particular students. It is very helpful to begin by co-planning with your intern. Talk through how you organize your week and determine what to teach and when to teach it. Discuss why you organize your week in certain ways and what you do when you can’t “get to” everything you planned. Discuss how you adapt your plans based on the learners’ responses and how this affects your planning for the following week. Have the teacher intern keep a plan book in a similar format to yours to facilitate the co-planning process.

    Unit Planning:
    Teacher interns are expected not only to plan for individual lessons for a given day but also have opportunities to plan and teach units of instruction. They should be responsible for planning at least one unit in detail (note expanded unit plan assignment) but may be required to plan multiple units over the course of the semester.

    Daily Lesson Planning: Teacher interns are required to write lesson plans for each lesson they teach. They should already be familiar with the general principles of writing and implementing good lesson plans but may need assistance in planning for your particular setting. Interns will begin with more detailed plans and will move on to less detailed plans as they become more experienced with the students and curriculum. The teacher intern is required to submit written lesson plans, following a prescribed format, to you at least one day prior to teaching, and to keep the plans sequenced and dated in an organized fashion for ready perusal by you and the university supervisor. Reviewing written plans with your intern is very important, especially early in the experience. Written comments can also be very helpful.

    Lesson Planning Form

    Communicating with Your Teacher Intern

    The university assumes that you will discuss classroom experience regularly since much of your intern’s professional growth will come from conversations with you about teaching practices. Finding time for regularly scheduled conferences is important. Setting aside a specific planning time each week can greatly facilitate the teacher intern’s learning. Conversations may focus on understanding particular students, curriculum, instructional issues, or the school context.
    During these regularly scheduled conversations, please explain the reasons for your practices.  Review the teaching that he or she has observed. Many of the things you do, the decisions you make, and the goals you set are done automatically because you draw upon your experience and knowledge. Your teacher intern learns greatly from having your teaching choices explained.

    The following strategies may help you communicate effectively with your intern:

      • Have an agenda — having a purpose for the conversation allows focus and good use of time.
      • Give ample time for the student to ask questions and make suggestions.
      • Assist the intern in identifying what he or she is doing well in addition to giving suggestions for improvement.
      • Encourage the teacher intern to reflect on his or her own practice: Ask questions such as:
        • How did the students respond to your instruction? What did they learn? How do you know?
        • Did your lesson accomplish what you wanted it to accomplish? Why or why not?
        • Which conditions/experiences helped the students accomplish the lesson goals?
        • What were the strengths of the lesson? What might have made it better?
        • How might you use what you learned about the students today to teach more effectively tomorrow?
      • Give specific feedback. Refer back to particular parts of the lesson and give examples if possible.

    Talking Points

    Communication with the University Supervisor

    Communication between the university supervisor and the teacher intern:

      • Throughout the semester long internship, the teacher candidate will be observed regularly by the university supervisor. Typically, the university supervisor will make five or six formal observations. Observations allow the supervisor to see the intern leading instruction, but also provide space to assist the intern in reflecting on one particular example of his/her teaching. 
      • If possible, the university supervisor will schedule a conference with the teacher intern following each observation. Please assist your teacher intern in arranging these conferences. This time is important as it is an opportunity to foster reflection and also to answer questions, troubleshoot challenges, and share successes.  
      • At the midpoint of the semester, the university supervisor will schedule a conference with the teacher intern and mentor teacher to review development and progress. Typically, this midpoint conference includes review of the midpoint evaluation completed by the mentor teacher and student intern. 
      • A final conference is also scheduled at the conclusion of the semester. 

    Communication between the university supervisor and the mentor teacher:

      • Prior to the semester, the mentor teacher is invited to attend an orientation meeting for mentor teachers. During this time, mentor teachers and university supervisors will be introduced. Additionally, many expectations and responsibilities will be reviewed.
      • Early in the semester, the university supervisor will also initiate contact with the mentor teacher. Contact information and preferences should be exchanged to facilitate regular communication. 
      • The university supervisor will confer with the mentor teacher whenever possible and will be readily available at regularly scheduled visits, by phone, or by email. The school principal is also welcome to confer with the student teacher and university supervisor whenever desired.
      • Mentor teachers are encouraged to communicate regularly and honestly with the university supervisor so that success may be celebrated and concerns may be addressed. Often, face-to-face communication fosters transmission of a clear message. It is important for these honest conversations to occur regularly throughout the semester. 

    Evaluation of the Teacher Intern

    Our teacher interns have multiple opportunities to demonstrate their competence in meeting program goals throughout the semester. Interns plan lessons and units, design classroom management plans, and complete other assignments that allow them to demonstrate their ability to structure teaching and learning situations that promote the learning of all students. They are observed regularly by the university supervisor and their mentor teacher and receive written feedback on their teaching. In addition, the mentor teacher, university supervisor, and teacher intern all complete a detailed evaluation form that focuses on performance of program goals. This form is completed at the midpoint of the experience and again at the completion of the semester.

    The Evaluation form for Mentor Teachers is available online — select the appropriate form.

      • Mid-Term Evaluation Form:

    The mentor teacher completes the midterm evaluation, sends it electronically to the Education Department, reviews it with the teacher intern, and shares it with the university supervisor.

      • Final Evaluation Form:

    The mentor teacher completes the final evaluation form during the final weeks that the teacher intern is in the classroom, sends it electronically to the Education Department, reviews it with the intern, and shares it with the university supervisor. This evaluation will be filed in the Education Department and also serves as your recommendation which may be shared with prospective employers.

      • Evaluations for seven week placements: (K-12 Art, PE, Music)

    The mentor teacher will complete the midterm evaluation at the four week point and use it as an informal review with the student. This form will also be shared with the university supervisor. It does NOT need to be forwarded to the Education Department.

    The final evaluation, which is due at the conclusion of the 7 week experience, will be completed by the mentor teacher, shared with the teacher intern, and the university supervisor and sent electronically to the Education Department. 

    Support documents for the evaluation form:

    Final Grade:
    The university supervisor may consult with you when determining the final grade for the teacher intern.

    Time Record for the Student Teaching Internship

    A record of both the amount and kind of time your teacher intern spends in your school is needed by the State Department of Education as a permanent record of the student’s clinical experience.  Your intern is responsible for completing the Time Record, but you must sign it.  On the Time Record Sheet, the student teaching hours are divided into two categories, Teaching (minimum 90 hours) and Participation. 

      • Teaching refers to educational activities during which the intern is directly involved with students. While those activities include tutoring and small group activities, it is important that a substantial portion of the 90 required hours be in situations where the student teacher has responsibility for and direction of the entire class. 
      • Participation encompasses all non-teaching, school day, professional-related activities. 
      • The term “hours” should be interpreted as class periods at secondary level, but a clock hour at the elementary level.

    Substitute Teaching Policy

    In general, Calvin University discourages the use of teacher interns as regular substitute teachers. Since the purpose of student teaching is to provide an opportunity for a novice teacher to work closely with an experienced teacher for an extended period of time, the teacher intern should be working in a supervised teaching situation as much as possible. However, there are times when an intern may be called upon to perform the duties of a substitute teacher, and the university is willing to allow this to happen provided the following conditions are met:

      • A teacher intern may only substitute in his or her assigned classroom, not other classes. If there is an emergency need for a substitute teacher in another class, the mentor teacher should take that class while the intern remains in his or her regular setting.
      • Teacher interns must qualify for substitute teaching according to district guidelines (They must be legally qualified to substitute in that district or school).
      • The university supervisor, mentor teacher and teacher intern must agree that the intern is ready to substitute before he or she may take on that responsibility. Interns must report any substitute teaching they do to their university supervisor.
      • Decisions about payment of teacher interns for substitute teaching are up to the school district or building principal (Guidelines: Occasional partial day commitments such as the Cooperating Teachers’ Conference or curriculum committee meetings do not require substitute pay. Substitute pay is appropriate for full day substituting or multiple half day commitments).
      • The amount of substitute teaching an intern is asked to do should remain very limited throughout the semester. Teacher interns should not substitute more than five days throughout the semester unless special permission is obtained to do more.
      • University supervisors are to monitor the amount of substitute teaching the teacher interns do and report it to the Director of Teacher Education at the end of the semester. If interns are asked to do more than five days of substitute teaching throughout the semester or if they are frequently asked to substitute for their teachers without compensation, this should be reported immediately.

    Resources and Contact Information


    Contact Information: 

    Dean of Education
    Dr. Jim Rooks

    Elementary Internships
    Jane Genzink

    Off-Site Internships and Secondary Internships
    Gwen Buteyn

    Online Evaluation Form Technical Assistance
    Shari Brouwer

    Take the next step:


    The latest sights & sounds | #calvinuniversity

    Female student wading in Plaster Creek, examining a sample of water, holding it up to the sky.


    With over 100 majors and programs, you’re bound to find something you love.

    Browse by category

    A dramatic view looking up at the Calvin's Crossing bridge, with a perfect blue sky overhead.

    Apply to Calvin

    It all starts here! We accept applications on a rolling basis throughout the year. All completed applications receive equal consideration.

    Start your journey × CLOSE DRAWER
    A female and male student walking side by side down the Calvin's Crossing bridge, conversing with each other.

    Visit Calvin

    Find the visit option that works best for you and get a taste for life at Calvin!

    Browse Visit Options Launch the virtual tour × CLOSE DRAWER
    Students huddled around, lighting sparklers with a beautiful evening sky behind them.

    Request Info

    Learn why Calvin’s dedication to faith and discovery have earned it the rank of #3 among regional midwest universities.

    Graduates in their robes, tossing their caps high into the air, laughing.

    Costs & Financial Aid

    Families from all economic backgrounds—many just like yours—are making Calvin work. Scholarships, grants and loans are the tools that make Calvin possible.

    Explore financial aid & Scholarships How much does Calvin cost? × CLOSE DRAWER