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Student Teaching FAQ’s

Updates for 2022-2023 Student Teachers

Placement processes, like life continuously evolves. Important updates for students applying for their Clinical Placement II (for ECE-SPED, your CPI course is considered a full time placement CPII):

  • Do not send any clearance attachments to the STEP@email.tcnj account. Post every document in Livetext.
  • Where possible, students will be notified in advance of the district where the initial placement will be sent. Depending on the district, you may be required to submit all clearances in advance.
  • Be prepared to transfer your prints multiple times, as we cannot guarantee a that a teacher can be found in a district. We will make every effort to keep the number of transfers to a minimum.
  • It is now mandated that the student teachers show proof that they are fully vaccinated (as of 2022, that includes booster shot).
  • It is essential that you obtain a Substitute Certification. This will increase our ability to place you quicker in more districts. If you need financial assistance to pay for exams and certifications, you can apply for one of the School of Education Scholarships. Inquire of details from the Director of the STEP Office.
  • Fall classes at TCNJ start before the official school year for some schools. Many schools start after Labor Day, so make sure to reach out to the principals and teachers to learn of your official start date. It differs by districts.

 

 

1. I don’t have a LiveText Account! How do I get one?

If you do not have a LiveText Account, please email Mr. Corey Drake at drakec1@tcnj.edu.

 

2. How do I Transfer my Prints to a District?

 Click here if you need to transfer your prints to a district. Please note that you will not be able to transfer your prints if you were not fingerprinted with “substitute teacher” listed as the job category. Here is the list of District and County codes that you will need to complete the transfer request. It generally takes 24-72 hours for your prints to be transferred. You will not receive a notification when they are completed. Once the transfer is complete, download the criminal history/applicant approval employment history form (Office of Student Protection Status), Districts require that we show proof of the transfer. The district must be on the top line of your criminal history form.

This is a picture of the correct document to download and save as a pdf document. Please attach a copy in LiveText.
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3. How do I load my documents into LiveText?

 Click the link for step by step instruction on how to post your documents to LiveTextTake your time and follow the directions exactly as written. Documents should be loaded as pdf under one blank portfolio. If pdf documents are not properly named and shared they cannot be viewed by the placement officer. Documents, not receipts need to be posted (i.e criminal history form, TB results, Sub Certs, District Applications, Health/Physical Form, Child Abuse, vaccination, documents of any kind).

Click here to view the LiveText Instructional Video 

Click here to view the entire Livetext Guides and Video Library

Remember, that the office may not be able to see the documents that you see. Common errors include:

  1. Forgetting to name your blank portfolio. If you do not see your name, TCNJ ID document submission in the top left hand corner page in red  (where it may read documentation), Then your document is not visible to the STEP Office. To correct the error, click on Document Properties (middle of page to the right), and name your document per the instructions, and click on save. When you see your name, TCNJ ID and Document Submission in the top left corner in red, then you did this correctly. This is the number one error.
  2. Students forgetting to share the document with editor access to STEPLIVETEXT. Once it’s shared, it will indicate that you successfully shared this information with the office.
  3. Students make multiple portfolio’s, but you only need one. Condense all documents into one portfolio.
  4. Students do not name their documents properly (i.e. last name_first name, TB test).
  5. Documents loaded are not pdf and can not be viewed. Please make sure to print or save as a pdf and none pdf extensions including (pneg, png, docx, jpeg, gif, heic)
  6. Files were placed in File Manager, instead of LiveText Docs and are not viewable by the office.

 

4. I do not have a placement yet. May I call districts to inquire about them hosting me?

 No. Please do not contact districts on your own. Each district has very clear policies and procedures that the college must follow in placing students. Circumventing these procedures may endanger the college’s relationship with that district.

 

5. How will I be notified that my Criminal History report is ready? 

You will not receive any notification from Indentogo. Approximately two weeks (or 14 days) after you are fingerprinted, you will be able to download your Criminal History Report. You will need to provide your SSN and birthdate https://homeroom5.doe.state.nj.us/chrs18/?app-emp-history to get your results. The form below is the only acceptable version to submit on Livetext. Make sure to verify that the District and County codes for the district you will be teaching in is on the top line.

You will be able to download and save the document as a pdf.  Please attach a copy in LiveText. 

 

STEP

6. Will I have to be fully vaccinated to complete CPII?

 The College of New Jersey has assured superintendents and principals that all TCNJ students, including student teachers, will be required to follow TCNJ’s policy on vaccinations. As stated in the college policy, any student who is not vaccinated will need to seek a medical or religious exemption. If you have been granted a medical or religious exemption from the vaccine and are participating in or wish to participate in a clinical rotation (e.g., at a hospital) or student teaching assignment at an off-campus site (collectively, a “Field Experience”) you must, in addition to the above requirements, comply with the requirements for the district (or off-campus site).

Students will have to acknowledge and accept that having an unvaccinated status may limit or even eliminate options for them to complete a field experience.  This may impede or prevent successful completion of a degree program and/or licensure in a particular discipline or profession.

We are not sure how this will impact your ability to enter schools. Districts are still crafting their policies and there is a possibility that you will not be able to complete your requirements because you will not be able to attend practicum.

Students should refer to the official TCNJ Policy for details concerning the COVID Vaccination Requirement: COVID-19 STUDENT VACCINATION SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS

 

7. How do I apply for student teaching?

 If you were not able to make the orientation session for your department, try to attend another session. Orientation session dates will be listed on our homepage. You can attend any session, but special instructions by major are provided in specific sessions. See your STEP Program Coordinators for those details. If you still aren’t able to attend a session or none is being offered, click here for the Orientation to Student Teaching Video. If you want to skip to certain parts of the orientation, I make a note here (Overview starts 1.00, STEP Application starts at 31.00, Livetext Instructions start at 39.40, and Certification Office -prints and sub cert start at 47.47)

There are two student teaching applications that students must complete:

  1. The STEP Online Application: (refer to FAQ#8 for issues submitting application) This is the database from which the placement letter is generated. Students will be able to apply for a placement for multiple semesters, and Global Student Teaching in the STEP system. Note: Students will be able to make changes in their profile, however, they will not be able to make any changes to the semester or residency location during student teaching once the application is submitted. There is no need to apply multiple times, if you make a mistake, email step@tcnj.edu with the details and we will make the corrections for you.
  2. The Qualtrics Application: This application was created to collect more information that is accurate from students. It was also created as a more efficient way for STEP Program Coordinators to approve student teaching applications. There will be separate links for each semester of student teaching.  Please be sure to carefully complete the application for the correct semester. The link to this application will be updated every year. Please do not complete more than one application. If you make a mistake, email step@tcnj.edu with the details and we will make the corrections for you.

Applications are always being accepted. However, applications that are received after priority deadlines can result in a late placement. Students beginning placements later than the start of the school semester, may also have to extend their time in the district.

You should submit your online application and documentation (Resume, Transcript, TB results, Fingerprinting and Criminal Background Check, sub cert) in LiveText at the same time that you complete the Qualtrics Form.

If you still have questions after reviewing the PowerPoint, handout and these FAQs, you can send an email to the STEP Office

 

8. Why can’t submit the STEP application?

  The current STEP database is antiquated and asks for information you may not have or even know yet. Students who did not have practicums in MST/MTT or know their placements for CPI, should not worry. You will need to provide answers for every placement location, even if you didn’t complete that particular placement. You will not be able to submit your application if you do not

We use the STEP database to generate your placement request letter, assign supervisors, and notify your faculty of the district, school and teacher you will be placed with. We do not use this particular information from the system for your placement.

Applying in the STEP database will not trigger the placement officer to find you a placement. Applying in the Qualtrics Application will let us know that you are in need of a placement in a particular semester. You will be able to provide more accurate information in the Qualtrics Survey (Forms for Students or in FAQ#7). When attempting to place you, we work from the information listed in this application and your resume. Use your official TCNJ email address on your resume and not your personal email for this process.

 

9. My residency during student teaching changed, what do I do?

 Due to life circumstances, a student’s residency during student teaching may change from what they put on their application. If you move please tell us about the change as soon as you can. We depend on the kindness of teachers and district to host you. It is not ideal to remove a student from placement after they have been placed. This can jeopardize our relationship with the district and future placements by removing you after a placement has been made.

 

10. I have special circumstances that need to be considered.

 If you have a special circumstance that need to be taken under consideration, please let us know on your application, or as soon as feasibly possible. Some students have health concerns, financial hardship, clubs/organizations responsibilities or transportation needs that must be considered before a placement. Students should make a note on the application that is submitted to their STEP Program Coordinators or email the STEP Office with any special circumstances BEFORE the placement process begins. We have a greater opportunity to make this accommodation work when notified in advance. If you have a specific hardship, speak to the STEP Office. If we cannot negotiate mutually acceptable placement location, then you will be asked to schedule an appointment with your program coordinator and complete a Hardship Waiver. If approved, we will place you within the confines of that approval.

 

11. My GPA is under 3.00. Can I still student teach?

 If your GPA is between 2.750 and 2.999, you can participate in student teaching. You will need to get permission from your academic department and sign a GPA Waiver Form stating that you understand that you cannot and will not be recommended for teacher certification by TCNJ until you raise your GPA to the state minimum of 3.00. Students with GPA under 2.750 will not be allowed to student teach. However, some districts will not accept students with a GPA below a 3.0 as student teachers. We will find you a placement, but it may take longer.

 

12. I need a Universal Fingerprint Form and don’t know where to find that form. Can you help me?

 You have to complete a criminal background check form with the State of New Jersey to get the Universal Fingerprinting Form. It will be emailed to you after completing your criminal background application. You can go to the Clearances Required page of our website and follow the directions under Criminal Background and Fingerprinting. You can also see step by step instructions on the TCNJ Certification Office webpage under Clearances.

 

13. I thought we would be placed 35 miles from our home address, not 35 miles from TCNJ?

 You will be placed within 35 miles of TCNJ. All students must be accessible to the field supervisors who travel to their site to evaluate them.  All students must be accessible to the field supervisors who must travel to their site to evaluate them. If you need to live at home, you are encouraged to meet with your STEP Program Coordinators to see if they can provide a supervisor near your home.  If they are able to accommodate your request, you will need to submit the hardship waiver forms (available here)  If your program coordinator is not able to find a supervisor close to your home, you will have to be placed in a district that may be closer to TCNJ and further from your home.

 

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14. Who do I talk to for questions concerning student teaching and certification?

 There are many people here to help answer your questions. Please use this guide to help decide which office to contact regarding your question.

1. If this is a question about your substitute certificate, fingerprinting or criminal background, visit their website or contact the Certification Office for clarity at certification@tcnj.edu

2. Questions about the student teaching process, requirements, or questions on student teaching timeline or placement for Clinical Practice II (full time student teaching) questions, view this website, the handbook, or send an email to STEP@tcnj.edu  .

3. If your question concerns stipend payments to cooperating teachers, contact the main office at 609-771-2408, STEP@tcnj.edu or Ms. Carla Woodward at Varlese@tcnj.edu.

4. Questions on the academic component of your practicum experiences and practices should be directed to your STEP Program Coordinators

Please note: due to FERPA’s confidentiality regulations, college administrators are not allowed to speak with parents about student matters if the student is over 18 years of age.

 

15. Why haven’t I heard anything about my placement?

 After student teacher placement requests are sent to school districts, we have to wait for a response. Some districts are able to place students quicker than others. At the end of every school year, teachers and principals may be moved to different schools. In those cases, we have to wait for approvals until the principals and teachers know where they will be placed the following year. This means that some approvals will not come until August. TCNJ starts in August, but a large majority of schools start in September. Be patient with the process, and do your part to get and post all your clearance documents.

Additionally, most boards of education only meet once a month. Therefore, once a school accepts your placement, it may take several more weeks for board approval. Some districts will not put you up for approval with out all documentation. If you miss the deadline, you are likely to have to wait a month for that approval.

To follow the districts where the placement officer is sending you, go into the STEP database and under my applications you will see where you are pending.  It will read pending until you are placed. If we are unable to send you to the first district, we will make a note and continue to forward a request to other districts. We have a 100% placement rate.

 

16. Will I be able to work in a variety of diverse settings?

 Our goal is to provide students with a variety of placements so that they can experience various grade levels and schools and learn from a number of in-service teachers. We believe that teachers trained in working with students of diverse backgrounds including, race, gender, ability, socioeconomic status, are better equipped to teach in our increasingly diverse society. Students in TCNJ Teacher Education programs will complete one of their clinical placements (CP1 or CP2) in an urban district and one in a suburban/rural district.

 

17. How often do I need to get a TB test?

 It depends on the district. Some districts require you to submit negative TB results no older than one year, while others may require them to be no older than 3 or 6 months. However, we prefer to err on the safe side and ask students to get their TB test for CP2 placement in April or May for a Fall placement and September or October for a Spring placement. The Health Center at TCNJ holds a TB clinic every semester for a minimal cost.

 

18. How do I apply for a Substitute Certificate? 

 Detailed information on how to get a Substitute Certificate (sub cert) can be found on the Certification Office Webpage.

 

19. What does it mean when the STEP status shows that I was rejected by a district?

As you check for your placement status in the STEP Database there are a few terms that you want understand. If the district status shows pending, then your application is in process of being sent to a particular district, or has actually been sent. If the status reads rejected, it means the district was not able to find a placement for you. To help you follow where request letters were sent on your behalf, we keep this information viewable until a placement is found.

 

20. I have an approved placement, but the STEP status still says pending. What should I do?

The STEP database is not always updated as quickly as the information sent to students in an email. If you received an email with final instructions that email trumps what is in the database. You can always email the STEP office account for clarity, if needed. 

 

21. Where do I send my Praxis Results? 

Students registering for CPII must have passed the Praxis core. Prior to placement, students must take the Praxis test for their major/program. As the office does not send your Praxis scores to the district, we do not need to collect your results. That information should be sent to your department’s STEP Program Coordinators as failure to pass a section can result in your placement being placed on hold. Students should reach out to their program coordinator or the Certification Office for questions about Praxis. 

 

22. I have a placement. What are my next steps?

When you receive an email notifying you that a placement has been found for you, read the email thoroughly for your next steps. In some cases, the district may have accepted your placement but has not identified a cooperating teacher. Many districts have additional requirements, such as interviews or district specific forms that need to be completed. Some districts require all of your paperwork to be completed BEFORE your name is placed on the board agenda for final approval. Other districts will board approve you, but you cannot begin your placement until all forms have been received and approved.

DO NOT wait until the last minute to do your part, as it may significantly delay your start date. If you start your placement late, you may be required to extend it to make up for the missed time. If your placement starts significantly late because you failed to submit the proper paperwork, you may need to withdraw from Clinical II and complete it the next semester. It is important that you take the initiative to do your part without expecting the office to send you reminder emails. Meeting deadlines and responding promptly to emails is an important part of your professional responsibilities during Clinical II and in your career.

Some things to remember and consider once a placement is found

  1. Read the email thoroughly, sometimes twice to make sure you understand your next steps. If additional forms or an interview is requested, you may need to contact the district, or the district rep will reach out to you. Be prepared to answer your phone and check your email on a regular basis. Refer to the FAQ page for directions to transfer your fingerprints, or the Certification Office website to obtain a sub cert, which ideally should be obtained at the beginning of your Clinical I course. 
  2. TB tests should be no older than 1 year old from the starting month of Clinical II. Check the dates of the TB test that you posted in Livetext and post an updated version if needed. 
  3. Certain districts require a TB no older than 6 months from the start of your placement. Again, check dates and respond accordingly.
  4. District Board meetings are usually once a month. Completed paperwork is usually due 2-3 weeks in advance of the meeting to get you on the agenda. If you miss the deadline for a board meeting, it could delay your start date for a month.
  5. Contact your cooperating teacher regarding your start date, and to arrange a visit to the school prior to your first day. Some TCNJ academic programs start the semester with a few days of orientation on campus before Clinical II students begin their placements. Please be sure to clearly communicate with your cooperating teacher when you will begin. For fall placements, remember that teachers are on summer vacation and may not be checking their email regularly. Principals, however, work 12 months. If you don’t get an answer from your cooperating teacher, check to make sure you have the correct email address and email them again. If you do not receive a reply to your second email, follow up with a call, and/or contact the principal and copy our office email (step@tcnj.edu). 
  6. Refer to our website for information to make sure you are up to date with any changes: FAQ’s, Overview of Placement Process, and Forms for Students. Refer your teachers to the site for information as well. 
  7. Remind your teachers that they have to complete 1) a stipend form to be paid in the same semester of service, and 2) a midterm and/or a final performance evaluation through Livetext. Sometimes the teacher forgets, or they do not receive our emails. Please remind them that any information they need will be posted on our website.

 

23. Can I do CPII in PA? Will my clearances transfer? Will I be certified as a teacher in PA? 

Students are allowed to complete CPII in PA. However, NJ clearances do not transfer to PA. You will need to complete a Child Abuse Form, Criminal Background Check and FBI Fingerprint. The first two forms are completed within 24 hours and the FBI print usually takes about 5 days. As an example for students planning to student teach in PA, here are the Pennsbury Clearances Needed.

You will not receive a teaching certification at the end of your placement. Your certification will still be through the state of NJ. Visit other state’s Department of Education to learn of their teaching requirements.

 

24. Who is my Clinical Practice II Program Coordinator?

Your clinical placement program coordinator is the person assigned by your department to oversee the successful placement of students in their capstone experience. Click this STEP Program Coordinators  list for the most up to date list of the faculty Coordinators for your program of study.

 

25. Can I get paid to substitute teach during my CPII semester?

In 2021, the TCNJ Teacher Education Council (TEC) passed a new policy regarding substitute teaching during Clinical II. We know that numerous districts are having a severe shortage of substitute teachers. In order to help alleviate some of that shortage, students in CPII may now substitute in your placement classroom when your cooperating teacher is absent. The district may pay you for this time. In order to be paid, you may need to register with the district or their substitute agency (such as Source for Teachers).

The full policy is included below. Students in Clinical II should consider registering to substitute teach in the district where you will be placed .

Substitute Policy

Students who have a NJ Substitute Teacher Certification may be asked by their placement district to substitute during their Clinical II semester. Students may serve as substitute teachers in their assigned classroom school if they have the permission of their field supervisor and cooperating teacher. Students may only substitute in their assigned classroom and must notify their supervisor each day that they are serving as a substitute.  They may not substitute more than eight school days during the semester. The student should be compensated by the district at the regular district pay rate for substitutes. Field supervisors and cooperating teachers may rescind their approval to substitute at any time if they feel it is interfering with the student’s professional growth or negatively impact the overall experience. 

26.  How should my teaching resume look?

Students should schedule a visit to the Career Center in Roscoe Hall for a resume review. Some tips before submitting your CPII resume to Livetext: 1) Do not put your address on it, 2) Remove visual add-ons and graphics that make your file too large to send electronically, 3) Your placement is still part of a class, use your TCNJ email address.  Some districts require students to do an interview before a placement is confirmed. We strongly recommend that you consider scheduling a mock interview for practice. 
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