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Student Teaching FAQ’s

How do closures resulting from the COVID19 outbreak affect submission of paperwork?

With colleges/universities, schools and businesses closed for the next few weeks, we know that students are wondering how to proceed. We know that you are not able to submit paperwork for certification, as it requires notarized forms and delivery of a hardcopy application. Please prepare your paperwork as normal and be prepared to turn it in when campus life resumes.  You can register to get your fingerprints (criminal history), but will not be able to follow through until businesses reopen.
Other documents such as your unofficial transcript and resume can still be put into LiveText at this time.

How do I load my documents into LiveText?

All student teachers are asked to follow the attached directions to create LiveText file where they can attach all documentation (fingerprints, TB results, subcerts, HIB, Child Abuse and other forms for districts). You will need to have a LiveText Login to access the database. If you do not have a login, please email Mr. Corey Drake at drakec1@tcnj.edu.

It is essential that you follow the directions exactly as written. Please remember to name your documents as instructed in the instructions. Documents that are not properly named cannot be viewed by the office.

I wasn’t able to make the Student Teaching Orientation Session, Or I just learned that I need to apply to be a student teacher. How do I submit an application?

If you were not able to make the orientation session for your department, try to attend another session. Available dates will be listed at the bottom of our homepage. You can attend any session, but special instructions by major are given in a session. See your STEP Program Coordinators for those details. If you still aren’t able to attend a session or none is being offered, then review the PowerPoint and Handout for instructions that are posted on the bottom of our homepage. You can click here for the Orientation PowerPoint with voiceover

Please submit a hardcopy of your application to your STEP Program Coordinators (NOT the STEP Office), as they will review and send us the approved application. Please speak with your program coordinator before meeting with the STEP Office. Applications are always being accepted. However, applications that are received late can result in a late placement.

However, you want to be expeditious in submitting your online application and documentation (Resume, Transcript, TB results, Fingerprinting and Criminal Background Check, subcert (if you have one) in LiveText at the same time you submit to your department.

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

I had trouble completing my application because I haven’t taken the courses listed yet (or my courses are not in the list)

No worries. As we shared in the Orientation Session, the current database is antiquated and no longer able to do all the things we need it to do. Please select something on the list to move the application forward. When you print it off, cross or black out the wrong information and provide appropriate information. When attempting to place you, we work from the approved application that you hand to us because we know of this flaw.

The address for my residency during student teaching changed from what I originally put on my application and I was placed too far away.

We are well aware of the fact that your application for student teaching is solicited a year in advance and that changes may occur. If you move, or have any other special circumstance that arises, please remember to email us the change as soon as you can. We depend on the kindness of the school district to host you. We do not want to jeopardize our relationship with the district and future placements by removing you from a guaranteed placement for non essential reasons.

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. Please send information to the office. We would be happy to reach out on your behalf.

I have special circumstances that requires me to be close to campus. Can you find me a placement close to campus?

Maybe! Students who need to remain close to campus during their student teaching assignments to remain active in campus clubs, organizations or ensembles should make a note on the hardcopy application that is given to their STEP Program Coordinators. With advance notice, we have a greater opportunity to make this accommodation work.

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 waiver that you cannot and will not be recommended for teacher certification 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.

Which option do I choose when getting fingerprinted? How do I transfer or archive my prints?

Students who have been fingerprinted as anything except a Substitute Teacher will not be able to archive or transfer their fingerprints. Students should only be choosing the substitute teacher option for CE, CP1 or CP2 experiences. Students do not have to send fingerprinting results until they have been placed in a district as a student teacher. Once placed, students may be asked to archive or transfer their prints to that district. Choosing the Substitute Teacher option allows you to send your fingerprinting results to a school/district faster. Here is a list of District and County codes to help you.

If you were paid as a substitute teacher, you will need to transfer your fingerprints to the district (https://www.state.nj.us/education/crimhist/transfer.htm) for $6. Otherwise, you will need to archive your prints to the district for $29 before you can start your placement. In some cases before your application will be considered complete. For more information, you can go to the Department of Education website for directions on how to archive your prints, Click here for information on transferring your prints. To check for the update and to download a copy of your fingerprints, go to the Office of Student Protection Status. Updates are made every Friday Morning.

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.

I thought we would be placed 35 miles from our home address, not 35 miles from TCNJ!

Actually, we must place you within 35 miles of TCNJ. All students must be accessible to the field supervisors who must travel to their site to evaluate them. If this is an issue and 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 can, we will be able to place you closer to home. If they are not able to find a supervisor to visit, you will have to be placed in a district that may be further from your home. The Hardship Waiver Form is online under forms.

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Where do I go to download a copy of my fingerprints (criminal history) results?

Approximately two weeks (or 14 days) after you are fingerprinted, you can go to the Criminal History Review Status website to get your results.
https://homeroom5.doe.state.nj.us/chrs18/?app-emp-history You will need to put in your social security number and your birth date and year. You can download and save the pdf document. Please attach a copy in LiveText.

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

There are many people here to help answer your question. However, to get your question answered quicker, use this guide:

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

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

3. Questions about the student teaching process, requirements, or questions on student teaching timeline or placement for Clinical Practice 1 (Part-time) and Clinical Experience (observation) questions, view this website, the Handbook, or send an email to STEP@tcnj.edu or Professor Eileen Heddy at heddy@tcnj.edu

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

5. 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.

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 grade levels or schools. In those cases, we have to wait until everyone knows where they will be placed the following year. This means that we may not be notified of who is willing to host students until that process is complete.

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.

You can also go into the STEP database to view the school district where the office has sent your placement request. It will read pending until you are placed. It may change if a district is unable to accommodate you.

How is COVID-19 impacting placements?

As a result of COVID-19 there have been a number of changes that are impacting placements.

  • Students who are no longer residing on campus or in Mercer County during student teaching will need to notify the STEP Office of the change of residency, ASAP.
  • Due to the cancellation of the Global Student Teaching Program for the Fall semester, students placed for half a semester must now be placed for the full 15 weeks. This may result in a student getting a new placement and notification may take longer to be confirmed.
  • All students should obtain a substitute certification. This will allow students flexibility in working with students if schools move to online instruction at some point during their placement.
  • Information on obtaining a Substitute Certificate and taking Praxis exams can be found on the Certification Office website.

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.

How often do I need to get a TB test done?

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. Once the student is placed in a district, a request for additional clearances will be made, if needed. The Health Center at TCNJ holds a TB clinic every semester. The cost to students is $10.

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The College is open with very limited on-campus staffing. For assistance and all questions, please contact us via email step@tcnj.edu.