Field Education: Graduate Student Frequently Asked Questions
Office of Field Education
Activities West, 1st Floor
Boston MA 02215
8 a.m.-5 p.m. daily or by appointment
- What is the placement process?
- Where are students placed?
- What are the prerequisites for a placement?
- When should I begin planning a placement?
- What are the resources available in the Field Experience Office?
- What is an intern?
- What are the benefits of an internship?
- Is it worth it?
- Can I find my own site?
- Can I get paid?
- If I have a job in a school or site that may be appropriate for my degree, can I use that for my placement?
- What are the criteria for a Supervising Practitioner teacher?
- How will I be supervised while I am in my practicum?
- If I have a learning disability or any type of disability, should I disclose this information to my site supervisor and/or cooperating practitioner?
- Should I call a site or teacher I am interested in doing a placement with?
The first step for all students is to make an appointment with the Office of Field Education through the MyWheelock system. Log in using your student email username and password and click the Appointments link to search our calendar. You will not be eligible to visit any sites until you check with us.
It is most important to keep in close contact with the Offic of Field Education at each step of your search. Please do not call sites on your own without notifying us. Sites can get overwhelmed with calls and visits. Our role is to support you in your search and to keep the process as streamlined and hassle free as possible for both students and sites.
Wheelock has a commitment to serving the Boston, Cambridge, and Brookline communities in which the College is located. Students are placed primarily in these urban communities, in schools, hospitals, and agencies with which the College has partnerships and longstanding relationships.
Graduate students must be accepted to Wheelock and deposited before they can apply for internships. Graduate students must be admitted into a graduate program at least one semester prior to the semester in which they wish to begin their field work. Graduate students must complete three prerequisite courses before beginning the internship in the fall.
Some sites may have individual requirements for students before they begin their field work. For example, students and interns teaching in the Cambridge Public School system must show proof of a negative TB test taken within 90 days of beginning placement. Graduate students in the Child Life program who are entering hospitals or community health programs may be required to show proof of negative TB, proof of physical, and immunization records before beginning placement. Additionally, some sites may require CORI (Criminal Offense Record Inquiries) checks before a student may begin his or her placement.
For further information, please contact the Field Experience Office.
When you complete a placement will depend upon your program of study. Either the Graduation Admission Staff or your advisor will let you know when to contact the Office of Field Education to being the process.
The Office of Field Education is responsible for the field-based experiences of all Wheelock students, both graduate and undergraduate with the exception of Social Work. Wheelock students complete practicum and clinical experiences in over 285 programs serving children and families throughout the metropolitan Boston area. In keeping with the vision of the College, we seek placements, which offer students opportunities to work in settings rich in diversity. The placements reflect the College's historic involvement in the community and emphasize the importance of dynamic integration of theoretical and practical knowledge.
The staff of the Office of Field Education works closely with faculty, supervisors and supervising practitioners to ensure that students have a broad range of field-based experiences while at the college. The staff seeks to make a match that works to the mutual benefit of the student, supervising practitioner and children. We are happy to assist students in exploring placement options based on their course requirements, interests and professional goals. Our offices are located on the first floor of Activities West.
Interns in education are teachers-in-training whose opportunities for learning, whose formal and informal school-based responsibilities, and whose relationships with the school, the supervising practitioner, and the children they work with differ from those of student teachers. Interns typically spend an entire year in a single classroom learning to co-teach with a mentor teacher. They work towards sharing the classroom and teaching responsibilities with their mentors, including planning curriculum, implementing activities and lesson plans, assessing children's learning, and communicating with families.
A child life internship is a clinical experience supervised by a Certified Child Life Specialist that can be either 400 or 200 hours throughout the course of a semester.
- Experiencing a full school year in the same classroom
- Mentoring from an experienced teacher
- Seeing children's growth over a year in both content area and social/emotional development
- Becoming an integral part of the teaching team and school community
- Seeing the evolution of teaching practices over the course of a year
- Forming relationships with other interns for support, reflection, and shared learning experiences
- Establishing a classroom climate and culture
- Curriculum development and implementation over the course of a year
- Modifying the learning environment to meet children's and curricular needs
- Using assessment data to modify curriculum and instruction
- Communicating with families
- Deepening understanding of children's backgrounds (race, language, culture, gender, families, special needs) and using that knowledge to inform practice
For a variety of reasons, Wheelock students have found that their internship experiences have been intense but "well worth it" because of the breadth and depth of their experiences in the classroom, in the school, and in the profession. Generally, students who have done internships feel more confident and better prepared to assume responsibility for their own classrooms, and to take on leadership roles in their new schools, the following year. While most interns earn a stipend, in the long run, it is the quality of the experiences rather than the amount of the stipend that matters most.
For some education programs, students can find a "self-placement." All self-placements must be approved by a faculty member from the appropriate department. Please contact the Office of Field Education if you are interested in pursuing this option.
Many of the graduate education programs have an internship component that is a yearlong paid experience that follows the school year calendar from September through June. Students must apply for internships through the Office of Field Education in early spring of the semester prior to the fall internship they are seeking.
When a student has a paid position in a care or education setting other than a Wheelock partnership site, the graduate school will consider supervising that student in that site. Integrated Elementary and Special Education (IESE) students must complete a site approval application through the Office of Field Education. Graduate students who are employed either as teachers or paraprofessionals in child care or education settings may apply in writing to use their place of employment as their field experience.
The placement must meet state certification requirements (age/grade level, inclusive population) and the student must be allowed to fully participate in all teaching activities with the whole group of children. The state requires that supervising practitioners have an Initial License and three or more years experience in the area in which the student is looking to be certified. An on-site "supervising practitioner of record" must be identified in such cases where a student is teaching in his/her own classroom. Each student will be assigned a Wheelock supervisor who will visit and observe the classroom, and this places a geographic consideration on the placement and site.
If the student is an Assistant Teacher or Classroom Aide, a Certified Teacher must supervise him or her in that classroom. The teacher must have an Initial License and three or more years teaching experience in the area the student is looking to be certified.
If the student is the Teacher of Record, either the Principal or a designated Certified Teacher must supervise him or her. The on-site supervisor observes the student and meets with him or her as well on a regular basis.
Students are supervised by a member of the Wheelock College Faculty who serves as the connecting link between the student's placement and the College. The Wheelock supervisor shares the responsibility for the student's professional development with supervising personnel at the site. Wheelock supervisors observe the student's work and provide ongoing feedback and suggestions. In addition, the Wheelock supervisor is another professional with whom a student can process events, sort out experiences and develop her/his own emerging interaction style and philosophy.
14. If I have a learning disability or any type of disability, should I disclose this information to my site supervisor and/or supervising practitioner?
This is a personal decision. You are not legally obligated to do so, but some people find that it is beneficial. It is recommended that students registered with the Office of Access and Disability Resources here at the college make an appointment with the Director of Access and Disability Services to discuss whether or not to disclose, how to disclose, and/or what information to disclose.
Please do not call sites without notifying us. Placement sites can get overwhelmed with calls and visits. We urge you to keep in close contact with the Office of Field Education, and contact us with any questions at any time. Our role is to support you and keep the process as streamlined and hassle free as possible for both sites and students.
If you have any questions that should be a part of our Frequently Asked Questions section, please let the Office of Field Education know and they will include them.