WATERVILLE, MAINE, 9/26/2022 – Thomas College’s Lunder School of Education (LSOE) has updated its field experience requirements in response to the critical substitute teacher shortage in central Maine. The new policy increases the required amount of field service to 200 hours prior to “Advanced Field” and student teaching, and strongly encourages LSOE students, or “preservice teachers”, to earn these hours by substitute teaching. Preservice teachers are expected to complete their 200 hours of classroom experience by the end of their second year in LSOE’s professional teacher preparation program, and accumulate no less than 920 hours in the classroom by the time they graduate.
The policy changes were conceived after LSOE faculty attended a Maine superintendents’ conference in August, which highlighted school administrators’ desire for preservice teachers to gain more experience beyond student teaching prior to graduation. With a focus on inventiveness and practical value, LSOE unanimously enacted policy changes to deliver solutions for schools.
The field experience policy is designed to be a win-win for Thomas College’s preservice teachers and local schools. Preservice teachers gain valuable, paid teaching experience that is highly marketable to future employers; local schools fill their immediate staffing needs with strong substitute teachers, and meet long-term goals of building a high-quality teaching workforce.
“It is essential that the college and higher education system work in tandem with PK-12 schools to fill these needs,” states Dr. Katie Rybakova, an Associate Professor of Education and Chair of LSOE. “We owe it to our Maine children to provide high quality educators while also allowing for professional teachers to take time off to tend to sick children, care for themselves, and attend professional learning opportunities.”
The policy goes into effect for all Thomas College LSOE preservice teachers who do not have a student teaching commitment in Spring 2023. Nearly all LSOE courses are held on Tuesdays and Thursdays, offering generous scheduling availability for preservice teachers to conduct their field service.
Among the several school and childcare facility roles eligible for field service, in addition to substitute teaching, the policy allows preservice teachers to serve as ed techs and referees, which are also in critically short supply for Maine schools. Schools in the central Maine area interested in connecting with LSOE and interviewing preservice teachers may contact Dr. Katie Rybakova at [email protected]. LSOE will host a Meeting of the Minds event for school superintendents and administrators on October 19, 2022, featuring roundtables and on-site interviews with preservice teachers. Contact Dr. Rybakova to RSVP.
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