Module 1: Getting Started

Module 1: Getting Started with your Teacher Candidate

Before You Meet

Congratulations on being selected as a Clinical Educator and hosting a teacher candidate! This is an exciting time for you and your teacher candidate as you embark on this experience together. UNC Charlotte and the teaching profession are grateful for your service and dedication to this experience.

Most teachers find this work to be both rewarding and reflective. This module is designed to help you get started to create a mutually positive experience.

Before getting started, there are some things we ask you to consider:


  • Review Responsibilities

    As you learned in the Introduction module, there are clear expectations for teacher candidates, clinical educators, and facility site coordinators. Prior to your first meetings, we recommend you review this information again to ensure that you are aware of what is expected from all. Having clear expectations and common language is critical to success.

  • Exchange contact information

    Your teacher candidate should initiate contact with you after receiving their placement within two weeks. We encourage you to share your contact information with your teacher candidate to further open up those lines of communication.  There are various times throughout this experience your teacher candidate will need to contact you. For example, an emergency or urgent situation that needs to be shared with you.

  • Prepare Your Classroom

    Create a workspace for your teacher candidate: Within your given space, find a way to distinguish an additional teacher's work space with supplies they will need. If you are unable to locate or fit an additional teacher desk, try a table. Setting up a workspace not only allows them to feel welcomed and comfortable, but it also shows students that they are a teacher within the classroom as well.

    TIP: Reach out to your school secretary and administration team to see what resources are available for your student teacher. You may even be able to snag some school gear they can wear on spirit days!

    Display your teacher candidate's name: Scan your classroom, website, door, etc. Where you have your name displayed, add their name as well. This helps send a message to students, parents, and your teacher candidate that you are a partnership and they are a teacher within the classroom and school community.

  • Compile Useful Documents

    This can help drive your initial meeting. You can send these documents ahead of time to allow them to prepare and ask questions.

    Some items include, but are not limited to, the following:

    • A map of the school
    • Emergency procedures (fire drill, lock down, etc.)
    • Class list(s)
    • Classroom schedule
    • Staff handbook and school policies
    • Bell schedule for students
    • Reporting time for teachers
    • School/district calendar (including PLC, faculty, and committee meetings, sporting events, teacher workdays, etc.)
    • Duties roster
    • Faculty list with dedicated roles and responsibilities.

The First Meeting

A first meeting with your teacher candidate can bring an array of emotions. Preparation and a growth mindset are key to a positive first interaction. This meeting will lay the foundation for a successful experience for both you and your teacher candidate. Consider each other’s schedules when selecting a date/time to ensure you have ample time dedicated to this first meeting. We recommend choosing a time outside of school hours to secure the space and time necessary.

Recommendation: Use this initial meeting checklist

Welcoming them into the School Community

The more you can include your teacher candidate, the stronger the experience. We recommend that you find opportunities to include them in meetings and events that send a clear message: They are part of this school community. Examples include: Open house/curriculum night, attending the first day of school, beginning of the year staff meetings or outings, etc. (keeping in mind that during the YLI semester they are taking a full course load of classes which may impact availability). Agree upon attending dates that work for both schedules. 

Once your teacher candidate arrives for the first day with the students, you should introduce them to your classroom in a way that sets the expectations that they are to be viewed as another teacher or co-teacher.

Example:  “Class, please welcome Ms. Smith.  She is training to become a teacher.  Ms. Smith will be working in our classroom this year, teaching you and helping you to grow just like I do.  I am so excited that we will now have two teachers in our classroom!”

At the start of the semester, your teacher candidate will begin by actively observing and assisting within the classroom; they should never sit idly in the classroom!  Consider providing low-risk opportunities as your teacher candidate builds confidence in this new role. Some activities they may assist with at the beginning of the semester include:

  • Distributing materials
  • Completing a written observation of "your" teaching
  • Introducing a lesson or activity
  • Taking attendance
  • Circulating throughout the classroom to assist students who need help

It is recommended that you debrief after each day to use your professional judgement to collaboratively discuss goals and next steps. Each candidate will be unique in their comfort level and learning/feedback style. You will learn more about this in Module 3.

Building and Fostering your relationship with your student teacher:


Relationship Building

Relationship Building

Given the amount of time you will spend with your teacher candidate, it is a good idea to begin the experience with opportunities to help build and strengthen your relationship  Over the first month, find opportunities to ask questions about each other’s personal preferences for communication, ways to convey feedback, and pet peeves (we all have them!)

Example opportunities Include:

  • Spending time together outside of school - i.e. going out for coffee or lunch

  • Attend a school event together (ball game, school play, concert)

Sentence frames or questions you could use to begin building a relationship with your teacher candidate:

  • Tell me about yourself. Where are you from? 
  • What are your hobbies? 
  • What are your fears going into this experience?
  • Tell me three things you love most!
  • If I have a difficult topic that I want to address with you, do you prefer blunt, direct feedback? Or do you prefer a more gentle approach?
  • When presented with a challenge, are you someone who has to have time to think and process or are you someone who is ready to discuss things right away?
  • What do you love most about yourself? What do you most want to change about yourself?
  • If someone you’ve known for a while were to describe you, what would they say?
  • Here are some of my preferences, pet peeves, and challenges…

Need further assistance with building relationships?

If at any point you need assistance with communicating with your teacher candidate or an issue arises we ask you to involve our team immediately. During the YLI semester reach out to OSCP and during the student teacher semester immediately inform the Faculty Site coordinator. It is paramount that you address concerns in a timely manner and do not let little things fester, as they often become bigger things.

Consider Trying: 
  • Revisiting and review the expectations
  • Reviewing the expectations you created at the initial meeting
  • Talking to your candidate to discover the “why” behind the challenges you are seeing
  • Scheduling time to discuss your concerns
  • Finding something you have in common that could help build the connection.
Additional Resources: