Process for students at risk of failing a placement
When a supervising teacher is concerned about a student's progress, certain steps should be taken. Identifying 'at risk' students early leaves more time for supportive intervention.
A Teacher Education Student's teaching practice and/or written work may indicate they are at risk of failing their placement. When at risk students are identified, a formal process is used to indicate the areas where improvement is needed.
The 'at risk' process
When the supervising teacher (ST) and/or tertiary supervisor (TS) are concerned about a student's progress:
- An 'at risk' determination is made – usually by the ST and/or TS, or sometimes by the unit convenor in consultation with the ST.
- Sections A and B of the 'at risk' form is prepared and signed by the student, TS and ST. They each receive a copy of the form, which is emailed to the Professional Experience Office, and the unit convenor is informed.
- The unit convenor collects information about the case and speaks with the ST and TS.
- The unit convenor speaks with the teacher education student. Unless they are only 'at risk' due to bookwork, the convenor arranges a follow-up visit to the centre or school.
- The convenor observes the teacher education student during the follow-up visit, reviews their bookwork and completes the follow-up 'at risk' form. The form is signed by the student and ST, who both receive copies.
- Based on the follow-up visit, the convenor decides whether the student has shown sufficient improvement. If not, the placement is terminated and the student fails the unit.
- The convenor informs the Inital Teacher Education Program Director if there remain serious issues requiring follow-up.
Determining who is 'at risk'
When there are concerns about a student, the supervising teacher, tertiary supervisor and potentially the unit convenor will discuss whether placing them at risk is required. This discussion could include:
- "How is the teacher education student doing?"
- "Is there anything noteworthy at this stage of the placement?"
- "Are there any issues that need to be discussed with the student?"
There may be areas of concern and elements in the evaluation document that are not being demonstrated. This is a strong indicator that the student should be placed at risk of failure.
Supporting at risk students
Use the process. Sometimes staff are reluctant to place a student 'at risk' – however, it is in the student's best interest if their work needs to improve.
Simply warning a student that they may be placed at risk can cause extra stress without giving them the assistance that comes with the at risk process.
While we do not want to pre-empt failure, early notification of being formally at risk of failing gives a struggling teacher education student the best opportunity to improve their work.
Even so, it is important to consider that receiving an 'at risk' warning is stressful for a student. Be supportive by reminding them of them of the need for professionalism, offering encouragement and advice, and directing them to the unit coordinator if necessary.