Teacher candidates pursuing secondary teacher certification in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Northern Illinois University are required to complete at least 130 hours of clinical experience in secondary schools prior to student teaching. These 130 or more hours are divided among three separate, sequential courses: ILAS 201, ILAS 301, and ILAS 401 or a discipline-specific final clinical (BIOS 401, GEOL 401, MATH 401, PHYS 401, FLMT 401 or ENGL 482).
As a result of this three-semester experience, candidates become familiar with a variety of school settings, including rural/small school settings, urban and suburban large school settings, and schools with a racially/culturally diverse population. They also gain experience at both the middle school and the high school levels.
Throughout the clinical sequence, candidates are supervised by experienced public school personnel and, in the first and second clinicals, have the opportunity to interact with public school teachers and administrators in the clinical seminars. By engaging in these interactions within a community of learners, candidates begin to build professional relationships and practice communicating effectively in professional settings.
Cooperating teachers and seminar instructors are called upon to assess each candidate's suitability for the teaching profession. They are specifically asked to comment upon the candidate's ability to relate to students, faculty and staff, the candidate's professional appearance and demeanor, and level of interest, enthusiasm and academic preparation. Furthermore, candidates are encouraged to continually evaluate their own suitability for the teaching profession as they progress through the clinical sequence.
The three clinical courses function within the broader context of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences' initial teacher certification programs. They supplement and integrate knowledge gained primarily through a minimum of 32 hours of course work in the discipline and in subject-specific methods courses as well as courses offered by the College of Education in the foundations of education, educational psychology, and special needs.