P12 Faculty Mentor Handbook (pdf of information below)
What is NCIS?
1. Who is involved with NCIS?
The NCIS (Niner Clinical Immersion School) program is designed to restructure early clinical experiences for UNC Charlotte’s College of Education teacher candidates pursuing their initial teaching licensure.
2. Why develop this model now?
The NCIS program was developed to address two primary needs, voiced internally by candidates in the College of Education programs and externally by the schools/districts we serve. First, candidates demonstrated a need for early clinical experiences that provide increased and more sustained levels of classroom engagement prior to the student teaching semester. This could better prepare them not only for success as a student teacher but also for ultimate success as a licensed educator. Second, in response to both candidate needs and our P12 school/district partner feedback, we are reexamining existing programs to better meet candidate needs. A clinical placement model that allows candidates and schools to plan ahead, forecast timelines, form relationships and allow for experiential learning under the guidance of skilled mentors has benefits to all those involved—including P12 students in our schools.
3. What makes a school an NCIS site?
In NCIS sites, P12 faculty are considered “mentor teachers” to assist with training UNC Charlotte teacher candidates. In a collaborative model with university faculty, P12 faculty are asked to work together as a department, grade level group, content area team, or a combination of these to team-mentor a teacher candidate in their early field experiences. A UNC Charlotte faculty liaison will work with P12 faculty to provide support, answer questions, and assist with team questions/logistics; in this manner, candidates will work with and learn from a wide array of teachers with a diverse range of experiences.
4. What disctricts are currently involved with NCIS?
As of fall 2015, NCIS is a pilot program in four school districts in the Charlotte Metro Region: Cabarrus County Schools, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, Iredell-Statesville Schools, and Union County Schools.
5. How is NCIS structured?
There are three ways that NCIS is different from other field placement models in your classroom:
- Candidates are assigned to a team of mentor-teachers on site, not a single teacher. This could be a department, grade-level team, content area team, or any combination of these. P12 partners share mentoring responsibilities. Strictly as a recommendation, it is suggested that the mentor-team be comprised of around 3-4 teachers if possible; school liaisons may work with university liaisons to determine the most appropriate mentor-team composition.
- Candidates have specific activities they are asked to complete that are aligned to universitycoursework, compiled on the Clinical Experiences Checklist Guide of Activities. This Checklist provides guidance to the candidates and the mentors.
- UNC Charlotte has assigned a liaison from the Office of Field Experiences to network with P12 mentors and provide supports to both school partners and our candidates.
Each of these components is explained in detail below.
Working on a Mentoring Team
6. How does a mentoring team work, exactly, with NCIS?
Each school site has identified a school site liaison who will work with P12 faculty in the candidate’s content area or grade level to identify P12 teachers who possess either the content knowledge to be an appropriate mentor or the communication/nurturing skills to be a mentor (preferably both!). Someone from this group should be identified as the mentor team initial contact person; this person would assist with getting the candidates started, facilitating introductions, etc. However, each mentor-team will structure the oversight of the NCIS candidate differently. This oversight may be determined with guidance from the school liaison (usually an administrator or facilitator) or the mentor-teachers may determine among themselves who will “keep up with” the NCIS candidate.
Initial steps for the mentor-team include:
- Determine who is on the team. Not everyone is ready to be a mentor. Novice teachers may not be prepared to accept mentoring responsibilities (although they shouldn’t automatically discounted because of inexperience). Veteran teachers may be excellent classroom teachers but not necessarily possessing strong mentoring skills. In addition, some good mentors may teach in a different content area from the candidate … that’s okay. It is important for these candidates to interact with good teachers. During student teaching, the candidate will be paired with a content area teacher; until then, they may interact with a variety of teachers from different content areas/grade levels. Strictly as a recommendation, it is suggested that the mentor-team be comprised of around 3-4 teachers if possible.
- Determine who will be the initial point of contact for the NCIS candidate(s). This will be who the candidates initially talk to for basics (i.e., “where do I park?” “where do I report once I check in at the main office?”). This person may also discuss initial schedules with the candidate: when the candidate will be at the school, how often, etc. This information can help the mentor team best determine the candidate’s schedule of interactions.
- Determine the candidate’s schedule of interactions with mentors. Candidates have a copy of the Clinical Experiences Checklist of Activities (see below) which is designed to help guide their interactions in classrooms. Mentors, in collaboration with candidates, may determine which activities may be completed with each mentor-teacher. It is the intent that candidates work with all mentors at some point in the semester, but as professionals, the mentor-team guides those decisions. The UNC Charlotte Liaison will also be available to support these discussions as needed.
Once the semester is started, next steps for the mentor-team include:
- Assisting the candidate with completing items on the Checklist
- Supporting the candidates
- Giving constructive feedback to the candidates
- Informing the UNC Charlotte Liaison if concerns or questions arise
A final thought - this is a pilot! As we move through the 2015-16 pilot year, we will be seeking mentor-team feedback on this process. We want your input! If it's not working, we want to make it work; the goal here is to provide a strong clinical field experience for UNC Charlotte teacher candidates moving forward into the profession. Our P12 partners are an integral part of that work and we thank you for your support in preparing our candidates.
7. What is the Clinical Experiences Checklist Guide of Activities?
Each candidate is provided a Clinical Experiences Checklist Guide of Activities for their assigned semester. The Checklists are aligned with university courses and provide guidance to P12 mentors and teacher candidates about what kinds of activities a candidate should be engaged with in the P12 classroom. Ideally, the activities would occur in several mentor-teacher classrooms, giving the candidate the chance to interact with a variety of teachers, P12 students, and teaching styles. Candidates will share these Checklists with P12 mentors.
8. What is the role of the UNC Charlotte Liaison? Will the Liaison be available to answer questions or assist us?
Absolutely! A UNC Charlotte Liaison is assigned as the “go to” person for the NCIS site. UNC Charlotte Liaisons meet with candidates and P12 mentors on site as needed to share expectations, answer questions, and monitor candidate progress about once a month (no evaluations, just “check-ins”). Mentors who have questions or concerns of any kind can contact the liaison directly via phone, email, or when the liaison is on site for a monthly check-in visit.
9. During a given semester prior to student teaching, how often will NCIS Candidates be in my school?
To build rapport and provide a diverse range of experiences, NCIS candidates are asked to go to their assigned NCIS sites a minimum of once a week for ten weeks during the semester. Each visit should be about three (3) hours or the equivalent of ½ day. Candidates are encouraged to vary the dates and times they go to school as much as possible, but as college students with outside responsibilities, this may not always be possible.
10. During a given semester prior to student teaching, how often will NCIS Candidates be in my classroom?
It all depends on how you, your mentor-team colleagues, and the candidate work together to structure the candidate’s time.
11. How long will the NCIS candidate be assigned to my school site?
The NCIS model emphasizes quality of experiences within diverse school sites. Candidates are assigned to two schools with different demographic populations. These two sites are paired. Candidates spend their first semester in the program at one school; in their second semester and through the student teaching semester, the student goes to their second site. Candidates are asked for preferences about which site they wish to start with and we try to accommodate candidates when we can.
How long the candidate is assigned to your site depends on how far along the candidate is in their university program coursework. Candidates in their first semester will visit their first assigned site for one semester. Beginning with their second semester of program coursework, candidates will transition to their second site and remain in that site through student teaching (until the end of their programs).
The figure below helps to illustrate this process:
Mentoring a Beginning Teacher Education Candidate:
What to Expect
The UNC Charlotte Educator Preparation Programs are committed to training excellent teachers for future classrooms. However, we cannot do this alone. We need P12 partners who recognize and embrace the potential impact they have on novice teacher candidates. We know from years of research that the influence of practicing P12 teachers on beginning teacher candidates is SIGNIFICANT. We also know that in the current policy climate, it can become easy to focus the more negative aspects of the teaching profession. We seeks P12 partners who can rise above challenges to unite with us in providing candidates with positive, beneficial training experiences that prepare them to ultimately better serve their own P12 students.
With this goal in mind, UNC Charlotte asks P12 mentor teachers to:
- Accept an active role in preparing the teacher candidate. We want you to work with our candidates, not just allow them into your classrooms. The Checklists help to guide your interactions with candidates.
- Work with colleagues as a mentor-team. The NCIS model is structured so no one teacher must assume total mentoring of teacher education candidate. By sharing the responsibility for mentoring, P12 faculty may structure a candidate’s time to align with their own classroom schedule while simultaneously allowing NCIS candidate to work with a diverse array of teachers.
- Acknowledge that candidates are LEARNING. They will make mistakes now and then; good mentors accept this as part of the learning process. Coach candidates appropriately by honestly and professionally discussing mistakes and allowing candidates to make improvements.
- Take time to reflect with the candidate about his/her performance. While the College of Education wants to be thoughtful of each mentor’s time, reflection and constructive feedback are key components to personal growth. Appropriate, professional feedback to candidates is critical to their success. This may need to occur before or after school, during lunch, during a phone call, etc. Try to avoid giving all feedback electronically; it is helpful if at least some reflective conferencing occurs face- to-face.
- Talk to your mentor-team colleagues about the candidate’s performance. Much like the PLC or team approach to working with P12 students, the NCIS model encourages P12 mentors to interact regarding the progress and learning of the teacher candidate. These conversations can engage mentors in reflecting on the qualities of effective teachers and work to inform their own classroom practice.
- Communicate hope and optimism about their career choice to your NCIS candidate. We are all well- served by the addition of a contributing member to our profession! While we don’t expect P12 mentors to ignore the realities of teaching, part of good mentoring is to encourage, not discourage; to promote, not devalue. The College of Education values mentors who capitalize on opportunities to affirm the human potential of their mentee. We thank you for this valuable service you are providing.