The Role of Student Teaching Expansion and Support

        In the spring of 2021, the UW College of Education decided to create a new position that could act as a point person to prepare and support all those involved in the student teaching experience. Elizabeth McMahan filled the position as the Director for Student Teaching Expansion and Support. There are many current and future projects that Elizabeth is undertaking to support student teachers, mentor teachers, and others who are involved with the student teaching experience.

        Elizabeth’s philosophy in these projects is centered on consistent communication to enhance the relationship among the stakeholders in the student teaching experience. This article will discuss three main groups: student teachers, mentor teachers, supervisors.

1)      Student Teachers: Student teachers receive support from the time they begin the application process through the final evaluation of their student teaching experience.
  • The student teacher applications have been streamlined to be more accessible and easier to use for students when considering which districts they would like as their top choices.
  • The student teacher candidates now have student teacher/mentor teacher information nights to field questions before the student teaching experience.
  •  A common complaint from student teachers is the difficulty in finding affordable housing. Elizabeth has worked with the College of Education network to receive donated affordable housing from some of the alumni connections around the state.
  • Scholarships also started in the spring of 2021 for student teacher support.  In that first semester, twenty student teachers were awarded $500 each; this year we will be able to award forty scholarships thanks to the UFund campaign and 2021 Giving Day. The goal is to be able to continue these scholarships for student teachers for many years to come.
  •  The College of Education is streamlining the student exception process so that student teachers have a more transparent and understandable experience when asking for placement changes or out-of-state placement approvals.
  • They have also created a series of five seminars focused on the process and submission of their edTPA portfolio, a national assessment, which is a requirement for graduation.

2)      Mentor Teachers: Mentor Teachers can expect consistent communication from Elizabeth throughout the year.

  •  She has set up office hours each week so that the mentor teachers can call or Zoom in for any questions answered.
  • In addition, she continues to work with the Mentor Teacher Modules team to ensure that more mentor teachers are aware of the support resources available. Please see the Mentor Teacher Modules article as well.
  •  One exciting development is that WY-COLA (Wyoming Coaching Laboratory) will be funding 4 ½ day professional development workshops in Albany County that will be open to any mentor teacher, expanding on concepts within the mentor teacher modules. Please consider reaching out to Elizabeth if you would like more information about workshop dates.

3)      Supervisors: Elizabeth will be providing office hours for supervisors of student teachers. Not all supervisors are faculty of the University of Wyoming. Elizabeth is working to support and ensure they get the complete information even if they are not located at UW.

        One project that just started at the UW Lab School was implementing a year-long internship program so that student teachers move from the student teaching experience to a paid teaching experience within the same classroom but is still provided with a high level of support and professional development. This internship is a pilot program that has showcased great success, and they are excited to see this program hopefully increase in terms of intern capacity from two students to four students in the next year to possibly more schools and even districts in the future. Another potential project mentioned is developing a district fair wherein student teacher candidates can learn about the districts within the Partnership in terms of classroom cultures, school community, and local resources to help them make the sometimes difficult decision of where they would like to student teach.

        If you would like to reach out to Elizabeth McMahan to learn more about some student teaching developments, please get in touch with her at We have also included a handout developed by Elizabeth sharing information about her office hours and the mentor teacher modules framework.

        A positive student teaching experience can often be the catalyst for a persevering career in teaching; that is why this work is imperative. Building and sustaining these strong relationships among our Wyoming educators now is vital for our teachers in the future.
Contact Us

McWhinnie Hall, Room 213

Dept. 3374, 1000 E. University Ave.

Laramie, WY 82071

Phone: 307-766-3274


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