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New teacher evaluation system impacting student teachers

The new evaluation system was put into place to improve the quality of teachers across the state, but the system is starting to take a toll on aspiring educators.
Syracuse (WSYR-TV) -- The new evaluation system was put into place to improve the quality of teachers across the state, but the system is starting to take a toll on aspiring educators.

Two years ago, state lawmakers passed the requirements for grading teachers and principals as part of an effort to get Federal funding. Governor Cuomo in January set a one year deadline for the plans to be in place. The guidelines are now making it harder for student teachers.

Some SUNY Cortland juniors are back on campus for their first time in two weeks after getting their first taste of student teaching in Groton Central School classrooms.

“It was a little challenging at first, just because we didn’t know our boundaries, we didn’t know what was expected of us by the teacher, but my teacher was so welcoming,” said SUNY Cortland Junior Ashley Whitney.

Getting a student teacher into a real classroom isn’t as easy as it once was. Program coordinators have started noticing some resistance to having them take over a class.

"I don't blame them. As a former teacher myself really turning over my classroom for an extended period of time to a student is really kind of a scary thing. Classroom teachers are dealing with so many expectations and requirements,” said Renee Potter, Student Teaching Program Coordinator.

Potter says they’re adjusting their program by trying to build better relationships with the school districts and make student teaching beneficial for both sides.

“There really wasn’t a lot of connection to the district itself, to the actual faculty members that are there and the instructors here on campus, so we’ve had to change that to where we are coming in together,” Potter continued.

This is something they just started in Groton this past fall and they hope will help. They decided to cancel class on campus for two weeks, so the aspiring teachers could get into Groton schools every single day during that stretch, as opposed to just every Monday throughout the semester, which is what they've done in the past.

"We each got to sit with one particular teacher for the whole time. We really got to know the kids. I personally like being there for the two weeks because we got to see the entire class day,” said SUNY Cortland Junior Alexis Kerr.

By the time they’re ready for full-time student teaching next fall, there may be a new chapter in how to help these students learn.

Cortland State student teachers have been going farther from campus to do their student teaching than ever before as they look for opportunities to get that classroom experience.

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