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FAQ: Field Experience

  • Q: What is a field experience?

    A field experience is an important component of most teacher education courses and involves teacher candidates going into a pre-K-12 classroom. This component must be completed satisfactorily in order to pass the course, field experience hours cannot be waived. There are three to four elements to the field experience depending on the course. They are:

    1. Classroom observation
    2. Participation
    3. Personal reflection
    4. Teaching a class (not required in Level I courses)

    The field experience is an essential part of Rio Salado's Educator Preparation Program because it provides practical, hands on experience. The number of field experience hours required varies by course 5-20 hours). The focus of each field experience is based on the objectives of the course. Each field experience will be documented and monitored by the course instructor and Mentor Teacher.

  • Q: Do Rio's Educator Preparation students need to obtain fingerprint/background clearance before enrolling in a course with an in-person field experience?

    Teacher candidates must apply immediately through the Arizona Department of Public Safety for fingerprint clearance in order to apply to the Educator Preparation Program. Fingerprint clearance will need to be completed through the Arizona Department of Public Safety. Teacher candidates will need to apply for an Identity Verified Prints (IVP) card, classification takes 10-12 weeks, apply as soon as possible. Rio Salado Courses that require field experience cannot be completed until you have obtained an IVP fingerprint clearance card.
    Out of state/country students must review Rio Salado College’s policy for fingerprint/background checks for participation in all field experiences, internships and student teaching.
    All in-state and out-of-state individuals must provide a valid (IVP) fingerprint clearance card issued by the Arizona Department of Public Safety when applying for an Arizona teaching certificate.

  • Q: Who is the Mentor Teacher?

    A Mentor Teacher or a teaching professional is the teacher of record in the classroom and supports students through the field experience. The Mentor allows students the opportunity to learn from and work in his/her classroom, provides constructive feedback about teaching skills and strategies, and offers suggestions and ideas to help students succeed in the teaching profession.

  • Q: How do I set up the field experience?

    Students are required to submit an online request for Field Experience placements within seven days of the course start date. Students can access the Online Field Experience Request Portal in their course syllabus. Any student who has concerns or needs assistance with the online request process may contact their Outreach Specialist at 480-517-8140 or at
    Students cannot begin field experience hours until the request has been formally approved. Once approved it is the student's responsibility to schedule the days and hours of the field experience with the school and mentor.

  • Q: How do I set up the field experience?

    Teacher candidates are required to enter in the Online Field Experience Request Portal three schools in their area where they would like to complete their field experience. Teacher candidates must complete their field experience at a private, public or charter school that provides instruction in-person.
    Please note that districts/schools receive requests from other institutions for field experience and student teaching placements, so the school and/or mentor elected may not be available. If a district/school does not approve a placement, the teacher candidate must accept this decision. This decision is final. The Online Field Experience Request Portal will automatically move on to the student's alternate school choices. If by the third choice there is no availability, Rio will identify an appropriate placement concerning the teacher candidate's request and content area.
    If a teacher candidate refuses to accept the placement, the teacher candidate will forfeit the placement, will not be placed at another choice, and will fail the course. The teacher candidate also jeopardizes the ability to select a district/school in the future. All forfeits will be documented in the teacher candidate's file.

  • Q: How soon can I expect field experience placement approval?

    Rio Salado needs a minimum of 21 days to arrange placement..

  • Q: Once my field experience placement is approved, when can I begin?

    Once your field experience placement has been approved by Rio Salado and the partnering school/district, you will receive a confirmation email in your RioLearn account. The confirmation will include name of the approved school where you will complete your field experience hours:

    1. School address and telephone number
    2. Name of your assigned Mentor Teacher
    3. Contact information for your assigned Mentor Teacher
    4. May contain special instructions from the Outreach Specialist

    Begin by contacting the assigned Mentor Teacher within 48 hours to work out a set schedule to complete the field experience hours by the end date of the course. It is vital that teacher candidates adhere to the set schedule as to not cause any disruptions to the preK-12 classroom or the Mentor Teacher's lesson plans. If teacher candidates are unable to attend a date during their set schedule, teacher candidate must notify their Mentor Teacher. Teacher candidates can do the field experience portion as quickly or as slowly as they want within the 14-week course.

  • Q: As an Educator Preparation Teacher Candidate, what are my responsibilities?

    While completing field experience hours at a partnering school/district, it is important to remember that teacher candidates are a guest at that school and should observe these guidelines:

    1. Follow all school rules and policies
    2. Dress in a professional manner
    3. Demonstrate consistent punctuality – follow the schedule you have set with your Mentor Teacher
    4. Accept and respect the Mentor Teacher's authority
    5. Model positive behavior
    6. Turn your cell phone off/vibrate as to not disrupt the Mentor Teacher's instruction.
  • Q: How do I complete the field experience requirement if I do not live in the state of Arizona?

    It is the student's responsibility to identify an accredited school site that is willing to participate with Rio Salado College in providing the field experience. The student furnishes this information to the Field Experience Coordinator who in turn contacts the school, verifies if the school/district requires a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)for placement. If the school/district requires a MOU prior to placement, this can take several months for both the legal department from the school district and Maricopa Community Colleges to come to finalize. In some instances, the Memorandum of Understanding is not approved and the student will have to provide a new school/district where they would like to complete field experience hours.
    If you are an out of state student, please contact and provide us the name of the school district and state where you would like to complete your field experience and Rio Salado College will initiate contact with the school district to learn about their field experience placement process.

  • Q: If I am already teaching, can I use my own classroom for the field experience?

    Teacher candidates employed as the teacher in their own classroom must complete a request via the student portal but are provided with an option to mark a box indicating that they will use their own classroom to meet the participation hours. The teacher candidate in their own classroom is required to observe a mentor teacher therefore, a mentor teacher name and email is required on the student portal; observation hours may NEVER be completed within the teacher candidates own classroom. The mentor teacher information will be utilized in the final verification for completion of the required hours. All participation and observation hours must be documented by the teacher candidate.

  • Q: What if I am in the Military and want to do a field experience at the Department of Defense School or overseas?

    These requests require additional time and effort so the sooner the student can submit their information the better. Overseas students must identify whether their school is a Department of Defense School or an American School and through what agency the school is accredited. If the school is a DoDDs school there are additional requirements that must be met. Field experience and student teaching placement requests may take up to 12 weeks. If this applies to you, please complete the following Forms for student teaching only and contact the Field Experience Coordinator for more information:

  • Q: When can I do my field experience if I have a set schedule at work and will have trouble getting time off during school hours?

    It is the student's responsibility to arrange time to complete all field experience hours. Please keep in mind that most schools operate Monday – Friday from 7:30am – 3:00pm when requesting time off work to complete hours.

  • Q: Can I test out of some of the classes?

    Rio Salado’s Educator Preparation Program does not provide an option for competency based evaluations and all coursework must be completed regardless of prior teaching experience.

  • Q: Can I complete field experience hours at the same school my child attends or if I have a relative employed at the same school?

    Schools/Districts have indicated they will not approve a field experience placement if a teacher candidate has a child that attends or relative that works at the site. In addition, school/districts may decline a placement for reasons such as: disruption of classroom instruction, favoritism towards classrooms/students/child, biased teacher candidate field experience evaluations, etc.

  • Q: Can I complete field experience hours at the same school my child attends or the same school a relative is employed at?

    Schools/Districts have indicated they will not approve a field experience placement if a Rio student has a child that attends the same school or a relative who works there. In addition, school/districts may decline a placement for reasons such as: disruption of classroom instruction, favoritism towards classrooms/students/child, biased Rio student field experience evaluations, etc.

  • Q: Does the Mentor Teacher receive a stipend?
    The approved Mentor Teacher will have an option of receiving a stipend or professional development hours for their work with the Rio candidate. Information regarding the options are emailed to the Mentor Teacher when they have accepted the assignment to mentor a teacher candidate.
    If the Rio teacher candidate is emergency certified, a Teacher-In-Residence student, serving in a long-term substitute assignment, or employed at the school or district where the field experience will be completed, the Mentor Teacher will not receive a stipend.
  • Q: How many times am I allowed to utilize a Mentor Teacher for my field experience hours?

    Teacher candidates cannot utilize a Mentor Teacher more than twice for field experience. However, a teacher candidate may utilize a Mentor Teacher twice for field experience and select the same teacher for student teaching.

  • Q: I am also attending another educational institution that requires me to complete field experience hours. Can I combine the field experience hours?

    Teacher candidates cannot overlap or use the same hours for two different field experience requirements. Please ensure that all hours are annotated for the specific field experience in progress. Do not combine the hours or use the same hours for two different classes. If a teacher candidate violates this policy they will be asked to redo their entire field experience.