Indiana State University Newsroom

Teachers trained on giving Indiana State students a 'TOTAL' experience

July 27, 2015

It was only a few short years ago when Alex Speidel, '10, was in her senior year at Indiana State University, getting her feet wet in the education field as a Teachers of Tomorrow Advancing Learning (TOTAL) intern in the Vigo County School Corp.

Now a first-grade teacher at Ouabache Elementary, Speidel hopes that in the future she can provide the same opportunity to an aspiring preservice teacher from her alma mater by becoming a coaching teacher in the TOTAL program.

"Being a TOTAL intern was such a great experience for me and I still talk with the teacher whose classroom I was in during the program," said Speidel, who participated in the TOTAL programs coaching teacher training at the Bayh College of Education. "I feel like the program gave me so much experience ahead of student teaching that it made me a better student teacher and a better teacher now."

The Bayh College's department of teaching and learning hosted the coaching teacher training for about 50 educators from Vigo County School Corp. and Rosedale Elementary who want to work with early, elementary and special education majors that become TOTAL interns.

The group included eight teachers who were getting their first training. The TOTAL program affords elementary and special education majors a bell-to-bell experience working with an experienced teacher for the entire semester prior to student teaching.

Students begin by working with the coaching teacher three days a week for five weeks while also carrying a 15- to 18-credit hour course load at Indiana State.

Unlike student teaching, though, TOTAL interns are not expected to be alone with students in the classroom. Instead, they are paired with a classroom teacher who has been prepared by Indiana State faculty at a required training every three years, which includes cognitive coaching, program requirements and co-teaching.

Laura Hughes, a second-grade teacher at Fuqua Elementary with 15 years of teaching experience and a longtime TOTAL coaching teacher, said the TOTAL experience is mutually valuable for students and coaching teachers.

"The interns are a big help to the classroom teacher because there is so much that goes on in a classroom that you don't necessarily notice until you're in the classroom all day," Hughes said. "The TOTAL program gives students a chance to see all of those little things that really happen in a classroom, things they might not have realized, before they begin student teaching."

Coaching teachers are tasked with formal and informal observation of their intern, keeping track of information, communicating clear objectives, explaining what and why they are doing tasks and gradually increasing their intern's responsibilities.

"One of the biggest challenges is the moving from the role of student to teacher, so one of the things the coaches need to do is orient their interns to the school and policies and be clear about the expectations they have," said Diane Quatroche, chair of the department of teaching and learning. "It's a lot of work on the part of the coaching teachers, but they also have an extra set of hands in their classroom to help."

Support is also available from Bayh College faculty members who serve as supervisors for the TOTAL program, said Marylin Leinenbach, coordinator of the TOTAL program and associate professor in the department of elementary, early and special education.

"Communication between the intern, classroom teacher and the university supervisor is the key," she said.

As a third-grade teacher at West Vigo Elementary and a TOTAL coach who has a bachelor's and master's degree from Indiana State, Amy Bosley reminded coaches to give their interns their own space in the classroom and "make them feel like a real teacher" by inviting them to committee meetings.

But, she said, her best piece is to remember that the interns go into their TOTAL experience with just 25 hours of classroom time. "As teachers we think they're like student teachers because they're with us all day but they're not (teachers)," Bosley said. "I start off by having my intern plan a bulletin board. Then, I let them work with a small group eight after I've taught a lesson they've heard me teach, so they can reference what I taught. When they've been in a classroom for such a small amount of time, you need to start small with them and give them jumping points."

Writer:Betsy Simon, media relations assistant director, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-7972 or