FAQ – Already thinking about AFEs?


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This week’s Expert Contributors

Anna Zuber, Teacher Education Manager

Katie Mentone, Program Coordinator

I don’t know where to start! Who can I talk to about some ideas for my Alternative Field Experience in Year 2?

Mentone:  I understand why you feel you don’t know where to start—the choices and possibilities are almost endless!

Here are some things to think about to try to narrow your focus:

  • What is your specialty area? Your first AFE must somehow be related to your specialty area.
  • What are your career goals and general interests?
  • What kind of experience do YOU think might help you fill a gap in your background, explore an interest, or grow professionally?
  • Would you like an experience that:
  • keeps you in contact with children or adolescents but in an out-of-school context?
  • takes you into educational institutions other than public and Catholic schools?
  • gives you a look behind the scenes of the education system?
  • expands your knowledge of your subject area or specialty area, or of resources useful in one of those areas?
  • takes you to a different part of the province or country—e.g., to a rural, northern, or inner city setting?

You might also think about:

  • working with one or more resource people in a school setting—e.g., a librarian, resource teacher, or student success teacher;
  • working with an age group you will not experience on practicum—e.g., if you are in the IS program, you might learn a lot from an experience in an elementary school;
  • exploring adult education, a college, a youth alternative program, community programs, etc.

Once you have a few ideas, I’d be happy to meet with you!


I’ve heard the international options have limited spaces. Can I sign up now or can I make my own arrangements?

MentoneInternational AFEs are arranged on a year-by-year basis. Once we know what options we will have for your Year 2, we will send you information and invite you to apply. In the meantime:

  • If you have suggestions for possible AFEs the Faculty should consider, please tell us about them in our International AFE Survey.
  • If you are interested in a unique experience, please refer to Western’s ATLAS international experiences portal. These opportunities are arranged through partnerships with third-party organizations around the world and have been approved by Western.


I am not interested in an international AFE. But will a local AFE be much help to my resume and my job search?

Mentone:  It could be a huge help! Employers are often looking for breadth of experience, depth of knowledge, and strength of character in addition to strong teaching skills. Even local placements can give you an opportunity to add something to your resume that will help you stand out from the crowd.


Can I complete my AFE over the summer between year 1 and year 2?

Zuber:  The short answer, I am afraid, is “no.” Here is one of the reasons why:

You are a registered Western student for the fall and winter terms of your two years in the B.Ed. It is only during these terms that you receive WSIB coverage through Western, coverage which allows you to collect Workplace Safety and Insurance benefits in the event of an accident.  During the summer you are not a registered student and are not, therefore, covered. If anything were to happen to you, it could be a huge problem.

Here is a real-life example:  One of our Teacher Candidates, while at her first AFE placement, suffered a concussion. Because she was a registered student, Western’s WSIB coverage kicked in to pay her medical expenses. If her AFE had been taking place during the summer, she would not have been covered.

You may feel that nothing is likely to happen to you because you have chosen a safe place in which to do your AFE; you may feel willing to take a chance on a summer AFE. The Faculty, however, is not willing to take that risk; we will not approve an AFE to be done when you are not a registered student.

A possibility, moving forward, is to add a summer term to the program so that you could be a registered student and take your final AFE during the summer. It would mean charging you a tuition fee—not as much, of course, as the tuition for Fall and Winter terms but, still, a tuition fee (probably a single course fee of a few hundred dollars)—and then you would be a registered student and covered by the University’s insurance policy. If you think this would be a good idea for the future, let us know.


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