1. Who should I contact with questions about the AFE?
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, you are welcome to reach out to our Program Coordinator, Katie Mentone.
2. How do I contact my potential AFE?
Once you’ve found an exciting organization that you would love to work with, go ahead and reach out! Be sure that you feel confident in how it relates to your professional teaching goals and specific learning objectives. You will need to articulate these later.
When contacting your potential AFE, we recommend including:
- who you are and why you’re interested in their organization,
- how you can add value to their organization,
- how you hope to learn from them, and
- a Letter of Introduction from the Faculty explaining the AFE.
NOTE – some Ontario school boards require all AFE placements to be coordinated centrally through the Teacher Education office – see the AFE Ontario School Board Requirements
All Ontario school boards will require teacher candidates completing their AFE with them meet their board-specific requirements.
3. How do I get my AFE approved by the Faculty of Education office?
Once your AFE placement confirms they are able to host you, you will need to get approval from the Faculty of Education. To do so, simply fill out the online AFE Proposal form.
You will need to include an outline of your AFE responsibilities/project, the contact information for your AFE Supervisor and specific learning objectives that you hope to accomplish. These must relate to your professional teaching goals and, in the case of AFE 1, your BEd Specialty. Your proposed learning objectives must be substantial enough that, after completing the AFE, you can write a Final Report reflecting upon them. Usually 75-125 words per learning objective is appropriate.
Your AFE Proposal will be assessed by the Teacher Education Office and your Specialty Coordinator. Both you and your AFE Supervisor will be notified once it’s approved. (Your AFE Supervisor may then be asked to sign a Placement Agreement form with the Faculty of Education.)
4. What is the Education Placement Agreement Form (as listed in the AFE Proposal Form)?
The Education Placement Agreement Form is a contract between Western University and the AFE Host Organization, ensuring both organizations have insurance and are comfortable with the AFE arrangement. These are required by every AFE Host except those in Ontario public and Catholic school boards (we already have practicum agreements with those boards that also cover AFE). The BEd Program Coordinator will arrange the Placement Agreement with the AFE Host.
5. May I complete my AFE in the summer instead of during the December and April time frames?
No. During the summer you are not a registered student, and neither the Faculty nor the University can provide the supports required for off-site program components. Both Alternative Field Experiences must be completed according to the approved Academic Calendar—one in December and one in April
6. May I combine the December and April AFEs into a single 7-week placement?
We believe there is value in having two placements at different times of the year and at different points in your program. Both Alternative Field Experiences must be completed according to the approved Academic Calendar — one in December and one in April.
7. I hope to have an international experience in my second AFE and would like to stay longer than 4 weeks.
Absolutely! You may choose to stay beyond the 4 weeks in the spring that are required for program completion—but you do so as a choice, not a requirement, and you must understand that neither the Faculty nor the University can provide support or take any responsibility for you beyond the middle of April.
In order to adjudicate that you have complete the placement satisfactorily, we will need an AFE Final Report at the end of the 4 weeks. After that point, you have completed the program and technically are no longer a registered student. And because we can ‘count’ only 4 weeks and not any additional time you may spend at your placement site, you must still complete the December placement in order to receive your full program credit.
8. Can I arrange my own international AFE placement?
We strongly encourage all teacher candidates to take advantage of the faculty-arranged or community engaged learning international AFEs. These include financial funding opportunities, vetted organizations, cultural integration, strong safety protocol, and insurance policies to protect you.
If you are interested in unique international opportunities outside of the Faculty-led options, please refer to Western’s ATLAS international experiences portal. These opportunities are pre-arranged through partnerships with third-party organizations around the world and have been approved by Western.
Please note that in order to maintain teacher candidate safety and security as a top priority and due to risk management and liability concerns, independently-organized international AFE placements are not considered approved international activity or “University Activities”. Western University’s Safety Abroad Policy states the following on this subject: “3.3 […] activities organized solely by a student or group of students are not included unless they otherwise meet the definition of University Activities”.
9. Can I complete both field experiences at the same place?
Yes. We believe there is value in selecting different experiences for the two AFEs, and we encourage you to be imaginative and adventurous. That said, there may be much to be learned by returning to the same placement. So, yes, you may indicate in your AFE 2 Proposal that you would like to return to the same location. Your Proposal and Final Report will need to reflect updated learning outcomes and a justification for returning to the same placement.