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Roles


Cooperating Teachers

The Role of the Cooperating Teacher

Classroom cooperating teachers are critical to the success of the student teacher program.  Their daily guidance aids the student teachers’ transition from the role of student to classroom teacher.  Through role modeling, informal conversations, and formal conferences, the cooperating teacher provides the student teacher with guidance in developing teaching procedures and techniques, selecting activities, gathering resource materials, and developing relationships with students and co-workers.  To a great extent, the cooperating teacher can determine the success or failure of the student teacher.

Initial Contact With Student Teacher

Fall Semester

Cooperating teacher and student teacher are to connect via phone, e-mail or meeting by July 15th to plan for the first day of student teaching which begins in August on the date your district has established for back-to-school meetings for teachers.

Spring Semester

Cooperating teacher and student teacher are to connect via phone, e-mail or meeting no later than August 3rd to plan for the first day of  “August Experience“.  This experience gives our spring student teachers the opportunity to learn as much as they can about what goes into the annual back-to-school activities from a teacher’s perspective.   These 30 clock hours are not evaluated.  The student teacher is expected to assist you with classroom set-up, attend meetings, become familiar with the school culture and the children in the classroom.  We have found that this experience helps our student teachers become acclimated to your classroom and also helps alleviate fears associated with this important, culminating experience.

Student Teaching Timeline

Student teachers should experience several different levels of involvement depending on their readiness and the immediate situation.  Maryville students will come to you with a great deal of prior experience in classrooms.  You should be able to increase their involvement in the teaching process fairly quickly.

This is what a 16 week experience may look like.  Adapt it as appropriate for the length of time your student teacher will be with you and their ability to jump into instructional roles.

Week One

  1. Establish a timeline for increasing teaching responsibilities of the student teacher.
  2. Provide opportunities for observation of and participation in planning and implementing lessons.
  3. Allow opportunities for the student teacher to work with individual and small groups of pupils and learn all the pupils’ names.

Weeks Two – Three

Provide the student teacher with opportunities to:

  1. Observe you in the act of planning and teaching.
  2. Assume some supervisory responsibilities such as homeroom or opening activities, recess or hall duty, keeping records, etc.
  3. Plan and implement lessons in several different areas of the curriculum and/or different periods during the week.
  4. Plan and implement lessons for one group in one subject area or period for one or two weeks.
  5. Discuss and agree on the Student Work Sampling Project.

Weeks Four – Five

Provide the student teacher with opportunities to:

  1. Assume responsibility for planning and implementing lessons for areas of the curriculum or two or three periods of instruction daily.
  2. Participate in classroom management and discipline of pupils.
  3. Assess pupil progress, diagnose needs and develop materials and/or lessons that address these needs.

Weeks Six – Thirteen

Provide the student teacher with opportunities to:

  1. Gradually increase the load until a full teaching load has been assigned.
  2. Assume responsibility for total planning and teaching for a minimum of two weeks.
  3. Plan, implement, and evaluate units of instruction.
  4. Participate in parent conferences, planning sessions, staff meetings, and all supervisory responsibilities.
  5. Meet with you regularly to evaluate progress.

Weeks Thirteen – Fifteen

Provide the student teacher with opportunities to:

  1. Gradually decrease the load.
  2. Reflect on growth as a teacher
  3. Recommend other classrooms in which the student teacher can observe as well as resources the student teacher can develop into a file.
  4. Complete their portfolio.
  5. Complete final evaluation conference.

For a list of expectations and assignments that your student teacher will be required to complete, select “Student Teaching Requirements“  in Key Resources below.

Conferencing with the Student Teacher

One of the most important aspects of guiding a student teacher is feedback.  The student teaching experience needs to be undergirded with a strong conference structure.  It is in this phase of student teaching that student teachers receive the individual guidance from competent professionals which enables them to analyze their growing understanding of the relationship between theory and practice.  With appropriate guidance during conferencing, the student teacher will be able to organize, assimilate, synthesize, and reflect on the student teaching experiences.  It is is important to have a regular daily or weekly time to meet, as well as conferencing following observations.  The following suggestions should facilitate the desired results from the conferencing time:

  1. Schedule conferences after each significant teaching performance at a time/location when there will be minimal interruptions.
  2. Make feedback a problem-centered analysis of student teaching performance and include both positive comments and constructive criticism leading to the improvement of weaknesses.  The basis for comments should be derived from the cooperating teachers’s observations of lesson plans, presentations, classroom/behavior management skills, and performance of other teacher-related duties.
  3. Encourage the student teacher to ask questions regarding observations/feedback.
  4. Guide the student teacher in considering alternative ways of doing the same thing to promote effective teaching strategies and flexibility.
  5. Foster self-evaluation during constructive criticism by asking questions beginning with “Why do you think…?”  These questions will elicit responses that encourage the student teacher to analyze performance and develop reflection skills.
  6. Make specific suggestions for improving identified weaknesses when the student teacher is unable to offer suitable strategies.
  7. Identify a primary focus for the next observation that the student teacher should concentrate on for improvement.  Give a copy of the observation notes to the student teacher and keep one in a file.

Special Conferences

The cooperating teacher should not hesitate to contact the university supervisor for a conference regarding the progress of the student teacher if necessary.  The student teacher’s future as well as the future of education depends on a successful student teaching experience.  Addressing problem areas quickly provides opportunity for correction and redirection.  If the student teacher is in danger of being unable to complete his/her student teaching experience successfully, the university supervisor and the school administration should be informed immediately. Maryville uses a Problem Solving Protocol that should help all parties in solving problems between various parties; please make use of this if problems arise!

Visitation by the University Supervisor

The University Supervisor will observe the student teacher frequently, write formal observations of the student teacher’s progress, and discuss the results with the student teacher in a conference following the observations.  The cooperating teacher will be included in the initial and final evaluation conferences and at other times as necessary.

Related Professional Activities

The student teaching experience should not be limited to the classroom.  Cooperating teachers should arrange for the student teacher to observe/participate in a variety of school-related activities to enhance the teacher preparation process regarding the total school environment and teaching responsibilities.

These additional experiences should include:

  • Arranging for the student teacher to observe instruction in at least two other areas when appropriate.
  • Inviting student teachers to staff meetings, P.T.O., Student Support Team and other special meetings, including curriculum,   professional, etc., parent conferences, and extracurricular events/duties.
  • Asking the student teacher to assist in monitoring students during morning, lunch, and bus duty.
  • Having student teachers involved in planning/chaperoning field trips or assembly programs.

Formal Evaluation of the Student Teacher

Evaluation should be an ongoing process throughout the student teaching experience.  The cooperating teacher should conduct regular, formal observations of the student teacher’s teaching at least once per week in addition to daily feedback.  A written record of observations and conference notes should be kept by the cooperating teacher and used in conferencing and evaluating the student teacher.  A mid-term evaluation conference may be held with the university supervisor if it is deemed appropriate. Cooperating teachers are welcome to use an optional Ongoing Student Teacher Evaluation form to provide weekly feedback structured around the student teaching evaluation goals.

A final evaluation conference between the university supervisor and the cooperating teacher will be held at the conclusion of the semester to evaluate the student teaching experience.  Although final responsibility for grading student teachers rests with the university supervisor, the evaluations of the cooperating teacher will be utilized in determining the final grade.  The cooperating teacher is to complete the Student Teaching/Internship Assessment Form and give it to the university supervisor.  This becomes a part of the student’s field experience record.  Data is also gathered from this form and used by the faculty to review our teacher education program and guide us in making improvements.

Writing Reference Letters

Your student teacher may request that you write a letter of reference for them to use in their job search.  Writing letters of reference is a serious obligation, involving not only the student teacher but also the students she or he will teach some day.  Recommendations need to be a fair and truthful presentation of the student’s qualifications.  Descriptive information and specific examples will individualize the person about whom it is written.  See below for a few suggested areas to mention:

  1. A description of the setting in which the student teacher worked.
  2. A brief description of the range of the student’s activities during the semester including examples of lessons or units taught, subject areas taught, and modes of instruction utilized.
  3. Knowledge of content and developmental levels of pupils, including examples of how content was adapted to the particular pupils taught.
  4. Relationships with pupils and skills in classroom management.
  5. Human relations and interpersonal skills, both in terms of individual differences in pupils and relations with adults.
  6. Initiative, dependability, and commitment to teaching.
  7. A summary of the student teacher’s general success and potential as a practitioner.

University Supervisors

The Role of the University Supervisor

The University Supervisor is the representative of the university who is responsible for the supervision of the student teacher and serves as a liaison between the university and the personnel of the cooperating schools, promoting a positive relationship between the university and the schools.  The task of the university supervisor is to orient the student teacher and cooperating teacher to the student teaching program, to supervise the student teacher in becoming an effective teacher, to counsel the student teacher in developing her/his own philosophy, to encourage reflection on the student teaching experience, and to evaluate the student teacher.

School Visits

The Supervisory Conference Cycle

During the student teaching experience, the university supervisor will conduct four to six formal observations of the student teacher.  These observations will be preceded by a pre-conference and followed by a post-conference.  The recommended length is one hour or one complete lesson.

The supervisory conference cycle is designed to facilitate reflection in and on professional practice.  During a supervisory conference, student teachers are encouraged to reflect upon classroom practice and about the classroom, school and community within which they work.  It is preferred that the supervisory team, consisting of the student teacher, the cooperating teacher, and the university supervisor, share roles in the process described below, which may be varied or adapted to meet specific needs and situations.

The purpose of the supervisory conference cycle is to promote the student teacher’s growth and development through the critical analysis of teaching practices in a manner consistent with the goals of the program.  Specific areas for analysis might include an examination of (1) pedagogical intentions and the relationship between the intentions and observable classroom behaviors, (2) content and teaching methods and their justification in light of effective teaching practices as determined by research, (3) unanticipated outcomes and their relationship to a “hidden curriculum”, (4) the institutional and societal contexts which undergird instructional decisions and practices and their relationship to a larger universe of possibilities.  The framework for such analysis may be accomplished through appropriate modifications of the clinical supervision model, which serves as the base for the supervisory component of the program.

The appropriate conferencing format will be based upon and adapted to the individual needs/goals of each student teacher; any of the following components may be utilized:

  1. Pre-conference
    1. Learning outcomes
    2. Presentation methods
    3. Instructional materials
    4. Special learner considerations
  2. Observation Focus and Method
    1. Determine focus cooperatively, referring to student teacher’s goals and previous observations.
    2. Determine method:  script writing, interaction analysis, checklist, etc.
  3. Post Observation Analysis
    1. Analysis of observation information
    2. Formulate guidance for reflection
  4. Post Observation Conference
    1. Supervisor guides student teacher through reflective action, examining intentions, teacher and student behaviors, unanticipated events, and the lesson in relation to consequences, alternative possibilities and universal influences.
  5. Assessment of Professional Growth
    1. Assess individual goal attainment
    2. Select new goals and a course of action

The overall strategy is intended to help student teachers think critically about their teaching practices, their experiences in school and the broader context within which schools functions.  The conferencing component is viewed as being  developmental in nature, thus encouraging expanded sophistication in both conceptualizing and enacting teaching.  The university supervisor should move from a directive orientation, delineating direct “First Aid” advice, to a collaborative orientation, working together to see relationships, generate alternatives, and draw conclusions, to a non-directive orientation, as the student sets the agenda and formulates the questions for observation and discussion.   The university supervisor needs to encourage the student teacher to progress through the developmental sequence toward the desired end result of improved instructional practice.

Three-Way Conferences

Besides supervisory conferences for observations, it is suggested that there be 2 to 3 three-way conferences during the semester:  (1) to share initial goals and expectations;  (2) to evaluate progress at midterm; and (3) for final evaluation.

1. Establishing Goals

The first three-way conference should take place within the first two weeks of the semester.  The student teacher, cooperating teacher, and university supervisor make up the triad and each should come to the conference prepared to share their plans, goals, and expectations for the semester.  As a result of the conference, the student teacher should be able to clearly state his/her own goals and the mutually agreed-upon expectations for each person.  Additionally, a tentative timeline for the semester, indicating how the student  teacher will gradually assume classroom responsibilities, should be discussed and approved.

2.  Mid-term Evaluation

A three-way conference at the mid-point of the semester may  focus on the progress of the student teacher in relation to the general program requirements and the expectations for each person.  Specific areas to consider are:

  1. A general review of the experiences of the student teacher to date;
  2. Strengths demonstrated by the student teacher;
  3. Areas the student teacher needs to work on during the second half of the semester;
  4. An action plan for the rest of the semester if appropriate.

The mid-term conference may be coordinated with a supervisory observation.

3.  Final Evaluation

The final evaluation should be discussed at a three-way conference at the end of the semester.  Using the criteria outlined in the student teaching evaluation form, the triad should analyze the strengths and weaknesses and progress of the student teacher over the course of the semester.  Specific examples of accomplishments by the student teacher should be cited, along with areas of continuing growth.  All three members of the triad should sign each of the evaluation forms.

Writing Reference Letters

Your student teacher may request that you write a letter of reference for them to use in their job search.  Writing letters of reference is a serious obligation, involving not only the student teacher but also the students she or he will teach some day.  Recommendations need to be a fair and truthful presentation of the student’s qualifications.  Descriptive information and specific examples will individualize the person about whom it is written.  See below for a few suggested areas to mention:

  1. A description of the setting in which the student teacher worked.
  2. A brief description of the range of the student’s activities during the semester including examples of lessons or units taught, subject areas taught, and modes of instruction utilized.
  3. Knowledge of content and developmental levels of pupils, including examples of how content was adapted to the particular pupils taught.
  4. Relationships with pupils and skills in classroom management.
  5. Human relations and interpersonal skills, both in terms of individual differences in pupils and relations with adults.
  6. Initiative, dependability, and commitment to teaching.
  7. A summary of the student teacher’s general success and potential as a practitioner.

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