The importance of the Cooperating Teacher’s role in clinical experiences cannot be over-emphasized. The collaborative efforts between the University and the schools are critical to the success of field experiences. We value and appreciate the level of support provided to our students by the Cooperating Teacher throughout the training process. Both the Cooperating Teacher and University representatives will make observations and provide the teacher candidate with feedback on a regular basis to prepare them for their profession. Master Cooperating Teachers are essential to this process, and their advice and guidance are invaluable to teacher candidates.
Minimum Requirements for Cooperating Teachers
Minimum Qualifications of Cooperating Teachers
- Demonstrated mentorship dispositions, exceptional communication skills, and experience providing adults feedback for improvement
- Knowledgeable of subject matter and able to model effective pedagogy
- Sensitive to diverse perspectives
- Involved in educational committees or professional advisory councils
- Valid Teaching Certificate with three years successful teaching experience (minimum) or recommendation by CMU faculty
- Approval by building administrator
- Master’s Degree in Education
- Familiar with the teacher education process
- Participates in local, regional, state, and/or national professional organization
The Center for Clinical Experiences also will consider the following information when making decisions regarding placements with Cooperating Teachers. Our goal is to be strategic to protect the valuable contributions of Cooperating Teachers and provide Teacher Candidates with exemplary, well-rounded experiences.
- Number of years in the field
- Frequency of hosting candidates
- Content area and/or Certifications
- Past candidate evaluations and feedback
- Notes from Coordinators in the field
- CMU Faculty input
- Demonstrated commitment to Co-Teaching and the Teacher Preparation Program
The Pre-Student Teaching Field Experience
- During Pre-Student Teaching, the Teacher Candidate is enrolled in content method, theory, and management coursework. Each Teacher Candidate is partnered with a P-12 classroom teacher (Cooperating Teacher) for a comprehensive, classroom commitment. The CMU Teacher Education Program provides opportunities for teacher candidates to be exposed to the field as much as possible, with certified and recommended teachers. Elementary Education Teacher Candidates and their cooperating teachers participate in a co-teaching field experience including foundational and pairs workshops.
The Student Teaching Experience
- The 16 week Student Teaching Field Experience is the final field experience in the Teacher Education Program. At this point in the program, the teacher candidate has completed most of their coursework and becomes fully immersed into the classroom under the guidance of the Cooperating Teacher. Most often, the teacher candidates slowly progress during their placement, assuming greater responsibility in the classroom over the span of the experience. The Cooperating Teacher will provide considerable support and direction as the Teacher Candidate’s responsibilities are increased. We believe a collaborative classroom where the Cooperating Teacher remains in the classroom and transitions the planning to the Teacher Candidate is best practice and maintains a primary focus on student learning.
What You Should Know About Placements
Representatives on behalf of the Center for Clinical Experiences coordinate efforts with building Principals to secure placements for all Teacher Candidates in Pre-Student Teaching and Student Teaching, general education and special education. Teacher Candidates are free to request or suggest schools for placement, but are not permitted to set up their own placement.
Cooperating Teachers may contact the Center for Clinical Experiences volunteering to host a Teacher Candidate or may be recommended by their building Principal or a CMU faculty. All placements are subject to administrative approval by the building principal and Director of Clinical Experiences or designee. Placement emails are sent at the start of the semester for confirmation by the Center for Clinical Experiences before the field experience begins.
Before a student teaching placement can be solidified, the Teacher Candidate must interview with the potential Cooperating Teacher(s) and building Principal(s). The importance of this procedure is critical to the success of the Teacher Candidate and the school. The Cooperating Teacher(s) and Principal(s) must feel that the Teacher Candidate will work well during their assignment, and the Teacher Candidate must feel comfortable in order to finalize the assignment.
No placement is considered final until after the prospective Cooperating Teacher, Building Principal and Teacher Candidate have completed the Visitation/Interview Day.
Teacher Candidates in Student Teaching are expected to be in the classroom full-time and follow the district calendar. Elementary Teacher Candidates are to report to their placements for the full days following the schedule established under the supervision of the EDU 380 Faculty. A Secondary Teacher Candidate in Pre-Student Teaching may change the day/time of their placement only if the Cooperating Teacher agrees to the change. These changes should be reflected on the attendance sheet and in the Placement Verification assignment.
Orientation to the Classroom
The Cooperating Teacher can assist the Teacher Candidates become familiar with the classroom by:
- Share seating charts so the Teacher Candidate can learn to associate student names and faces.
- Share books, resources and curriculum materials.
- Provide a personal desk space for the Teacher Candidate’s use.
- Sharing information about routines and behavior procedures.
- Sharing expectations of what the Teacher Candidate is to do while in the classroom, i.e., what time to arrive at school, appropriate dress, where to park, use of the copy machine, extracurricular activities and meetings to be attended, activities and responsibilities that he or she should begin to assume, etc.
- Developing strong lines of communication.
- Communicating how to handle problem situations as they occur.
- Reporting to parents and parent conferences, if applicable to field experience.
Expectations of Teacher Candidates
Pre-Student Teaching candidates are afforded the opportunity to experience a classroom setting and observe classroom teachers throughout their pre-service placement. The purpose of the setting is to gain experience working with individual students and small groups of students. Teacher Candidates in Pre-Student Teaching should experience planning, teaching and evaluation of activities by actively participating in the learning process with students and the cooperating teacher. It is also beneficial for Teacher Candidates in Pre-Student Teaching to experience some of the other aspects of teaching such as preparing bulletin boards, developing teaching materials, correcting papers, evaluating projects, and attending special functions. Finally, Teacher Candidates in Pre-Student Teachers should develop an awareness of practices used by experienced classroom teachers concerning classroom management and the maintenance of a positive classroom learning environment.
The recent changes to P-12 education in Michigan not only affect those currently teaching, but also affect those seeking a career in education. The Michigan Department of Education places high priority on Teacher Candidates spending greater amounts of time in the field they wish to teach. In addition, Cooperating Teachers are being held to higher accountability measures for all learning that occurs within their classroom. Considering these somewhat competing interests, the Cooperating Teacher has the authority to determine the level of involvement a Teacher Candidate has within a classroom. We trust the Cooperating Teacher will value their commitment to the Teacher Candidate’s success and together they will outline their individual expectations for the experience. We encourage frequent meetings or conferences in order to ensure open lines of communication, as this is a significant component of a successful clinical experience.
While a Teacher Candidate has minimal experience within a classroom following their pre-service experience, they are yet to experience the full scope of the life of a busy teacher. Therefore, support and guidance will be needed during the onset of the Student Teaching Experience. In order to best prepare Teacher Candidates for their own future classrooms, Cooperating Teachers are encouraged to provide assistance in the following areas:
- Descriptions of the subject matter that will be taught and what aspects of the program the Teacher Candidate will be responsible for implementing.
- Suggestions and tips for preparing learning activities and materials.
- An idea of what has happened to date in the educational life of the pupils.
- Aid in generating the broad goals, which must be reached in curricular areas, and in identifying resource materials - most Teacher Candidates start teaching by preparing a single lesson in a single subject area. They may work to modify the Cooperating Teacher's plan or develop their own. The Teacher Candidate and Cooperating Teacher may co-plan, co-teach, or use another model that favorably impacts student learning.
In collaboration with the Cooperating Teacher, the Teacher Candidate will transition from limited responsibility to eventually assuming the majority of the planning for the classroom, teaching load, and other related duties at approximately the second week of the clinical experience. The Cooperating Teacher should feel comfortable leaving the Teacher Candidate in charge of the room for short and then increasingly longer periods of time, provided that the Teacher Candidate is demonstrating progress in the development of teaching and classroom management skills and the needs of the students are being met. As these changes occur, the Cooperating Teacher will likely remain in the classroom to assist with students. It is beneficial for the Teacher Candidate to assume the lead role and the related responsibilities of a full-time educator in the classroom, so they are prepared for their own classroom in the future
For more information on our suggestions for transitioning during the Student Teaching experiences, see Tips for Success below.
The Teacher Candidate will benefit from information in the following areas:
- Overview of the past work of the class, or what the students bring to the class from past school years and areas that the teacher knows are new and traditionally difficult at the grade level or subject area -demonstrating how the present work fits into the long-range plans is useful for the beginning teacher.
- Family background information and help in locating cumulative records (CA60’s) may be beneficial to the Teacher Candidate.
- Collaborative planning is helpful and is encouraged throughout the placement.
- Learning to plan lessons effectively is one of the most important skills teacher candidates need to develop - one of the most difficult phases in learning to plan is to realize that the plan must be based upon a clearly identified learning objective(s) that includes the behavior and the content.
- Before the Teacher Candidate begins to instruct, both the Cooperating Teacher and the Teacher Candidate should set aside time to discuss the Cooperating Teacher’s lesson plans, so that the Teacher Candidate will better understand purposes as he/she observes the teaching styles of the Cooperating Teacher.
- When the Teacher Candidate begins to teach, the Cooperating Teacher will want to review and discuss plans and assist the Student Teacher with initial planning and suggestions for improvement of the lesson plans.
- All plans should be written out with details on the location of the teaching, reviewing behavior rules, movement of students within the lesson, and other details that the Cooperating Teacher does automatically, but is new to the Teacher Candidate.
- Teacher Candidates will need support in developing a number of teaching skills, such as questioning, leading discussions, locating information, and helping children learn.
- Schedule a meeting in order to prepare the teacher candidate for a special event with the class - the teacher candidate needs to be aware of why the activity is important, the expectations for the students, and the role of the teacher candidate.
- Evaluating the work of the learners cooperatively will help the Teacher Candidate develop the ability to recognize and measure learner progress - the Teacher Candidate will require assistance in the area of understanding the philosophy and standards to be met in the evaluation of learners and in reporting progress to parents.
Observing the Classroom
- Lesson Delivery - Pre-Student Teaching Experiences
When it is determined that the Teacher Candidate in Pre-Student Teaching is capable of classroom leadership, we ask the Cooperating Teacher permit the Teacher Candidate in Pre-Student Teaching to plan and deliver a minimum of two lessons. A Cooperating Teacher is asked to use their professional judgment on what they believe the Teacher Candidate in Pre-Student Teaching is proficient in doing. Please keep in mind that teacher candidates are in the midpoint of the Professional Education Sequence, so the lesson delivery may be scaffolded to provide increased support.
A Cooperating Teacher may choose to team teach with their Teacher Candidate in Pre-Student Teaching, implement the Co-Teaching methods and strategies, or have the teacher candidate instruct small groups. A Cooperating Teacher may choose to have the Teacher Candidate in Pre-Student Teaching deliver a lesson that has been planned by the Cooperating Teacher, School District, or have the Teacher Candidate in Pre-Student Teaching write an original lesson plan. In any situation, the Teacher Candidate in Pre-Student Teaching is required to present the Cooperating Teacher with a typed lesson plan within an agreed upon time frame prior to the lesson being delivered. This is done to assure the Cooperating Teacher that the Teacher Candidate in Pre-Student Teaching has fully gone through and prepared for the lesson they are delivering (thus, Teacher Candidates must retype any lesson that the Cooperating Teacher may hand off to a Teacher Candidate in Pre-Student Teaching that is a part of the School Districts materials). Teacher Candidates should have the necessary skill level to deliver a lesson independently.
- Observations - Pre-Student Teaching Field Experiences
- Cooperating Teachers are encouraged to involve the Teacher Candidate in Pre-Student Teaching in the classroom to what the Cooperating Teacher believes to be the student’s maximum ability level. It is imperative that the Teacher Candidate in Pre-Student Teaching be actively engaged in the host classroom as many ways as possible. Please contact the Center for Clinical Experiences office if it becomes evident that the teacher candidate is not growing in their ability to independently lead students and provide instruction. Whether the Teacher Candidate in Pre-Student Teaching instructs a small or large group, CMU seeks feedback on how and what the teacher candidate and the CMU Teacher Education Program are doing. There will be formal and informal progress reviews completed at multiple points in the semester using Taskstream™.
Please note that any lesson that a Teacher Candidate in Pre-Student Teaching presents should not be dominated by a movie, video or pre-programmed CD/DVD. As supplemental material to the teaching of the assigned curriculum standards, a Teacher Candidate in Pre-Student Teaching may use classroom approved video clips, Cooperating Teacher sanctioned materials or electronic presentations (if the presentation is the original work of the Teacher Candidate in Pre-Student Teaching).
- Observations - Student Teaching Experiences (General Education and Special Education)
- An agreed upon weekly, or more often, conference time provides a designated time for both the Cooperating Teacher and Teacher Candidate to explore areas of interest, discuss the observed lesson, and focus on any concerns. To provide for an effective conference session, the following guidelines may prove helpful:
- Schedule specific times for regular, frequent conferences
- Discuss situations while still fresh in one’s mind
- Share the responsibilities for preparing conference materials/agendas
- Plan regularly for specific conference topics
- Keep documentation of conference results
- Treat all problems, no matter how seemingly insignificant, in a professional manner
- Treat all conferences as a useful tool in the development of the Teacher Candidate
- Help the Teacher Candidate to become self-directive and self-evaluative
A Student Teacher needs to observe the class and the Cooperating Teacher at all points throughout the experience, even toward the end, as the Teacher Candidate is more perceptive and knows what to look for in a lesson. This does not mean that the Teacher Candidate is only observing and not taking part in the classroom activities. The Teacher Candidate should be encouraged to take notes on what is observed. The Teacher Candidate’s job while observing is to learn something new every time and reflect on what they can integrate into their planning and management when they are developing and teaching a lesson in the future.
Observing the Cooperating Teacher
- How does the teacher start the lesson? How does he or she capture the students’ interest?
- How does the teacher make the purpose and relevance of the lesson apparent?
- What procedures are incorporated into the body of the lesson?
- What materials are used in the lesson?
- What is the teacher’s style of teaching?
- Is the lesson effective? What evidence is used to determine that?
- What provisions are made for individual differences?
- What disciplinary techniques does the teacher use? What ideas can the student teacher use?
- How does the teacher end the lesson? Do the students summarize or does the teacher do the work?
- What evaluation techniques are selected? List ways in which the teacher gives attention to the learning of each student during a discussion period.
- List examples of how the teacher steered the discussion back on track after a student comments or raised questions that temporarily sidetracked the discussion.
- Identify the techniques the teacher uses to motivate the lesson activities in a particular area.
- Identify the components of the lesson.
- What techniques are used to focus the attention of the learner?
- Identify ways that the teacher adapts the lesson to individual differences as the lesson progressed.
- How much of the lesson is review and how much is new work?
- How does the teacher make class drills interesting?
- Observing the students in the classroom
- To what extent do the students participate in the class?
- Is there a balance between teacher-oriented and student-oriented activities?
- Try to identify differences between and among students.
- Identify something positive about every student.
- How many students in the class begin work immediately upon receiving an assignment? How many “put off” the dreaded moment of beginning work? What techniques do they use to put off the work?
- List evidences of incorrect or hazy concepts and brainstorm ways they might have been clarified or prevented.
- Tally the number of times each student was called on during a period of time and the times the student voluntarily participated by asking a question or making a comment.
- Observe one particular student who is interesting or puzzling and record what the student was doing each minute for a given period of time. Analyze the activity pattern of the student. How much time was spent in purposeful activity? Identify the ways in which the student misused his/her time.
- Think about how you might group students for an activity with a partner or with a group of three students who will work together.
Pre-Student Teaching Evaluations
Final Evaluation, is a summative assessment aligned with The Danielson Model and the InTASC Standards adopted by the Michigan Department of Education for teacher preparation. The final evaluation focuses on four areas: 1) Preparation and Planning; 2) Classroom Environment; 3) Instruction; and 4) Professional Responsibility. The final evaluation will be completed at the end of the teacher candidate’s pre-student teaching experience. The evaluation will be completed in Taskstream™. Both the teacher candidate and the cooperating teacher will complete the evaluation.
Ongoing evaluation, takes place frequently during the experience through electronic Survey Forms to the Cooperating Teacher to monitor candidate progress. These evaluations represent the daily and weekly formative assessment of a Teacher Candidate in Pre-Student Teaching’s growth toward the fulfillment of professional goals and objectives.
Again, should a Cooperating Teacher find that their Teacher Candidate in Pre-Student Teaching is not capable in handling their placement; the Cooperating Teacher should immediately contact the Center for Clinical Experiences.
Student Teaching Evaluations
- That nature of Student Teaching lends itself to varied degrees of evaluation. Standardized evaluations collected during Student Teaching include a Mid-Progress and Final Evaluation in Taskstream™. Other evaluations of the Student Teacher are more continuous and cooperative in nature. If the evaluations are done constantly, cooperatively and constructively, the Teacher Candidate will have greater insight into his/her strengths and weaknesses as a teacher. Below are some suggestions to CONSIDER.
Decide together what is to be evaluated. One may wish to stress, for example, such things as planning and teaching skills, relationships, classroom management, personal qualities and characteristics, or professional attitudes and abilities. Having a conversation in advance regarding what areas will be the focus for the current phase of the placement aids in clarity of feedback. Rotating topics every couple of weeks ensures more areas are addressed.
- The evaluation will be continuous processes to help the Teacher Candidate evaluate his/her own progress. Consider such questions as: What seemed to go well? What should have been changed? How did you make transitions from one part of the lesson to another? How did you modify the lesson to meet the interests of the learner with whom you were working? What could have been done to improve this lesson? This reflection by the Teacher Candidate is critical for growth and better teaching and planning in future lessons.
- Evaluation should be done throughout the entire placement period. The Teacher Candidate benefits from frequent informal evaluation conferences with the Cooperating Teacher. The goal is to have an effective teacher who, because of his/her clinical experience, has started on the road to becoming an excellent professional educator.
- The development of the Student Teacher’s self-concept as a professional educator is of extreme importance. Consequently, the Teacher Candidate benefits when s/he has an active part in the evaluative procedures that take place in an open and cooperative manner.
- Identify the difference between the use of evaluation procedures for the developmental growth of the Teacher Candidate and the type of information which a prospective employer might wish to know about the student as a teacher. Written evaluations serve at least two purposes. On one hand, the evaluations are used for purposes of self-development. On the other hand, they are administrative devices for employment records. The written evaluations represent a comprehensive picture, not only of the Teacher Candidate’s strengths and areas for improvement, but of his/her professional desires and potential as well.
- Situations may arise from time to time. All concerns should be addressed as soon as possible. The Cooperating Teacher and the Teacher Candidate should work collaboratively to resolve the issues at hand. The University Coordinator will be available if needed.
Grading the Student Teacher
- General Education Student Teachers will receive CR/NC for EDU 458 and a letter grade for EDU 432. Both courses must be passed successfully (EDU 458 with “CR” and EDU 432 with C+ or better) in order to earn credit for either course. Five grades are possible for the student teaching field experience (EDU 458) at Central Michigan University.
- Special Education Student Teachers will receive a letter grade for SPE 522/581 and SPE 456/458. SPE 522/581 courses must be passed successfully in order to continue on to the student teaching course, SPE 456/458. The student teaching observations conducted by the University Coordinator along the professionalism checklists completed by the Cooperating Teacher represent 50% of your course grades.
The Final Weeks of Student Teaching
- During the final few weeks of the field experience, there will be a gradual transition of responsibilities from the Teacher Candidate back to the Cooperating Teacher. This will allow time for the Teacher Candidate to:
- Complete all classroom teaching responsibilities
- Finalize all assignments and grading
- Observe in other teachers' classrooms and relfect on lessons
How to Utilize your Teacher Candidate
- Most Teacher Candidates are ready to supplemental teach/co-teach. There are a variety of ways this might take place:
OnTeach, One Observe
- One teacher has primary instructional responsibility, while the other gathers specific observational information on students or the instructing teacher.,
- One teacher has primary instructional responsibility while the other assists student’ with their work, monitors behaviors, or corrects assignments.Teaching
- The co-teaching pair divide the instructional content into parts. Each teacher instructs one of the groups, groups then rotate or spend a designated amount of time at each station.
- Each teacher instructs half of the students. The two teachers are addressing the same instructional material using the same teaching strategies.Teaching
- One teacher works with students at their expected grade level, while the other teacher works with those students who need the information and or materials extended or remediated.
- Provides the opportunity for the teachers to teach the same instructional material using two different teaching strategies or approaches. The learning outcome is the same for all students however the avenue for getting there is different.
- Well planned, team taught lessons exhibit an invisible flow of instruction with no prescribed division of authority. Both teachers are actively involved in teaching the lesson and from a student’s perspective, there is no clearly defined leader as both teachers share in the instruction, are free to interject information, and available to assist students and answer questions.
- Thank you for helping mentor your future colleague!
Pre-Student Teaching Tips for Success
Make your PST comfortable. Welcome the Pre-Student Teacher into your classroom and orient him/her to the building, school policies and procedures, staff and students. Discuss your classroom rules and management.
Expectations of PS. Discuss with the Pre-Student Teacher your expectations of their role in your classroom.
A Co-Teaching Model
A co-teaching model. Welcome the Pre Student Teacher as a “co-teacher” even prior to the first day of the placement. From day one, develop a co-teaching team that works together for the benefit of the students. School Curriculum Overview. Provide an overview of the school/classroom curriculum.
Developing a PST. Allow your Pre-Student Teacher to briefly observe, then work collaboratively with candidate to lesson plan.
Create a collaborative environment. Discuss and reflect
on classroom observations and daily happenings. Establish an atmosphere where the Pre-Student Teacher is encouraged to ask questions and reflect on classroom practices including classroom management, routines, teaching style, and behavior management.
Building on strengths. Help the Pre-Student Teacher become aware of his or her strengths and guide them toward becoming a reflective professional. Suggest strategies for areas needing improvement.
Model best practices.
Assign responsibilities. Allow Pre-Student Teacher to assume responsibility, as soon as possible, for classroom routines. These may include: greeting and becoming acquainted with students, taking attendance, checking papers, etc.
The role of a PST. Take the Opportunity to “divide and conquer” the needs of your students. The following is a list of suggested roles a Pre-Student Teacher may fill in order to optimize the clinical experience:
Read to the class or small group
Re-teach or pre-teach a small group
Create game/teaching aid to reinforce current teaching
Help students edit/publish work
Assist in computer lab, gym, art, music during prep time
Construct bulletin board, display, or visual aid relating to current content
Discuss and participate in assessment practices
Provide feedback on student assignments
Develop lesson for existing unit
Teach part of lesson
Tutor for remediation or enrichment
Student Teaching Tips for Success
Make your Teacher Candidate comfortable. Cooperating Teachers are encouraged to welcome the Teacher Candidate into their classroom and orient him/her to the building, school policies and procedures, staff and students, and the classroom rules and management. Expectations of Teacher Candidate. Cooperating Teachers should clearly outline their expectations of their teacher candidate. Remember, Teacher Candidates are taking their final methods course and are novice practitioners.
A Co-Teaching Model. Cooperating teacher are encouraged to take advantage of the co-teaching foundations workshops offered by the Center for Clinical Experiences that prepares them to form a co-teaching team with their teacher candidate for the benefit of their students. School Curriculum Overview. Cooperating teachers should provide an overview of the school/classroom curriculum to the teacher candidate. Create a collaborative environment. Cooperating teachers can discuss and reflect on classroom observations and daily happenings while establishing an atmosphere where the Teacher Candidate is encouraged to ask questions and reflect on classroom practices including classroom management, routines, teaching style, and behavior management. Building on Strengths. Cooperating teachers can raise the Teacher Candidate’s awareness of his or her strengths and guide them toward becoming a reflective professional by suggesting strategies for areas needing improvement. Model best practices. Through co-teaching, the teacher candidate is afforded the opportunity to observe and participate as a partner with a cooperating teacher. Co-planning allows the teacher candidate to learn from their more experience cooperating teacher as they are mentored.Assign Responsibilities. Cooperating teachers should allow teacher candidates to assume responsibility, as soon as possible, for classroom routines and teaching tasks. These may include: greeting and becoming acquainted with students, taking attendance, checking papers, reading a story to a small group, leading a station or center, guiding student to specials, etc.