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Cooperating Teachers

University Coordinators Clinical.jpgThe importance of the Cooperating Teacher’s role in clinical experiences cannot be emphasized enough. 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 Competency Teachers are essential to this process, and their advice and guidance are invaluable to teacher candidates.

  • Master’s degree or Bachelor’s degree with significant progress toward completion of a Master’s Degree
  • Interest in working with the Teacher Candidate
  • Minimum of three years successful teaching experience
  • Holder of a Professional Teaching Certificate
  • Recommendation of the building Principal
  • Additional Consideration
  • Number of years in the field
  • Content area
  • Student evaluations
  • Notes from Coordinator's in the field
  • Faculty input
  • The Pre-Student Teaching Field Experience is the second of three field components in the Teacher Education Program. The Pre-Student Teacher is in the midst of their Professional Education coursework and is enrolled in content method, theory, and management coursework. Each Teacher Candidate is partnered with a P-12 classroom teacher (Cooperating Teacher) for a ten-week, 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.
  • The Student Teaching Field Experience is the third of three field components in the Teacher Education Program. The teacher candidate has completed most of their coursework and they are prepared to become fully immersed into the classroom with the guidance of the Cooperating Teacher. Often times it is a gradual process for one to assume greater responsibility in the classroom. The Cooperating Teacher will provide considerable support and direction as the Student Teacher’s responsibilities are increased. In a collaborative classroom, the Cooperating Teacher will remain in the classroom, but will be transitioning the planning to the Student Teacher with the primary focus on student learning.
  • The University Coordinators coordinate efforts with building Principals to secure placements for all Pre-Student Teaching and Student Teaching candidates, 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. University Coordinators are the only staff approved to make placements.
  • Placements are scheduled by email through the Center for Clinical Experiences before the field experience begins. The Cooperating Teacher may voluntarily agree to host a Student Teacher, or they are recommended by their building Principal. The Pre-Student Teacher may change the day/time of their placement only if the Cooperating Teacher agrees to the change.
  • 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 Student Teacher will work well during their assignment, and the Student Teacher must feel comfortable in order to finalize the assignment. No placement is considered final until after the prospective Cooperating Teacher, Building Principal and Student Teacher have completed the Visitation/Interview Day.
  • The Cooperating Teacher can assist CMU Teacher Candidates in the following ways:
  • 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.
  • Share information about routines and behavior procedures.
  • Share 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.
  • Develop strong lines of communication.
  • How to handle problem situations as they occur.
  • Reporting to parents and parent conferences, if applicable to field experience.
  • 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. Pre-Student Teaching candidates should experience planning, teaching and evaluation of activities by actively participating in learning process with students and the cooperating teacher. It is also beneficial for Pre-Student Teachers 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, 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 state of Michigan is placing a stronger emphasis 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 be arranged in order to ensure open lines of communication, as this is a significant component of a successful clinical experience.
  • A Teacher Candidate has minimal experience within a classroom following their pre-service experience; however, they are yet to experience a full day in 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 Student Teacher 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 Student Teachers 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 Student Teacher 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 Student Teacher in charge of the room for short and then increasingly longer periods of time, provided that the Student Teacher 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 Student Teacher 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
  • 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 Student Teacher 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 Student Teacher 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.
  • Develop 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 Student Teacher 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.
  • Observations Pre-Student Teaching Experiences
  • When it is determined that the Pre-Student Teacher is capable of classroom leadership, we encourage the Cooperating Teacher require the Pre-Student Teacher to plan a minimum of two lessons. A Cooperating Teacher is asked to use their professional judgment on what they believe the Pre-Student Teacher is proficient in doing. Please keep in mind that teacher candidates are in the midpoint of the Professional Education Sequence so we encourage the Pre-Student Teachers to seek every opportunity to build their classroom skills, when allowed by their Cooperating Teachers.
  • A Cooperating Teacher may choose to team teach with their Pre-Student Teacher, or have the teacher candidate instruct small groups. A Cooperating Teacher may choose to have the Pre-Student Teacher deliver a lesson that has been planned by the Cooperating Teacher, School District, or have the Pre-Student Teacher write an original lesson plan. In any situation, the Pre-Student Teacher 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 Pre-Student Teacher 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 Pre-Student Teacher that is a part of the School Districts materials). Teacher Candidates should have the necessary skill level to deliver a lesson independently.
  • Cooperating Teachers are encouraged to involve the Pre-Student Teacher in the classroom to what the Cooperating Teacher believes to be the student’s maximum ability level. 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 instruction. Whether the Pre-Student Teacher 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 in weeks 4-6 of fieldwork, and again in weeks 8-10. The Pre-Student Teacher will present evaluation forms to the Cooperating Teacher to fill out regarding what the Pre-Student Teacher has accomplished in the classroom.
  • Any lesson that a Pre-Student Teacher 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 Pre-Student Teacher may use classroom approved video clips, Cooperating Teacher sanctioned materials, or electronic presentations (if the presentation is the original work of the Pre-Student Teacher).
  • Again, should a Cooperating Teacher find that their Pre-Student Teacher is not capable in handling their placement; the Cooperating Teacher should immediately contact the Center for Clinical Experiences. It is imperative that the Pre-Student Teacher be actively engaged in the host classroom as many ways as possible.
  • ​​​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 Student Teacher 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 Student Teacher
    • Help the Student Teacher to become self-directive, 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 Student Teacher is more perceptive and knows what to look for in a lesson. This does not mean that the student teacher is only observing and not taking part in the classroom activities. The Student Teacher should be encouraged to take notes on what is observed. The Student Teacher’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. What the Student Teacher is observing is exactly what the administrator, Cooperating Teacher, University Coordinator observes when they visit a classroom. Those areas are identified below to help the student teacher identify what is important in an observation.
  • 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.
  • Midterm Evaluation, which is completed approximately four to six weeks into the ten week experience by the Cooperating Teacher to gauge the progress of the Pre-Student Teacher and areas that will be focused on during the rest of the field experience.
  • Final Evaluation, is a summative assessment which consists of a rating scale and a narrative of the student’s level of performance in the categories of the Professionalism and Pedagogy. The four to six-week evaluation and the final evaluation almost mirror each other.
  • Ongoing evaluation, takes place every two to three weeks through electronic Survey Forms to the Cooperating Teacher to monitor candidate progress. These evaluations represent the daily and weekly formative assessment of a Pre-Student Teacher’s growth toward the fulfillment of professional goals and objectives.
  • Evaluation of the Student Teacher should be a continuous and cooperative process. If the evaluations are done continuously, cooperatively and constructively, the Student Teacher 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.
  • The evaluation will be continuous processes to help the Student Teacher 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 Student Teacher is critical for growth and better teaching and planning in future lessons.
  • Evaluation should be done throughout the entire placement period. The Student Teacher 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 Student Teacher benefits when s/he has an active part in the evaluative procedures that take place in an open and cooperative manner.
  • Share 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.
  • Identify the difference between the use of evaluation procedures for the developmental growth of the Student Teacher 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 Student Teacher’s strengths and areas for improvement, but of his/her professional desires and potential as well. Two formal electronic evaluations of the Student Teacher are required by CMU. One is done at four weeks (Progress Evaluation) and one will be done at the end of the semester (Final Evaluation).
  • Situations may arise from time to time. All concerns should be addressed as soon as possible. The Cooperating Teacher and the Student Teacher should work collaboratively to resolve the issues at hand. The University Coordinator will be available if needed.
  • Formal Evaluation is a measure of how well a person is doing on a day-to-day basis, while summative evaluation measures how well a person has done after a period of time. During student teaching the emphasis is on formative evaluation, but this process should provide the basis for summative evaluation at the end of student teaching. The major focus of all evaluations is to assist student teachers to develop the skills, knowledge, and dispositions of a professional educator.
  • At the end of the fourth week of the student teaching the Cooperating Teacher and the Student Teacher will complete a detailed Progress Evaluation of the student teacher's progress. Copies of those evaluations are sent electronically to the University Coordinator. They do this independently, print a copy, and meet with each other to discuss strengths, areas for growth, and to make a plan for future success.
  • The Student Teaching Final Evaluation is completed online and matches the Progress Evaluation. The Student Teacher will begin the process by filling in the top of the evaluation, including his/her name, school, district, etc. After the Student Teacher has completed his/her part, the evaluation is sent electronically via emailed to the Cooperating Teacher. 
  • The Cooperating Teacher will receive an email stating that the Final Evaluation has been started and is waiting to be completed. As soon as the Cooperating Teacher completes his/her section, the Final Evaluation will be sent electronically via email to the University Coordinator for their comments. Notification of the completed Final Evaluation will be sent to The Center for Clinical Experiences, the University Coordinator, and 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.
  • During the final few weeks of the field experience, there will be a gradual transition of responsibilities from the Student Teacher back to the Cooperating Teacher. This will allow time for the Student Teacher to:
  • Complete all classroom teaching responsibilites
  • Finalize all assignments and grading
  • Observe in other teachers' classrooms and relfect on lessons
  • 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. Parallel Teaching
  • 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. Alternative/Differentiated Teaching
  • 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. Team Teaching
  • 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!
  • ​​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
  • ​​Make your ST comfortable. Welcome the Student Teacher as a “Co-Teacher” even prior to the first day of school. If a Student Teaching Candidate, make sure he/she attends Professional Development days or Teacher Preparation days as a colleague; invite him/her to help prepare the room for the school year, when applicable. 
  • Involvement in the classroom. Immediately get the Student Teacher involved in all activities as a co-teacher; encourage the teacher candidate to share ideas at team meetings and staff in-service meetings. 
  • Team teach. Begin from day one to interact as a team, as co-teachers, especially in front of the students.  Try supplemental teaching, where one works with a small group while the other works with the whole group either for remedial work or extensions for advanced learners or team teaching where both teachers are actively involved. 
  • ​​Get your ST acclimated to the classroom. Have a space ready, a table with office supplies and copies of teacher editions.  Have a folder ready with important information such as your email, phone number, school contact information, parking, the daily schedule, emergency procedures. 
  • Clear expectations. Prepare a rough schedule of the expectations for the first week or more. 
  • New trends and strategies. Hold the student teacher responsible for informing you of new trends and strategies coming out of the University. 
  • Utilizing your ST. Avail yourself of the extra set of hands and take the Opportunity to “divide and conquer”.  Think about many different models to use at different times of the day or different subjects or different days
  • Time well spent. Use any extra time you may have otherwise spent planning or grading to revamp your own materials or strategies.
  • Thank you! Everyone in the educational community has an effect on the overall learning of our students and you are helping to mentor your future colleagues.
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    ​For more information

    Center for Clinical Experiences
    College of​​ Education and Human Services
    Central Michigan University
    421 Education Building
    Mt. Pleasant, MI 48859

     ​989-774-7662 ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​
    ​​​​​​ ​​​
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