Responsibilities of the Cooperating Teachers

Cooperating Teachers must have the Clinical Educator Training, at least three years of successful teaching experience and evidence of reaching Highly Effective Professional Status. Florida Gulf Coast University appreciates the time and effort involved in fulfilling the complex role of the cooperating teacher.  This role involves mentoring and evaluating the teaching practice and dispositions of the teacher candidate but cooperating teachers will also fulfill a number of other roles: role model, guide, advisor and colleague.  Some of the most important roles involve initiating the candidate into the professional and established norms of the school culture, sharing your wisdom and expertise, and respecting and encouraging innovations.  Remember, this is a new situation for the teacher candidate, he/she might not have a sense of what to expect or where he/she will fit into the “scheme of things.” Do not assume that the teacher candidate has background knowledge specific to your classroom situation, by being specific in your directions and expectations you and the candidate will experience less anxiety.  Consider working with the student teacher as a co-teacher, plan and teach lessons as a team embracing the Gradual Release of Responsibility paradigm for most of the student teaching experience.  Co-planning and co-teaching are effective ways to model sound techniques and better guarantee a quality experience for all.  As you prepare to assume this role, the Internship Office hopes you find this list of expectations helpful.


The cooperating teacher is expected to:

  • Demonstrate a positive attitude towards all learners and a belief that all students can learn.
  • Prepare your students and families for the arrival of the teacher candidate.
  • Model professionalism through appearance and relationships with colleagues.
  • Maintain open communication with the candidate and the university supervisor.
  • Define expectations in a reasonable and clear manner, establish an atmosphere of mutual trust and respect which will lead to a strong collaborative partnership.
  • Demonstrate how the Sunshine State Standards and the Florida Educator Accomplished Practices are used on a daily basis in planning, teaching, assessing and reflecting.
  • Provide opportunities for the candidate to interact with families and the community in meaningful ways.
  • Explain the role of all school personnel to the candidate and how each supports the classroom community, facilitate introductions to school personnel.
  • Provide the teacher candidate with appropriate textbooks and reference materials for review and use.
  • Provide the emergency and safety plan to the teacher candidate.
  • Identify health issues of any classroom student, allergies, diabetes, epilepsy etc.
  • Provide teacher candidate information about attendance, grading policies and procedures.
  • Exchange contact information with the teacher candidate and a procedure to follow if the teacher candidate is absent.
  • Share and demonstrate ways to meet the needs of diverse learners.
  •  Share IEP information with the candidate.
  • Preview and observe lessons and provide constructive feedback on a daily basis.
  • Supervise the DAILY activities of the intern:
    • Expect detailed and functional lesson plans (College of Education format) which includes the Sunshine State Standards, Goal Three Standards, and ESOL strategies.
    • Examine lesson plans for the upcoming week (two days prior to expected implementation of plans).
    • Provide feedback regarding the use of classroom management techniques and organization skills.
    • Confer frequently on essential elements or techniques keeping in mind the formative process and positive reinforcement.
    • Give specific suggestions for flexibility in planning; accepting a different teaching style or technique than your own.
  • Help the teacher candidate focus on their impact on student learning as well as on their own professional development.
  • Assist the candidate in maintaining a classroom management plan.
  • Meet with the university supervisor and the candidate to complete assessment instruments and to resolve issues relating to the experience.
  • Complete all evaluation forms in collaboration with the university supervisor and teacher candidate.
  • Sign and return all contracts to the university.

Guidelines for Orientating a Student Teacher into the Classroom

  • Include the Student Teacher in classroom activities and experiences gradually from the very beginning.
  • Prepare the class for a Student Teacher prior to his/her arrival. Properly introduce him/her as a co-worker, not as an aide.
  • Familiarize the Student Teacher with the school facilities, resources and policies regarding the use of materials and equipment.
  • Provide a separate work/study area (perhaps a desk) in the classroom for the Student Teacher.
  • Include Student Teachers in faculty and curriculum meetings when appropriate. This is where they begin to learn about their roles as leaders in the profession.
  • Provide the Student Teacher with a set of textbooks, teachers’ manuals, curriculum guides, or school handbooks as needed.
  • Explain to the Student Teacher the methods of record keeping for attendance, grades, conduct, cumulative folders, etc.
  • Demonstrate to the Student Teacher how to devise lesson plans and how to use many different resources and ideas. Tell the student why you use the materials and their purpose and why you teach as you do. Help the Student Teacher to raise questions when doing his/her own planning of lessons.
  • Demonstrate the use of curriculum guides and teachers’ manuals for your grade level. Students have had varying amounts of instruction on such procedures.
  • Choose a particular time for planning on a daily and weekly basis. A Student Teacher will need close supervision and a lot of assistance in the initial stages of making lesson plans. It is also helpful early in the semester to do long-range planning and schedule the weeks for full respon­sibility.
  • Explain discipline policies to the Student Teacher from the very beginning. Indicate how a situation will be handled if a student misbehaves and both of you are in the classroom. Whose responsibility is it to discipline?
  • Provide frequent evaluations in written as well as verbal form. Remember to offer praise as well as constructive criticism. Be very specific in evaluations and offer sugges­tions for teaching methods, habits, grammar usage, organiza­tion, etc. Some teachers and interns like to use a notebook for an on-going "conversation" of comments and questions as the internship progresses. This may be used in addition to the University forms that are used on a weekly basis.
  • Be prepared to give step-by-step guidance. The transition from the University to the classroom is difficult and may require repeated explanations of detailed procedures in the classroom.
  • When appropriate, include the Student Teacher in parent conferences or telephone conversations. Guide him/her to use diplomacy and appropriate communication skills so that parent communication is effective.
  • Correct a Student Teacher’s mistakes after the lesson when the class cannot hear any comments being made. When an intern is corrected in front of the class his/her credibility is weakened and he/she is embarrassed unnecessarily. If need be, a note can be written to the student or some form of non­verbal communication can be used to call attention to an error.
  • Accept each Student Teacher as an individual and do not compare him/her with previous interns you have had. This places an unnecessary stress upon a Student Teacher when he/she frequently hears stories about how well "Susie or John" did as a Student Teacher.
  • Gradually give the intern some freedom so that he/she can have a feeling of independence and a chance to learn from his own mistakes. Leave the room for short intervals when the student is teaching to allow the Student Teacher to "try his wings".
  • Try not to convey to the Student Teacher that you expect perfection or that you do not trust him with your students.  Student Teachers are very vulnerable and sensitive to your approval and acceptance. Some become so concerned about pleasing you that they forget to focus upon the children and often create a self-fulfilling prophecy of "I can't do it right". Help them to see beyond "How am I doing?" to "How are the children doing?"
  • Remember to ask the Student Teacher for his/her opinion in some matters and be sure to give the intern credit when he/she generates suggestions and ideas that can be used in the classroom.

Possible Difficulties Experienced By a Student Teacher

  • ANXIETY - It is a new situation. The student does not know exactly what to expect or where he will fit into the scheme of things. The real classroom is quite different from the college classroom. Please explain everything in great detail. Please do not assume that the student should know all that you know.
  • TIME MANAGEMENT –Student Teachers do not have a sense of how much time it will take to carry out a lesson or a single procedure. Please give guidelines and suggestions about a lesson length and how to gauge time limits while teaching. Help the Student Teacher to become aware of student needs during a lesson. They become so caught up in covering the lesson that they forget to notice that the students are no longer involved.
  • TRANSITIONING - Tips on how to transition smoothly between lesson activities will be helpful so that class discipline does not become overwhelming.
  • GIVING INSTRUCTIONS – Help Student Teachers to give detailed, step-by-step instructions to students. Also help them to know when to give instructions -- before or after materials are passed out, before the bell rings, etc.
  • AWARENESS OF THE WHOLE CLASS –Student Teachers  become so caught up in teaching the lesson they forget to notice what is happening in the back of the room or that only a few students are answering all of the questions. Help them to teach students - not just lessons.
  • DISCIPLINE – Student Teachers often are not sure what to do, so they do not do anything about discipline problems or they desperately do something that may alienate the students. Please give  the Student Teacher the guidelines you wish to be followed in your classroom for discipline. Student Teachers  also feel uncomfortable disciplining a student when the teacher is in the room. Work out with him or her how you will handle discipline problems when both of you are in the room. Who is responsible for keeping order at specific times?

 

Ideas to Encourage Reflective Dialogue

During your feedback sessions, encourage your team to be reflective concerning the following domains. Have your Student Teacher explain, support, or even justify her/his:

Instructional Planning, Teaching Effectiveness, and Academic Preparation

For a Weekly checklist and Suggested Teaching Schedule please refer to the Student Teaching Handbook which is available on this website.

To access the Student Teaching Handbook please click the link below:

Student Teaching Handbook