Cooperating Teachers: Selection, training, and model of collaboration
Field Services Department, Teacher Education Department, BYU-Idaho
Student Teaching Model
BYU-Idaho is using a new student teaching model in which cooperating teachers, instructional coaches, clinical faculty, school leaders, university faculty, and teacher candidates work together as part of a team. Cooperating teachers are given time to directly work with teacher candidates as their primary mentor, but also would benefit from the expertise of instructional coaches, clinical faculty, and university faculty who have special expertise in working with teacher candidates and increasing student learning in the classroom. Student learning must be central to all mentoring and teaching that occurs with candidates. Teacher candidates would be assigned in the building from 13 weeks - 9 months and can become resources in the school, augmenting the instructional program with graduated stages of responsibility as they progress.
Criteria for Selecting Cooperating Teachers
A Cooperating Teacher is an identified master teacher qualified to mentor a teacher candidate as part of a teacher preparation training program.
Cooperating Teachers must be experienced and highly competent teachers, and also have the skills and knowledge to help others learn to be effective teachers. In other words, besides being master teachers, cooperating teachers must be good mentors. These skill sets overlap, but are not the same. Listed below are the criteria that should be used by school leaders as they select cooperating teachers:
· Possesses the level of academic preparation recommended for the teaching position they occupy.
· Possesses full certification and teaches in the major area of preparation (is highly qualified).
· Has a minimum of three years teaching experience.
· Is recommended for this role by the school principal.
· Be familiar with Charlotte Danielson's framework and be familiar with using the framework criteria to observe and give feedback to mentees.
· Show evidence of mentor qualities including personal experience with adult learners, respect for/from peers, and knowledge of development sequences and processes.
· Be willing and able to schedule the time needed to give one-on-one mentoring of teacher candidates.
· Complete initial and on-going training for cooperating teachers on how to observe, evaluate, and mentor others, either from BYU-Idaho or through state initiative.
· Be able to build trust, rapport, and communication with teacher candidates, the university supervisor, and other stakeholders.
· The cooperating teacher is recognized as being innovative and practicing best practices in assessment, instruction, and professionalism.
· The teacher collaborates well with grade level team members, school administration and staff, and parents. The teacher will introduce to and teach the value of professional learning communities (PLC) to the teacher candidate, because they are model members of the PLC.
Training for Cooperating Teachers
Cooperating Teachers are required to complete the Idaho State Mentor Teacher Training and be approved by the university prior to their service as a Cooperating Teacher or participate in similar training provided through BYU-Idaho during their first semester of service.
Graduated Stages of Responsibility of a Teacher candidate in Relation to the Cooperating Teacher and the Demands of the Class
It has long been the standard in most teacher preparation programs, including BYU-Idaho's, that the teacher candidates begin their experience by observing, then teaching for part of the day, and then teaching full day and eventually replacing the cooperating teacher. In this new cooperative model, the candidate graduates through stages:
1) The student teacher participates in planning and instruction from the first day of placement to the end, co-teaching with the cooperating teacher. Yet, in the beginning, the cooperating teacher is completely responsible for planning, student learning, and instruction, even though the candidate is a participant in all of those activities.
2) As understanding and confidence increase, more responsibility is given to the candidate to oversee the planning and implementation of instruction. The cooperating teacher models new methods and strategies during this time, with expectations that the candidate will adopt and try each of them. The cooperating teacher and candidate continue to team-teach the class (e.g., one teaching a small pull-out group, while the other teaches the remaining larger group) with a focus on student learning and increasing learning outcomes. The shift in responsibility occurs as fast as the candidate is ready to assume more.
3) By the end of the placement, the candidate has assumed all responsibility for the class. Team teaching continues. The cooperating teacher continues to model new practices for the candidate to try. The candidate gathers data about student learning, including data on each child to differentiate instruction and assure engagement. The candidate is also gathering data about their own abilities, including strengths and weaknesses. These two data sources are used to guide mentoring by the cooperating teacher, the clinical faculty, and others.