ATA Focus Groups: Wise Words for Cooperating Teachers
The following is a summary of the sage comments offered to cooperating teachers in Association Area Field Experiences Committee focus groups in 2018.
- Be present.
- Ensure that the student teacher is fully integrated into the school community.
- Bring an open mind and a willingness to grow professionally.
- This experience is one of collaboration, communication and compromise.
- Be aware of and have a good understanding of expectations within the field experience, from your school and from the teacher preparation program.
- Model your expectations, passion, work ethic, integrity and professionalism.
- Be realistic in terms of what the student teacher can realistically achieve in the field experience.
- Assist with planning and scaffolding teaching strategies to achieve success.
- Carve daily time with your student teacher to meet, debrief, listen, reflect, plan and laugh.
- Communication is key! Keep the lines of communication open and honest with your student teacher and the university faculty advisor.
- Be aware of the challenges a student teacher may be facing (financial, second language, personal).
- Have courageous conversations with the student teacher and the university faculty advisor when necessary.
- If you are sharing your student teacher with another cooperating teacher, identify before or early in the field experience who will be responsible for what aspects of the placement.
- Share your enthusiasm, your resources, your experiences—we have all been there!
- Allow the student teacher to develop their own professional identity and education philosophy.
- Look for something that went well each day. Focus on the positive and look for ways to positively address areas of growth.