Cooperating Teacher Assignment, Selection and Professional Skills
The primary responsibility of school leaders is to identify their most qualified cooperating teachers. A critical quality of an effective cooperating teacher is that of being a good teacher; however, being a good teacher does not ensure that the person will be an effective cooperating teacher.
Selection of Cooperating Teachers for Field Experience Programs
The Association represents teachers on bodies that determine and implement criteria and procedures for the recruitment and selection of cooperating teachers. The Association is obligated to ensure that classroom teacher involvement in field experience programs remains on a voluntary basis and that conditions for teacher participation are satisfactory.
Cooperating teachers for field experience programs should be selected on the basis of the following criteria:
- a bachelor of education degree or its equivalent and a permanent Alberta teaching certificate;
- three or more years of successful teaching experience;
- ability to project a favourable image of the teaching profession;
- ability to establish and maintain good interpersonal skills and to apply mentoring, communication and supervisory skills effectively;
- ability to analyze and evaluate teaching and learning skills effectively;
- willingness to participate in meetings, consultation, seminars and other activities related to field experiences involvement; and
- possession of active or associate membership in the Association.
Alberta Teachers’ Association (ATA). 2017. Teacher Education and Certification Position Paper. Edmonton, Alta: ATA
Professional Skills and Abilities Relative to a Cooperating Teacher Within a Field Experience Program:
- Demonstrated teaching excellence
- Passion for teaching and concern for students’ well-being
- Superlative interpersonal and communication skills
- Flexibility and tolerance for ambiguity
- An open and approachable outlook
- Respect from colleagues and from students
- A belief in the value of their role as cooperating teachers within the profession
- Favourable disposition towards collaboration and inquiry
- A minimum of three years of successful teaching
- Commitment to ongoing professional growth
Factors to Consider When Assigning a Cooperating Teacher
- If student teacher information is known prior to the field experience, consider a similar teaching assignment so that the student teacher can be guided through specific instructional strategies, pacing, homework, selections and other grade-level and subject-specific concerns.
- Consider physical proximity (if more than one cooperating teacher is chosen) to allow for consistent and frequent opportunities to observe, evaluate and dialogue.
- Allow for common planning time for the cooperating teacher and student teacher to engage in activities related to the field experience: planning, dialogue, reflection on practice, debriefing and so forth.
- The cooperating teacher should have sufficient teaching experience (minimum three years) to ensure that the cooperating teacher has time for the field experience, and so that the student teacher can benefit from someone who has moved beyond the survival stage in teaching.