Guidelines for Cooperating Teachers

The Role of the Cooperating Teacher

The cooperating teacher is a vital component of the teacher preparation program. Your role is to serve as mentor to the teacher candidate by using your expertise and experience to guide the teacher candidate in the development of pedagogically sound and realistically appropriate knowledge, skills and professional dispositions. We ask you to be nurturing yet direct, to provide regular guidance and feedback, to maintain minimum standard requirements consistent with the mission of the Professional Education Program, and to encourage the individual reflection and development of the beginning teacher.

This section of the Program Guide has been developed to assist you in your work with teacher candidates. Please read it carefully before meeting with your teacher candidate and use it as a reference throughout the student teaching assignment.

Basic Expectations

Teacher candidates have already completed 100 hours of field experience before they arrive at your school. Allow the teacher candidate to assume as much responsibility for lesson planning, instruction, and other professional duties as quickly as you feel she/he can handle it without adversely affecting the education of your students. Please keep in mind that a realistic teaching experience, one that encompasses all the dimensions of the teaching role, is essential to the student teaching experience.

  1. We recognize that ultimate responsibility for the performance of your students lies with you. However, we hope that you will encourage the teacher candidate to employ a variety of teaching strategies and thereby develop her/his own classroom style. Teacher candidates should take the initiative in lesson planning and design. They are encouraged to use student teaching as an opportunity to employ a variety of teaching strategies and to develop their own classroom style. You should encourage teacher candidates in this direction, suggest and demonstrate alternative teaching techniques, and be willing to share ideas and materials without imposing a single teaching style on the candidate.
  2. Cooperating teachers should be familiar with the PEP conceptual framework, which spells out the educational mission of the Professional Education Program, and work with teacher candidates to ensure that they meet our candidate proficiencies.
  3. As a rule, PEP expects teacher candidates to begin teaching their own lessons no later than the second week. University Supervisors should make their first observation no later than the third or fourth week.
  4. It is extremely important that cooperating teachers provide regular guidance in the preparation of lesson plans and feedback as to the effectiveness of the teacher candidate's teaching performance. Teacher candidates are expected to prepare lesson plans at least a day before they are taught and to discuss them with the cooperating teacher. Candidates should be encouraged to explain how the lesson relates to broader unit and curricular aims and how the instructional strategies and activities contribute to the realization of the lesson aim.
  5. Do not adopt a "sink or swim" approach.
  6. Teacher candidates should not be left alone with students.
  7. Assist the teacher candidate in developing classroom management techniques in accordance with your policies and those of the school.
  8. The teacher candidate should gradually assume responsibility for the entire teaching day. A "full teaching load" includes all of the responsibilities of the teacher, i.e., preparing and teaching lessons, grading, school-time duties (study halls, hall duty, recess), faculty meetings, etc.
  9. Encourage the teacher candidate to engage in self-evaluation. Let her/him have the first opportunity to assess the effectiveness of the lesson and to point out strengths and weaknesses. In addition to regular discussions regarding lesson design and teaching performance, cooperating teachers can encourage the development of these skills by charting questioning strategies, time-on-task data and behavior problems for the teacher candidate.
  10. It is very important to identify serious problems with teaching performance, receptiveness towards constructive feedback, and professional behavior as early as possible. If you have a serious concern, we encourage you to directly contact the University Supervisor or the Program Director of Field Experience and Clinical Practice.

Orienting the Teacher Candidate

The orientation process is essential for preparing for the arrival of the teacher candidate along with providing her/him with information basic to successful adjustment to the class and school.

  1. Prepare for the arrival of the teacher candidate. Have appropriate materials ready, such as seating charts, faculty handbook and course outlines.
  2. Help the teacher candidate become familiar with the school as soon as she/he arrives.
    • From the beginning, accept the teacher candidate as a co-worker of equal status and model professional appearance and behavior.
    • Introduce the teacher candidate to administrators, guidance personnel and department faculty.
    • Introduce the teacher candidate to the students, emphasizing the fact that she/he will be one of their teachers.
    • Review the policies the teacher candidate is expected to follow, such as procedures relating to discipline, attendance, homework, make-up work, accidents and emergencies. Explain the added duties that the teacher candidate will be required to assume, such as lunchroom or hall duty.
    • Tour relevant school facilities, point out available teaching resources and how they can be obtained, and secure a key to the faculty restrooms.
    • Invite the teacher candidate to attend department and faculty meetings and participate in professional development activities.

Lesson Planning

The teacher candidate should be required to do extensive lesson planning, and s/he will need assistance with this, especially at first. Emphasize from the outset the importance of detailed lesson planning as a learning tool for developing habits of thought necessary for successful teaching. As the teacher candidate becomes more proficient at planning and teaching, less explicit detail may be required.

  1. Play an active role in helping the teacher candidate develop lesson planning skills.
    • Work with the teacher candidate to formulate lesson aims that ask important questions and develop a sequence of instructional activities that move the teacher candidates towards this aim. Help the teacher candidate formulate pivotal questions and develop discussion leadership skills.
    • Permit the teacher candidate to draw upon your lesson plans and materials, but insist that s/he assume primary responsibility for preparing lesson plans and materials.
    • Go over each lesson plan with the teacher candidate the day before the lesson is to be taught; after the lesson is taught, help the teacher candidate analyze his/her teaching and provide constructive feedback.
    • Ensure that the teacher candidate develops a repertoire of instructional and assessment strategies.
    • Assist the teacher candidate in planning her/his teaching unit(s).
  2. Act as a coach and mentor. Teacher candidates appreciate and respond favorably to being viewed as a colleague rather than as a subordinate.
    • Give the teacher candidate regular feedback.
    • Be sensitive to the need to develop a sense of self-confidence in the teacher candidate in both formal and informal conference situations.
    • Programs require cooperating teachers to perform a limited number of formal observations during the course of the placement.
    • Since cooperating teachers have the most detailed knowledge of the teacher candidate's strengths and abilities, prospective employers will be particularly interested in your evaluation of the teacher candidate's knowledge, skills, dispositions, professionalism and potential. Be prepared to write a letter of reference for the teacher candidate.

Assessing Candidate Performance

As part of our National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) accreditation process, PEP has developed a set of instruments to assess the extent to which our candidates have mastered the candidate proficiencies that underlie our curriculum. Cooperating teachers are the most knowledgeable with regard to candidate strengths and areas needing improvement, and we depend on cooperating teacher assessments of our teacher candidates. At the first observation visit, the University Supervisor should explain the assessment process to you and provide the information you need to access our online assessment system. Cooperating teachers are expected to complete 1) two formal lesson observations for each placement, 2) the Teacher Candidate Professional Development Form at the end of the placement, and 3) the Disciplinary Standards Form for the individual programs. We would greatly appreciate it if you would complete your candidate assessments using the online system.

Honorarium for Cooperating Teachers

Cooperating teachers will receive a stipend, as determined by SUNY Central Administration. Currently, compensation equates to $200 cash or a tuition waiver in the value of $250 as an honorarium for mentoring our teacher candidates. Payment of honoraria is dependent on the timely submission of both the signed tuition waiver/stipend form and the required assessments of teacher candidates. In addition, the New York State Office of the State Controller has implemented a new statewide accounting system requiring all vendors and individuals doing business with and receiving payments from the State of New York to register in the Central Vendor Registry File. Cooperating teachers must register (one time only) in the Vendor File by completing and returning to our campus a Substitute Form W-9. Failure to complete and return the W-9 form will prohibit doing business with and receiving waiver/stipend payments from the State of New York. The necessary waiver/stipend and Substitute W-9 form, and associated instructions for completion, will be provided to cooperating teachers by the University field coordinator(s) and/or program directors who have arranged for the student teaching placements.