Responsibilities of Teacher Candidates

Teacher Candidate Responsibilities and Relationship with Cooperating Teacher

  1. The development of a successful working relationship between the teacher candidate and the cooperating teacher requires effort from both individuals. Some considerations are listed below.
    • Remember that the cooperating teacher is legally responsible for the class and the students.
    • Be certain, at all times, to deal with your cooperating teacher in a flexible and courteous manner. Remember that student teaching will be your only opportunity to work with and learn from a more experienced colleague on such a close basis. It is your responsibility to make the most of this opportunity. PEP expectations for cooperating teachers and a description of their role are outlined in the following section.
    • Meet with your cooperating teacher and/or department chair before the end of the previous semester to determine which courses you will be teaching so that you can begin preparing.
    • You are responsible for developing lessons and instructional materials and reviewing them with the cooperating teacher before the lesson is taught. Your cooperating teacher may be willing to share ideas and materials with you. However, you are expected to take the initiative in lesson preparation.
    • You are expected to take the initiative in trying out diverse teaching approaches in consultation with your cooperating teacher. Your cooperating teacher is expected to encourage such initiative and offer regular guidance in lesson planning and constructive feedback. You should regard your cooperating teacher as an experienced professional from whom you are there to learn, as you develop your own teaching style. If you encounter difficulties in working with your cooperating teacher, contact your University Supervisor, not the department chair or principal.
    • If you have questions or concerns, ask your cooperating teacher. Don't expect your cooperating teacher to diagnose your needs.
    • Lesson plans should be prepared at least a day in advance and discussed with the cooperating teacher the day before they are to be taught. Failure to prepare adequately and follow cooperating teacher suggestions is the single most frequent cause of poor performance in student teaching. When you discuss a proposed lesson plan with your cooperating teacher, be prepared 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.
    • Accept constructive criticism willingly and in the correct spirit.
    • Speak with your cooperating teacher before consulting with or asking the advice of other school personnel. Your cooperating teacher is your liaison to the school at all times.
    • You are expected to be at the school for the full length of the school day.

  2. Act in a professional manner:
    • Obtain a copy of the faculty handbook and learn about all school procedures.
    • Become familiar with the teaching profession code of ethics, NYSED (http://www.highered.nysed.gov/tcert/resteachers/codeofethics.html) and INTASC (http://www.ccsso.org/intasc) dispositions.
    • Maintain a proper teacher - student relationship. You are in a position of authority; you are not a peer to the students. Do not try to become "popular" with the students in order to maintain discipline; it will not work.
    • Use the English language appropriately, and avoid overuse of cliches and/or slang expressions.
    • Be well groomed and dress as a professional teacher.
    • Keep all information about students confidential.
    • Be proud of your work, your profession, and your school.
    • Be aware that we live in a diverse society and that children are both very impressionable and easily offended. Refrain from expounding your religious or political views and think about how to make discussions of controversial issues into learning experiences.
    • Avoid all actions and situations which could create the impression of impropriety:
      1. Under no circumstances should you become socially or romantically involved with your students.
      2. Be cautious about physical contact with students and remember that what may be appropriate depends on age, culture and gender.
      3. Do not hold conferences behind closed doors or in secluded places because, in case of accusation of misconduct, it will be your word against the student's.
  3. Attend faculty and other planning meetings.
  4. Notify your cooperating teacher in advance if you will miss school due to illness and make sure that instruction has been planned for the day(s) you will be out. If you cannot reach the cooperating teacher in-person, be sure to contact the school office and/or the subject coordinator. Do not just leave a message on an answering machine and expect that the cooperating teacher will receive it. Failure to take these actions indicates a lack of professionalism that will reflect badly on you and the University.

Orientation--The Teacher Candidate's First Days

At the beginning of student teaching you will become acquainted with the school, the students, your cooperating teacher and other school personnel.

  1. Know the responsibilities of the Cooperating Teacher and the University Supervisor.
  2. Familiarize yourself with the entire scope of your cooperating teacher's responsibilities and the classroom routines used by your cooperating teacher for such activities as taking attendance, distributing supplies, collecting papers, sharpening pencils, leaving the room, going to the library and dismissing the class.
  3. Become familiar with the school regulations. As a "co-teacher" in the system, you will be responsible for enforcing student regulations and observing teacher regulations in the same way as a regularly employed teacher.
  4. Tour the school building to become familiar with its layout. Become familiar with the school parking regulations.
  5. Become acquainted with other personnel in the school: administrators, guidance counselors, deans, psychologists, and security officers.
  6. Learn the school's procedures for reproducing materials. Become familiar with materials, equipment and aids available for your use and learn the procedure for requisitioning those materials.
  7. Know what to do in case of fire drills and other emergencies. Follow the district policy on what to do, whom to call, and what not to do.
  8. Find out what materials are available in the library or media center for use in your subject area or grade level and familiarize yourself with procedures for taking classes or individual students to the library or computer room.

Lesson Planning

  1. Effective lessons don't just happen; they are carefully planned. There is no substitute for thorough planning. Careful planning will help you to:
    • be poised and confident.
    • understand the subject to be taught.
    • construct clear and concise assignments.
    • present materials logically and completely.
    • identify necessary instructional materials.
    • incorporate a variety of appropriate teaching methods.
    • tie in lesson plans to the goals of the school curriculum.
    • take advantage of "teachable moments" and try not to cut off worthwhile discussions just to accomplish specific lesson objectives.
    • focus on closure in each lesson.
    • ensure continuity with the preceding and following lessons.
    • meet the goals of the established curriculum.
  2. Daily Lesson Planning
    Teacher candidates are expected to prepare detailed daily lesson plans. This is a necessary learning experience for new teachers. PEP does not require that teacher candidates employ a single lesson planning format, though all such formats contain basic common elements, which are modified according to the specific instructional strategy employed. Lesson plans should be readily available for your University Supervisor. It is strongly advised that you keep your lesson plans and other instructional materials in a binder or folder. This will help you develop essential organizational skills and keep you from being overwhelmed by the amount of paper you will have to deal with. This will also make it easier for you to compile your teacher candidate work sample (TCWS) and portfolio at the end of the semester.

Classroom Environment, Management and Discipline

A positive classroom environment is the precondition for effective instruction. As with teaching and lesson design, classroom management and discipline require careful planning. In your pedagogy courses, you will have been exposed to the key issues in classroom management. However, it is extremely important that you take control of and effectively manage the class from the very outset. If you lose a class at the beginning, you may never get the students back. In planning how to manage the class, you should work closely with your cooperating teacher and take into account the following ideas:

  1. A positive classroom climate provides a good learning atmosphere and can be encouraged in the following ways:
    • Follow the golden rule - behave as you would expect your students to behave.
    • Provide quality instruction so that students are successful, challenged at their learning level, and engaged with the material. Remember, telling is not teaching. Avoid over-reliance on the lecture method because it is easy to lose students' attention if they seldom get to participate.
    • Show that you respect the students and that you are enthusiastic about teaching and learning.
    • Recognize that each student is an individual and take into consideration individual abilities, interests and capacities for learning.
    • Never use sarcasm--children simply can't handle it.
  2. Although you should treat your students as individuals deserving of respect, it is the responsibility of the teacher candidate to establish and enforce classroom rules.
    • Make no demands you cannot enforce.
    • Remember that any discipline measures you use should conform to the policies of the school and the instructions of your cooperating teacher.
    • You must enforce announced policies promptly, consistently, and fairly.
    • Examine your reinforcement techniques carefully if the same behavior problems persist with the same student.
    • Never get into a confrontation--verbal or physical--with students.
    • Never use physical means to discipline students.
    • If students become verbally abusive or threatening towards you, contact the appropriate school personnel.
  3. Never leave students unattended in the classroom.

Evaluation, Observation and Professional Development

  1. Self-Evaluation: As an effective teacher, you should continually reflect on your performance, assessing your teaching plans and your teaching behaviors. After each lesson you should assess yourself in writing in the form of journal entries and with notes written on your lesson plan. Follow your own assessment with a conference with your cooperating teacher. One excellent means of critiquing your work and assessing your development is to videotape your teaching. Some University Supervisors will require this in conjunction with the student teaching seminar. The aim here is not simply to judge whether the lesson was good or bad, but to focus on specific behaviors to identify your strengths and weaknesses.
  2. Conferring with Cooperating Teacher
    Your cooperating teacher is encouraged to assume a collegial/coaching mode in relation to evaluation and conferring. Expect your cooperating teacher to:
    • provide feedback on an informal daily basis, especially during the early part of the experience.
    • complete evaluations as required by your program.
    • involve other professionals (other teachers, department head, principal) in observing you and giving feedback.
  3. Conferring with the University Supervisor
    Your University Supervisor plays a dual role, acting both as a counselor and as a supervisor responsible for evaluating your work. The responsibilities of your University Supervisor include:
    • meeting with you and your cooperating teacher to establish the expectations of the university regarding the student teaching experience.
    • acting as a liaison between the teacher candidate, the school, and the University; if you have problems with the placement or cooperating teacher that you cannot resolve on your own, the first person you should turn to is the University Supervisor.
    • conducting at least three formal observations with post-conferences.
    • directing weekly seminars, which serve as a bridge between pedagogical theory and classroom practice. The purpose of the student teaching seminar is to help students solve practical problems regarding content, pedagogy and classroom management and to reflect on their work so that it becomes a learning experience for them. The seminar should also provide practical preparation for seeking employment. The various written assignments required by PEP (professional portfolio and exit interview) and the individual programs will be graded in conjunction with this seminar.
    • assign the final grade (Pass/Fail) for student teaching based on information gathered throughout the semester and a letter grade (A-F) for the student teaching seminar.