Cooperating Teacher Training
Thank you for accepting a teacher candidate into your classroom community for student teaching. The experience candidates receive in real classrooms is valuable beyond measure.
We know that it is no small task to have a teacher candidate in your classroom and we greatly appreciate the opportunity a new teacher will have to learn from you.
It is our expectation that the teacher candidate working with you will be an asset to you and your students. The candidates we send into student teaching experiences are ready and excited to offer their knowledge and skills.
This self-paced training covers strategies for working with Teacher Candidates and expectations for our Cooperating Teachers.
Estimated time to complete: 60–90 minutes
Before You Meet
So you’ve heard you’re getting a student teacher. Maybe you learned this last spring or maybe you found out just today. Either way, you’ll want to do some thinking before your Teacher Candidate arrives.
Go over the Quick Start Guides for the term to understand what's expected of you, your Teacher Candidate, and the University Supervisor.
Prepare Your Classroom
Set-up an adult workspace. In classrooms at all levels, there is a significant difference between what a teacher work space looks like and what a student work space looks like. Try to give your Teacher Candidate an adult work space as much like your own as possible. If there is no available adult desk, use a table. Provide an adult-sized chair rather than a child-sized chair.
Post the candidate’s name wherever yours is posted. For example, outside the classroom door, on the front board, near your desk, on your desk, and on the class website.
Compile Useful Documents
Consider preparing a set of helpful documents that might include things like:
- A map of the school
- Class list(s)
- Staff handbook and school policies
- Bell schedule
- Class rules and routines
You can send these documents to the Teacher Candidate ahead of time or share them during your first meeting.
The First Meeting
The first meeting of the year will lay the groundwork for a successful experience for everyone. We recommend choosing a meeting time that's outside of class hours so you have enough time and space to get oriented.
Provide a Tour
During your first meeting, set aside time to provide a tour of the classroom and school. Show your Teacher Candidate where to do work, eat lunch, use the restroom, and locate resources.
Share policies and “unwritten” rules
In addition to giving your Teacher Candidate the set of documents you prepared, share the “unwritten” rules of the school. For example, do teachers usually buy or pack their lunches? Is it taboo to grade papers during a staff meeting?
- What time to report and how long to stay
- Where to park
- Materials to bring
- Typical attire for teachers
- How to speak and interact with students, parents, other teachers and staff
- Best form of communication (email, text, or call?)
- What's okay to share or not share on social media
Be Transparent About Your Non-Negotiables
Think about things that might drive you a little nuts if they happen – those are your non-negotiables. All of us have non-negotiables, both in our lives and in our classrooms. Some examples of possible non-negotiables are:
- Following all school and district policies
- Teaching the assigned curriculum
- Emailing, texting, or calling prior to an absence
- Leaving fully prepared lesson plans if they'll be absent
The First Day & Week of Class
Of course, your Teacher Candidate has less experience than you do, but the year will likely be more successful if the students understand that they now have two teachers, instead of just one.
Start by introducing the Teacher Candidate to the class as a teacher or co-teacher.
Which introduction for your Teacher Candidate is better? (click to choose)
“Class, please welcome Ms. Jacobs. She is a student teacher who will be visiting our class this year.”
“Class, please welcome Ms. Jacobs. She is a teacher who will be working with us in our class this year.”
On the first day of class, you should introduce the Teacher Candidate to the class as a Teacher or Co-Teacher.
Also introduce the Teacher Candidate to fellow teachers and school staff. Your Teacher Candidate will be at the school for an extended period of time, so help them feel like they belong.
On the first day of class, introduce the Teacher Candidate to the class as a Teacher or Co-Teacher.
Also introduce the Teacher Candidate to fellow teachers and school staff. Your Teacher Candidate will be at the school for an extended period of time, so help them feel like they belong.
During the first week of school, provide low risk opportunities for the Teacher Candidate to be in front of the class and interact with students. Examples include:
- Taking attendance
- Distributing materials
- Circulating and assisting students who need help
- Observing you as a you teach a lesson
- Introducing an activity
Use your professional judgment to gauge when the Teacher Candidate is ready to take on more responsibility. Some will want to do more before they are ready, and some will be reluctant even though they are more than ready.
Spend time together away from school. Talk on the phone, go for coffee or have a meal out. Getting to know each other makes teamwork much easier.
The co-teaching model is based on the premise that the experienced teacher can be a better teacher to the Teacher Candidate while in the room rather than in the teachers’ lounge.
The co-teaching model contrasts sharply with the traditional model of student teaching.
The traditional model usually involves the Teacher Candidate taking on solo teaching early on in their student teaching while the experienced teacher is out of the room, sometimes for entire school days or weeks. We sometimes call this the “sink or swim” model.
But with co-teaching, both teachers, the experienced and the novice, stay in the classroom and work together to best meet the needs of all students.
The goal of the co-teaching model is to provide the teacher candidate a realistic teaching experience (planning, teaching, reflecting, and assessing student work) with the Cooperating Teacher remaining engaged with the students as a co-teacher and co-planner. This partnership enhances the skill of collaboration with professional colleagues.
There are many reasons to support a co-teaching approach. A few are listed below.
Benefits For Students
- Reduced student to teacher ratio
- Increased instructional options for all students
- Diversity of instructional styles
- Greater levels of student engaged time
- Greater student participation
Benefits For Cooperating Teachers
- Enhanced collaboration skills
- Increased options for flexible grouping of students
- Another set of eyes to watch and help problem solve
- Flexibility to try things you wouldn’t be able to do alone
- Help with classroom management
Benefits For Teacher Candidates
- Enhanced collaboration skills
- Improved classroom management skills
- More teaching time
- Increased confidence
- Deeper understanding of the curriculum
- More opportunities to ask questions and reflect
Co-Teaching Is Not...
- A less rigorous teaching experience
- Simply dividing tasks and responsibilities among two people
- One person teaching one subject followed by another teaching a different subject
- One person teaching while another person prepares materials, corrects student papers, or is otherwise out of the classroom
- One person teaching while one person sits and watches
- Someone simply assigned to act as a tutor
- When one person’s ideas prevail regarding what is taught and how it will be taught.
There are several specific instructional techniques used in the co-teaching model that Cooperating Teachers and Teacher Candidates are encouraged to use. While these strategies can be used in the final term of the student teaching experience when the Candidate is in the classroom full-time, all co-planning, co-teaching, and co-assessing responsibilities should be led by the Teacher Candidate, not the Cooperating Teacher.
One Teach, One Assist
One teacher has primary instructional responsibility while the other assists students with their work, monitors behaviors, or checks for understanding.
One Teach, One Observe
One teacher has primary responsibility while the other gathers specific observational information on students or the instructing teacher. The key to this strategy is to have a focus for observation.
The co-teaching pair divides the instructional content into parts and the students into groups. Groups spend designated time at each station. Often an independent station (or more than one) will be used along with the two teacher stations.
Each teacher instructs half of the students. The two teachers address the same instructional material and present the material using the same teaching strategy. The greatest benefit to this approach is the reduction of the student-teacher ratio.
Alternative (Differentiated) Teaching
The teachers use different approaches to explaining the same information or skill. The learning outcome is the same for all students; however, the instructional methodology is different.
Both teachers are actively involved in the lesson. From a student perspective, there is no clearly defined leader as both teachers share the instruction, freely interject information, assist students, and answer questions.
For more information on Co-Teaching, including planning sheets and collaboration tools, visit St. Cloud State University's Co-Teaching Resources page.
Co-teaching strategies in action
As you watch the videos, try to think of at least one way you might implement the strategy with your Teacher Candidate.
Which co-teaching strategies will you implement early on? How will you implement them?
Using the Instructive-Collaborative-Facilitative Framework
As classroom teachers, we are used to talking to our students and very comfortable giving direct instructions. With adults, however, the same approach may not be well received. “Telling” adults what to do tends to be less effective than helping them find their own answers. So, instead, we suggest using the Instructive-Collaborative-Facilitative (I-C-F) framework as a guide for conversation with your Teacher Candidate.
Instructive: Flow of information is mainly from the Cooperating Teacher to the Teacher Candidate
Collaborative: Flow of information is relatively equal between the Cooperating Teacher and Teacher Candidate
Facilitative: Flow of information is mainly from the Teacher Candidate to the Cooperating Teacher
Cooperating Teacher Role
Give directions, explain options
Guide the interaction, ask focusing questions, co-construct solutions and materials
Listen, ask open and reflective questions, support self-assessment
Teacher Candidate Role
Follow directions, select from available options
Narrow ideas, determine next steps, co-construct solutions and materials
Actively direct the flow of information, self-assess, self-prescribe
“Would you like me to offer some ideas?”
“Perhaps I can share some strategies that might be useful here?”
“It sounds like it might help if you had a few more ideas about how to do quick checks for understanding. Do you want to brainstorm a few possibilities together?”
“What next steps do you think we should take?”
“What would you like to try?”
“What next steps are you considering?”
“It sounds like you have given this a lot of thought, what would you like me to do?”
Suggest a strategy for assessing student work.
Provide classroom management policies.
Offer ways to differentiate instruction.
Co-develop a lesson or curriculum unit.
Analyze examples of student work together.
Observe another teacher and then discuss.
Listen as the Teacher Candidate analyzes observation data.
Pose questions that clarify and deepen the Teacher Candidate’s thinking.
The I-C-F Framework in Action
As you watch the videos, listen for language the Cooperating Teacher uses to support the facilitative, collaborative, or instructive stance.
Shifting Along the Continuum
Although it's the “Instructive-Collaborative-Facilitative” framework, we recommend starting with the Facilitative stance and moving to the Collaborative or Instructive stances if needed.
Ultimately, your Teacher Candidate will have to be able to manage their own classroom and their own students without you for guidance and support. Providing opportunities for your Teacher Candidate to practice this independence will help them become autonomous teachers.
Whenever possible, remain in the facilitative stance and help the teacher candidate develop their own solutions.
If facilitating isn’t possible, shift to the collaborative stance and co-construct solutions.
When necessary, be prepared to be direct and give specific instructions in the instructive stance.
As you become more comfortable with the I-C-F approach, you will find yourself moving fluidly from one stance to another and back again as the situation and conversation warrants. Depending on the context, the same topic might be approached using the Facilitative, Collaborative, or Instructive stance.
For example, let’s say your Teacher Candidate is explaining a lesson plan...
“What will students produce to demonstrate their learning?”
“I can show you a couple models, and we can think about what changes might work for your lesson.”
“If you send out all these students with IEPs, they won’t receive the same educational opportunities as the others, which isn’t fair. What supports might some students need to be successful?”
We all tend to have a stance (instructive, collaborative, or facilitative) that is most comfortable. What is your most comfortable stance and how might this affect your work with a student teacher?
How Teaching Adults is Different
Understanding the differences between young learners and adult learners is critical for helping your Teacher Candidate learn.
An adult learner is someone who has achieved the concept of being responsible for their own life. Although some Teacher Candidates might not yet have this concept of themselves, most probably will.
The idea that adult learners are different from young learners was sparked when researcher and educator Malcolm Knowles suggested that the same methods for teaching children does not apply to adults. Knowles pushed for the idea of “andragogy,” or the science of helping adults learn.
Characteristics of Young Versus Adult Learners
As part of his Adult Learning Theory, Knowles determined there were several general assumptions, or characteristics, of adult learners that differentiated them from young learners.
See if you can tell which of the following characteristics are typical of young learners and which are typical of adult learners. HINT: there are 4 characteristics for each.
Drag and drop the characteristics on the left to the learner categories on the right.
- Learn in a linear manner
- Want to decide which topics to focus on
- Dependent on rules and instructions
- Will self-assess when given the proper tools
- Don’t have a sense of when and how learned information will be used
- Expect what they are learning to be immediately useful
- Motivated by emotions and an aspiration to be better
- Motivated by external factors
Principles for Teaching Adults
Based on Knowles’ Adult Learning Theory, we suggest considering the following three principles when working with your Teacher Candidate.
Wait for the Teachable Moment
If your Teacher Candidate is not ready to learn something, no matter how hard you may try, it just won’t work. Look and listen for clues that might indicate your Teacher Candidate is ready for a next step.
A teachable moment might be indicated by the Teacher Candidate saying things like:
“I wonder if they understood my directions...”
“I’m not sure what to do if they ask a question I don’t know the answer to.”
“How did you know to reteach that part of the lesson?”
Explain the “Why”
Adults want to understand why or how they will use specific information in the near future.
For example, you might say things like:
“It’s helpful to place students in a seating chart on the first day in order to learn their names more quickly.”
“Let’s lesson plan together so that if either of us is absent, the other one will know exactly what to teach.”
Recognize and Use Life Experience
As adult learners, Teacher Candidates bring a wealth of life experience with them to your classroom. They will learn best and most willingly when allowed to make use of this experience.
For example, you might say things like:
“Since you seem to already know a lot about assessment practices, let’s shift to classroom management.”
“How have you handled disruptive students in the past?”
Try to stay mindful of high expectations. In the hands of an experienced educator, teaching often looks easy. This can be disconcerting to a student teacher who tries to replicate what the Cooperating Teacher is doing only to find that things don’t go nearly as well.
Many novice educators have very high expectations for themselves and are devastated by their early results in the classroom. It is also possible for us, the experienced teachers, to set our expectations too high for someone just beginning in the classroom.
It is important to remember that student teachers have a lot to learn during their time with you.
What to Do If Your Teacher Candidate Doesn’t Meet Expectations
Although it does not happen often, sometimes Teacher Candidates fall short of our expectations. The best thing to do is to address the issue as soon as it is noticed. The way we address it will depend on the nature of the issue. This lesson contains some scenarios based on actual experience in the Salem-Keizer School District.
Struggling With the Transition From Student to Teacher
Some student teachers seem to struggle with the transition from student to teacher. They may dress more like the students than the teachers, and they may use slang more than you would like.
Recommended approach: Have a one-on-one conversation with the Teacher Candidate. Remember to be specific about your expectations.
Rather than say, “You need to dress more professionally,” you might say, “Please wear pants that are not jeans and a shirt with a collar.”
If talking to the Teacher Candidate does not produce the desired change in behavior, contact the University Supervisor. Again, you will need to be clear about what you think needs to change.
Not Up To Par
For one reason or another, on occasion, some of our Teacher Candidate’s may struggle.
Recommended approach: As soon as you notice a teacher candidate having difficulty doing things you think they should be able to do (lesson plan, teach small lessons, give directions, manage students, and so on...), please contact the University Supervisor right away.
It is possible that your Teacher Candidate has never had a job with a set schedule. They may not understand that they must report for work at an assigned time and stay until the designated end of the work day.
Some Teacher Candidates struggle with this or don’t realize that they need to keep you informed as to their whereabouts.
Recommended approach: If your Teacher Candidate is developing a pattern of being late or leaving early, talk to them one-on-one. Be clear and specific about expected arrival and departure times.
This is all part of teaching professionalism to those just entering the profession.
Taking Over Your Classroom
Some Teacher Candidates have a great deal of confidence and feel ready to make curriculum and lesson decisions for the classroom. You might really like some of these decisions, or you might not.
Recommended approach: This is a time for you to use your professional judgment. Sometimes it helps to consider these questions:
- Is it in line with school and district curriculum plans?
- Do you think the lesson or curriculum choice will be successful?
- If not, would it be beneficial for the Teacher Candidate to experience this? We often learn more from our failures than our successes.
- Balancing what might be gained, will it be a negative experience for students?
The bottom line is that this is your classroom and you can direct a student teacher in content and instructional approach. You have the final say on what happens in your classroom. If you need support having this conversation with your Teacher Candidate, contact your University Supervisor right away.
Observation & Evaluation Requirements
Observing and providing feedback is an important responsibility of the Cooperating Teacher. Whenever the Teacher Candidate is interacting with students, there are opportunities to observe, gather data, and provide feedback. This lesson describes the required observation and evaluation documentation.
Candidate Preservice Assessment for Student Teaching (“CPAST”) Form
Cooperating Teachers are required to complete two CPAST Forms in the final term of student teaching – one as a mid-term evaluation and one as a summative evaluation at the end of the term.
The CPAST Form is a valid and reliable tool that includes a 21-row rubric and and supplementary information necessary for student teaching observation and evaluation. The rubric includes two subscales: (I) Pedagogy and (II) Dispositions, which are further divided as follows.
- Planning for Instruction and Assessment
- Instructional Delivery
- Analysis of Teaching
- Professional Commitment and Behaviors
- Professional Relationships
- Critical Thinking and Reflective Practice
Cooperating Teachers are required to complete two PreCPAST Forms – one at the end of the first term of student teaching and one at the end of the second term of student teaching.
The PreCPAST Form is similar to the CPAST form, but involves fewer measures and lower performance expecations.
PreCPAST & CPAST Process
Observe the Teacher Candidate throughout the term.
Fill out the PreCPAST (terms 1 and 2) or CPAST (term 3) rubric and submit it in TK20.
You can view, download, and submit the PreCPAST and CPAST Forms in TK20. Aim to complete the form approximately one week before the consensus meeting.
The Teacher Candidate and University Supervisor will also fill-out their own copies of the CPAST Form.
Participate in the consensus meeting with the Teacher Candidate and University Supervisor.
Once all three parties (Cooperating Teacher, University Supervisor, Teacher Candidate) have completed the CPAST rubric, the University Supervisor will schedule a meeting with you and your Teacher Candidate.
At the meeting, the three of you will discuss scores on each section of the PreCPAST or CPAST and arrive at a consensus score. The University Supervisor will enter consensus scores into TK20.
If you want to learn more about using the CPAST Form, check out theCooperating Teacher & Student Teacher CPAST Training. This training is optional. The University Supervisor will also go over the CPAST process at the start-of-term meeting.
Clinical Observation Feedback Form
Cooperating Teachers are required to complete five Clinical Observation Feedback Forms – one in the first term and two each in the second and third terms.
The Clinical Observation Feedback Form is shorter and less formal than both the PreCPAST and CPAST. The form is divided into three parts: (I) Rubric, (II) Goals, and (III) Strengths.
Clinical Observation Feedback Process
Have a pre-lesson meeting with the Teacher Candidate.
Meet with the Teacher Candidate before the lesson to review their lesson plans and offer suggestions. Keep track of the pre-lesson meeting date as you’ll need to enter it in TK20.
Observe the Teacher Candidate as they teach the lesson.
Have a post-lesson meeting with the Teacher Candidate.
Set aside time either on the same day of the observation or soon after to debrief with your Teacher Candidate. Keep track of the post-lesson meeting date as you’ll need to enter it in TK20.
Submit the completed Clinical Observation Feedback Form in TK20.
You can view, download, and submit the Clinical Observation Feedback Form in TK20, or use the link below to download a blank copy of the form to fill out and later copy your responses into TK20.
Optional Observation & Evaluation Tools
Of course, you’re encouraged to observe, evaluate, and provide feedback to your Teacher Candidate outside of the required observation sessions. This lesson includes some optional tools for observing and evaluating your Teacher Candidate.
The following observation tools focus on gathering objective data. Ask your Teacher Candidate what kind of data they want you to collect and share. You can also ask your Teacher Candidate to observe you and gather data about your teaching to get them used to the process of observation.
Time sampling is a method of recording what students and/or the Teacher Candidate are doing at a certain point in time. With time sampling, the observer decides in advance that observation will take place only during specified time periods (for example, every 5 minutes or 1 hour per day) and records the occurrence of the specified behavior during that period only.
Time Sampling Example
- P = Presenting
- M = Managing
- H = Helping
- I = Individualized Instruction
In this example, Teacher Candidate behavior is tracked at 5-minute intervals.
This might be useful information if a Teacher Candidate is wondering about time management or if lessons tend to run short or long. It helps us be more aware of how we spend our time.
Event sampling is a method of recording student and/or the Teacher Candidate behavior. The observer decides in advance what types of behavior (events) they are interested in and records all occurrences. All other types of behavior are ignored.
Event Sampling Example
|No Hand Raised|
In this example, the Cooperating Teacher tracks the type of question asked and whether hands were raised or not.
This data could lead to interesting conversations about rigor of the lesson and engagement of students.
Although it is impossible to capture in writing everything that is said during a lesson, we can selectively record elements of the lesson that are most relevant to an observational focus. We call this selective scripting.
Selective Scripting Example
|12:50||“If you’re ready, thumbs up.”||[7 students put thumbs up]|
|“_____ is ready, _____ is ready.”||[6 more put thumbs up]|
|“We’re going to look at words ending in /ed/ and /d/ today.”|
|“When do words have /ed/ or /d/ as their ending?”||“They already happened.” (Cody – hand raised)
“It was in the past.” (Melissa – no hand raised)
|“Yes, /d/ and /ed/ tell us the action happened in the past.”|
|12:55||[passes out text to each student, students get different reading levels of text]
“Please read your paragraph and highlight all the /d/ and /ed/ words.”
|[all students participating and highlighting (very quiet) working independently and silently]|
|[monitors, walks around, checks in with 6 students]|
|“No, just circle the /ed/ and /d/ endings.”||“Teacher, like this?” (Martin)|
|[continues check-in, supports as needed]|
|[helps Chelsea find a few that she missed]
“Read this sentence to me…”
|[Chelsea reads the sentence, finds another /ed/ word]|
|1:05||“Vicente – since you are done, you will start collecting highlighters.”||[Vicente picks up highlighters]|
The seating chart tool is perhaps the most simple tool to use. It is simply a blank piece of paper with a sketch of the classroom layout. It can be used to track engagement, participation, or movement.
Seating Chart Example
- A = At task
- O = Off task
- D = Different school work
- N = Not in seat
- T = Talking to others
This example shows what each student was doing at 5-minute intervals while working on an independent task.
It might help a newer teacher better understand how students are functioning.
Consider any of the sample data from this lesson. What do you notice that you would want to draw the Teacher Candidate’s attention to?
While the observation tools are about providing objective data, the following evaluation tools can be used to assess and provide feedback to the Teacher Candidate.
Three Column Chart
The Three Column Chart is an easy tool to apply in the early stages of a working relationship. It’s low-risk, acknowledges strengths, and provides feedback. In the three column chart, each column has a picture at the top that represent what worked well, questions the observer has, and ideas.
Things that work well
- Room is very inviting and well organized
- Students attention is focused towards the front
- There are clear areas for reading, supplies, calendar, etc.
- Appreciate that you are utilizing the microphone, it really makes a difference in the classroom
- You were using praise to correct and reinforce behaviors
- Students were participating and engaged while you were teaching
- You are being very consistent with having students raise their hands and you are using verbal and nonverbal reminders (modeling with raising your hand)
- You are a natural at engaging your students through simple things: close your eyes and 1, 2, 3…
- You noticed that they needed to move before writing the date, so you had them stand up and practice counting
Questions the observer has
- Something you might consider…when you had them stand up and a couple kids did not do it quickly or there was a bit of chatting, you used it as a teaching moment and quickly reviewed how they should stand and that by doing so, they could earn filberts. You might at this time have them do a quick practice and if they do it correctly, they could earn a filbert right then and there – helping them connect appropriate behavior to earning that reward.
- When showing the sprint, it might be helpful to put it under the doc camera so they can see which side to have it on and you could model writing your name and date for them to see too.
Ideas to consider or connections to other learning
When you called on a student for calendar and they got the response incorrect, you took a couple of seconds to reteach and gave them think time and then allowed them to answer again. This time they got it correct. This little exchange is referred to as “No Opt Out,” where students know they are not expected to have the correct answer, but they will be accountable for the correct answer. This is a great strategy! Another way it can be done is…
- Teacher asks question
- Student A answers incorrectly
- Teacher calls on another student
- Student B answers correctly
- Teacher goes back to student A and asks them to answer it again (letting them know that they are accountable for listening and that they will get it correct)
Collaborative Assessment Log (“CAL”)
The CAL provides a protocol for conversations between an experienced educator and a less experienced educator. It covers strengths, challenges, and next steps for both the Teacher Candidate and Cooperating Teacher.
Collaborative Assessment Log Example
Below is a sample CAL based on a conversation with an 8th grade science teacher. Notice that the process is driven by the Teacher Candidate.
|What’s Working||Current Focus–Challenges–Concerns|
|Teacher Candidate’s Next Steps||Cooperating Teacher’s Next Steps|
Next Meeting Date: Thursday
Focus: Data collection/student work from 6th period
Although not required, we recommend using the Three Column Chart or the CAL during your weekly meeting with your Teacher Candidate to help guide the conversation and keep track of progress.
Providing feedback is an important aspect of observation and evaluation, but it can also be one of the most difficult tasks for Cooperating Teachers. You want to give developing educators a fair understanding of their current level of performance without crushing their spirits or dampening their enthusiasm. Fortunately, providing this kind of feedback is a skill you can improve over time.
What Makes Feedback Effective?
Generally, effective feedback is:
Specific and actionable. Provide tangible examples of the behavior in question, not vague, “drive by” feedback like, “You could improve on classroom management.” Comments like that leave your Teacher Candidate confused and in the dark about what exactly needs to be improved. Instead, make sure you both know what needs to be done to improve the situation. The main message should be that you care and want to help the Teacher Candidate grow and develop.
Focused on performance, not personality. Focus on Teacher Candidate’ behaviors (what they do) rather than on their personality traits (what they’re like). For example, “When you interrupt me in front of the class, it causes a problem” (behavior) will probably be heard better than...“Your over-confidence is causing a problem”(personality trait).
Limited in scope. Ideally, an informal feedback session should discuss no more than two issues. Any more than that and you risk the Teacher Candidate feeling attacked and demoralized.
Ongoing. Feedback is a process that requires constant attention. When something needs to be said, say it. The Teacher Candidate will know where they stand all the time and there will be fewer surprises. Also, problems don't get out of hand. It's not a once-a-term event, though this may be the timing of formal feedback. Informal, simple feedback should be given much more often than this – possibly daily, depending on your Teacher Candidate. By providing frequent, informal feedback like this, nothing said during the formal feedback sessions should be unexpected, surprising or particularly difficult.
When it comes to feedback, timing is everything. Use “teachable moments” to introduce feedback. The skill as a Cooperating Teacher comes in identifying and capitalizing upon the teachable moment so the Teacher Candidate is able to make connections between what you are sharing and their own needs and interests.
Feedback Language Tips
Your Teacher Candidate wants your feedback. They know that if they listen to, and take action on, clear and constructive feedback, their overall performance will improve. And when feedback is given in the right way and with the right intentions, it can lead to outstanding performance. For your Teacher Candidate to really hear your thoughts and suggestions, though, that feedback has to be delivered in the right way. Listed below are three tips with language examples for providing feedback that is powerful and positive.
Tip #1: Practice Mirroring
Mirroring involves repeating what you have heard in your own words until you are sure that you have indeed heard it fully and accurately. It also includes asking your Teacher Candidate if they have been heard. This process is also called reflective listening. Mirroring is a good habit because it shows empathy and respect, allows for the most accurate information exchange, and, most importantly, encourages you to stay in a stance where the answers come from the Teacher Candidate
Examples of mirroring with words
- From what you’re saying…
- It sounds like…
- What I hear you saying is…
- Let me see if I understand…
- So you’re primarily concerned with…
- Would you tell me a little more about…?
- What do you mean by…?
- There are several key points you’re bringing up…
- So you’re suggesting…?
Tip #2: Use “How” and “What” Instead of “Why”
“Why” often implies judgement. As adult learners, your Teacher Candidate is able to self-assess and will often recognize and correct missteps on their own. In many cases, simply making some non-judgemental responses helps the Teacher Candidate come to the “solution” on their own. Additionally, non-judgemental responses help communicate that you are open-minded, encouraging, and interested.
Examples of “how” and “what” questions
- What criteria do you use to…?
- How was … different from…?
- What is your reaction when…?
- What instructional decisions were successful?
- How are you feeling about…?
- How did you decide to…?
Tip #3: Ask Mediational Questions
Mediational questions help bring about a new understanding by posing questions that extend thinking, learning, and planning. They help the Teacher Candidate make hypotheses and think outside the box.
Examples of mediational questions
- What’s another way you might…?
- What do you think would happen if…?
- What sort of an impact do you think…?
- What do you think about…?
- What might you see happening in the classroom if…?
- What might have contributed to…?
Remember to give praise. Praise is often underused and undervalued as a way of giving feedback, yet it has considerable potential to motivate, increase confidence, and improve performance. Recognizing the strength in others and giving praise requires a conscious effort.
And speaking of feedback...
- Watch your email for messages from:
- Zig Derochowski (firstname.lastname@example.org), welcoming you to the term and providing information on specific timelines and roles and responsibilities.
- Sarah Beaird (email@example.com) with a link to access TK20, the online system in which you will complete your observation and assessments.
- Your University Supervisor, who will be contacting you shortly to arrange an initial visit to your classroom to discuss the term requirements, review each person’s roles and responsibilities, answer questions, and walk you through using TK20.
- Record the date you completed this training in TK20.
- Schedule time with your Teacher Candidate to discuss expectations for the term.
If you have immediate questions, you can contact the Director of Clinical Practice & Licensure, Zig Derochowski.