Revised Fall 2009
FIELD EXPERIENCES OFFICE
I first want to thank you for willingness to open your classrooms to a student teacher from Southeast Missouri State University. The responsibility to guide a student teacher is a great yet rewarding task. As you all know the experience of student teaching is a profound and challenging time for student teachers. Having the support of a cooperating teacher gives them assurance and direction to successfully complete their student teaching requirements. Without your mentorship we could not prepare our student teachers for their own classroom.
Southeast Missouri is extremely proud of our teacher education program and the students that we prepare. Student teachers from our program are fortunate enough to have already had supervised experience in different classroom settings. We set high expectations for our student teachers and hope that they exceed any expectation you might have for them.
Thank you again for donating your time and knowledge to preparing our student teachers for their future.
Dr. Tamela Randolph, Interim Dean
College of Education
We greatly appreciate the willingness of teachers and administrators to work with teacher candidates from Southeast Missouri State University. We hope the material in this handbook will provide an overview of the program, an outline of responsibilities, and suggestions for a rewarding experience with your teacher candidate.
We believe this final student teaching block is a vital component of teacher training. It allows the teacher candidate an opportunity to practice and improve skills, as well as gain a wealth of knowledge from the cooperating teacher. The experience has the potential of raising the level of enthusiasm, giving personal satisfaction and professional growth opportunities to the cooperating teacher. There are also potential benefits to public school students who may learn from varied styles and techniques. Finally, the occasion of student teaching brings together University and public school personnel with the opportunity to collaboratively learn from each other.
These benefits will help both the national and state mandates to provide a quality teacher in every classroom. Together we can accomplish this mission. Thanks for joining us in improving education for tomorrow, today.
Dr. Lori Mueller, Coordinator
Clinical Experiences and Certification
The conceptual framework for student teaching at Southeast Missouri State University is based upon the Missouri Standards for Teacher Education Preparation (MOSTEP). Student teaching serves as the capstone of the teacher-training program.
The Teacher Education Program strives to train teachers to be competent professional educators. Future teachers acquire knowledge of the human condition, the world, and the subject matter she/he teaches. Other courses enable students to acquire skill in the art of teaching and encourage them to continue as active learners. The preparation of teachers at Southeast Missouri State University is field based. A field experience is a component of each professional training block. By the time students begin their student teaching they have spent over 125 hours in a school classroom with a properly certified and experienced teacher. Some degree programs (e.g., Early Childhood and Special Education) require additional hours of field experience before student teaching. Students teach sixteen (16) weeks in two different districts, in one upper and one lower grade level for an elementary certification area. Secondary education students teach two different districts. Unlike elementary, these students teach in their content area.
During the first half, the teacher candidate is expected to demonstrate competencies in the areas of Instructional Strategies, Motivation and Management, Communication Skills, and Assessment. The second half is an intensive professional practicum requiring superior demonstration of teaching competencies in the five areas mentioned above. Students are able to request placements in schools from St. Charles County in the Northwest part of the area to Pemiscot County in the Southeast and in Western Illinois. Students' choices are limited by program requirements for experience in a variety of levels and with diverse student populations. Three school districts the field service region have agreed to collaborate with the University as Professional Development Schools: Charleston Middle School, Jackson special education, and Sikeston kindergarten.
Another component is the option to do one half of student teaching in Wales during the Spring Semester. The College of Education also hosts Welsh students who do a field experience in public school systems in this area. The University promotes other programs that allow students to teach abroad in almost any country they wish to experience.
The conceptual framework for the supervision of teacher candidates is based on the premise that beginning teachers have at least four important needs:
The Southeast conceptual framework for the supervision of teacher candidates utilizes part-time faculty, who are certified pre K-12 professionals with a variety of teaching and supervisory experiences. Some are subject matter specialists and others are generalists who have wide experiences in supervision of teachers while serving in the public school as administrators. One of the principles of the Coalition of Essential Schools states: "Principals and teachers should perceive themselves as generalists first (teachers and scholars in general education) and specialists second (experts in at least one particular discipline)." Our mix of supervisors makes it possible for students to get assistance in their discipline from cooperating teachers and also receive supervision from someone who is experienced in using the Teacher Work Sample (TWS) model that is the basis of our program. It is our goal to employ supervisors who have recent experience in the public schools or continuing experience in supervision of teacher candidates, have an understanding of the teacher education program, and have experience and competency in the evaluation process. Evaluation is based on competencies demonstrated through the construction of a Teacher Work Sample, professional dispositions, and on-site performance evaluations. Supervision is supported by orientation sessions for university supervisors, workshops for cooperating teachers, and handbooks for students and teachers.
It is important for teacher candidates and K-12 educators to know that the teacher
education program at Southeast Missouri State University was revised to reflect the
state requirements. They support the MOSTEP Quality Indicators and incorporate criteria
found in Missouri’s Performance Based Teacher Evaluation.
These standards are being addressed in the courses and field experiences of students now entering the program. As students progress through the block field experiences they are required to document evidence in their Teacher Work Sample that they have met the requirements for the MOSTEP indicators that are appropriate at each block. Students will be responsible for documenting evidence to show they have met the requirements for specific indicators during their Block IV student teaching experience.
The pre-service program also introduces students to the state performance standards called the Show-Me Standards. This document contains standards for content knowledge in the areas of communication arts, mathematics, science, social studies, fine arts and health that students in grades K-12 should meet. In addition to the 40 “knowledge” standards the document also contains 33 “performance” standards that deal with the ability to use and apply one’s knowledge in real life situations. There are four major goals in this area.
GOAL 1: Students in Missouri public schools will acquire the knowledge and skills to gather, analyze and apply information and ideas.
Students are required to complete a teacher work sample (TWS) that employs a range of strategies and builds on each student’s strengths, needs, and prior experiences. Many reading this summary will recognize the TWS as a unit plan, but a unit plan that is more detailed in guiding instruction for all the diversity captured in a classroom of students. Through this performance assessment, teacher candidates provide credible evidence of their ability to facilitate learning by meeting the following TWS standards.
The intent of this section is to give cooperating teachers essential information and an at-a-glance overview of the experience of mentoring a teacher candidate. First of all, relax and be assured that most experiences with teacher candidates are positive and interesting. Be assured that paperwork is kept to a minimum and that help will be available when needed. The first step is to continue to read this section.
What has happened prior to your receiving this assignment? Students applying for a student teaching assignment have met the following University requirements:
Block I requires students to observe children and adolescents in a non public school site for a total of 24 clock hours. Block II is done in a school setting in which students observe, tutor, assist a teacher, and present a lesson to public school students in their area (elementary or secondary). Block III requires continued placement in a public school classroom to observe, assist, and teach lessons to students in their grade or subject area.
Block IV is the student teaching block and includes an 8 week experience in two different school districts. Teacher candidates may not be employed in a school district in a teaching capacity and receive credit for student teaching. The teacher candidate you will be supervising has been in at least two other school classrooms for approximately 100 hours observing, assessing, tutoring, and teaching lessons before student teaching. This does not mean that teacher candidates can assume full classroom responsibilities the first few days, but they should know what to expect. However, if you have a teacher candidate the second half of a semester he/she will have completed about seven weeks of student teaching and can assume responsibilities much quicker than during their first half of student teaching. The teacher candidate will be expected to perform at a higher level of competence during the second half. Refer to page 15 (#10) for further explanation of expectations.
By now you should have received a letter from the University Field Experiences Office confirming the assignment and giving you the name of the teacher candidate. The letter should have also let you know when to expect the teacher candidate. During the Fall Semester teacher candidates are encouraged to participate in opening of school activities. Feel free to extend an invitation for them to do so if your school starts before the University semester opens. After teacher candidates report, they should follow your school calendar rather than the University calendar.
The cooperating teacher has an opportunity to make a valuable contribution to the education of beginning teachers and consequently to the profession. Student teaching enables the University to utilize the valuable skills of cooperating teachers and to greatly enhance the teacher education program. The University asks that teachers voluntarily assume the role of a cooperating teacher and meet the other qualifications including three years of experience and appropriate certification.
Since one doesn't just begin supervision when the teacher candidate arrives the first day, and by no means does supervision end when the teacher candidate begins full-time teaching, the title of this section may be somewhat misleading. Several of the thoughts about how best to begin which were shared by previous supervising teachers, both in conferences and other discussions, might be a good way to introduce this section; the question basically is, "How should a cooperating teacher prepare in advance for the arrival of the teacher candidate?" These are suggested answers to that question:
I tell my students that we are going to have two teachers for a while. I do not tell them that one is a teacher candidate.
Students should be told ahead of time that a teacher candidate will be coming soon. Scheduling is needed in areas where teacher candidates will be working with more than one classroom supervisor.
(Primary level) Students wrote letters to teacher candidate telling her about themselves, then mailed letter.
Prepare classes by considering teacher candidate as a colleague rather than a student. Set this tone for your classes.
After I know who my teacher candidate is, I phone her/him several weeks in advance and arrange a personal interview and discuss the units that he/she might teach. I also show the teacher candidate the textbooks and give a tour of the school, treat her/him to coffee or other refreshments. I try to learn about her/his interests, hobbies, and educational background ahead of time.
*This information, which was adopted from Central Missouri State University's Supervising
Teachers' Guidebook (1990), is slightly modified and contains practical advice for
cooperating teachers and clarifies their roles and responsibilities both formally
These positive suggestions, or similar ones, are designed to provide an atmosphere that can establish a real possibility for success. Please note the feeling expressed by several that it is important that the students be placed in a climate in which they feel like colleagues, where it will be natural and normal for students and teachers alike to see the teacher candidates as co-teachers, emphasizing the "teacher" part of the title, rather than "student." We also find particularly appropriate any preliminary assistance that can help teacher candidates find out in advance something about the classes they will be teaching and the students with whom they will be working. A brief orientation to the availability of technology and usage would be helpful, also.
When teacher candidates enter the classroom for the first time, the over-riding feelings are probably fear coupled with extreme insecurity. Perhaps the greatest service a cooperating teacher can render at the start is to help teacher candidates build a sense of personal security and confidence. Again, we want to rely upon suggestions provided by experienced supervising teachers in this regard:
Cooperating teachers may find the need to assist teacher candidates with more personal problems after they spend a few days in their assignment. If the student is amenable to suggestions, the following items might be pertinent. (If the problem is too personal but has to be resolved, it is possible that the University Supervisor may be able to provide a satisfactory third-party solution that will preserve the desired relationship between you and the student).
So the day arrives, and with it the teacher candidate, ready for the experience that has been looked forward to for so long. What can be done to provide the best possible start? Here are some suggestions from experienced supervising teachers.
There are differing philosophies as to how early the teacher candidate should begin teaching. We have occasionally been asked to provide a time table, a week-by-week schedule involving the three major sub-divisions of student teaching: observation, participation, and teaching (with the latter divided, perhaps, into beginning teaching experiences, adding classes or activities, and full-time teaching). We believe most supervising teachers understand and accept the response usually given to such requests, such a schedule would be meaningless. The factors vary greatly from student to student, supervisor to supervisor, school to school, and subject to subject. Let us simply indicate some extremes: It seems that turning over all classes or activities to the teacher candidate the second or third day of the period, or even the first week during the first half teaching experience would be quite unusual for most students and in most settings or subjects. If teacher candidates have not yet been given responsibility for at least some classes or activities on a regular basis by the third week, there would seem to be some reason for concern on our part—either the teacher, for personal reasons, is unwilling to relinquish time and classes to the teacher candidate, or the teacher candidate has not provided the necessary feeling of confidence concerning competence. Certainly in the latter circumstance questions should be raised and decisions made as to the student continuing in the setting.
Usually the teacher candidate will spend a varying amount of time early in the term in observation. The teacher candidate should have the opportunity, while observing, to:
Teacher candidates should be told what the cooperating teacher has planned and what
objectives are generally being sought, as well as some of the problems to be overcome.
The student should be encouraged to take notes and ask questions following the observation.
Discussing what has been done and what the teacher candidate has understood about
the progress of student learning can be a valuable learning experience in itself.
Participation in a student’s IEP meeting often comes up as a question from cooperating teachers. Observing an IEP setting would be an excellent experience for teacher candidates; however, these meetings are often sensitive and sometimes not appropriate for teacher candidates. If, however, all parties involved with an IEP were willing to allow a teacher candidate to observe, such an experience would give the student even more insights into the professional life of a teacher. Please make it extremely clear to the teacher candidate that what is said and what is seen in these meetings must stay in these meetings.
For most supervisors and students alike, observation is seldom isolated from, and usually blends imperceptibly into, the second phase of student teaching, participation. Teachers and teacher candidates alike, as they become attuned to each other, are more like co-workers when each is assisting in the learning process.
Participation is usually distinguished from the other stages in student teaching because the teacher candidate actively participates in helping to perpetuate the learning process for students in the classroom. What the teacher candidate does is controlled by the supervising teacher, who has planned the lesson, who conducts it, and who is still basically responsible for evaluating its effectiveness. The teacher candidate may work with individuals at their desks, participate in small-group discussions, work with individuals needing special practice on skills, answer questions during study periods, and so on. Participation would also include certain routine responsibilities such as taking roll, lunch count and other home room duties, assisting at lunch, recess, before and after school and in assemblies, helping distribute materials, taking care of the room, grading papers, etc.
Teaching is the third phase in student teaching, the phase most anticipated by students although usually with a little apprehension. In this phase the teacher candidate has responsibility for planning and presenting learning activities and is also responsible, at least initially, for evaluating their success. One objective of student teaching is to enable the student to get a complete overview of the teacher's task professionally, and certainly the whole-day teaching experience, for some definite period of time is necessary for that objective to be reached. Cooperating teacher and teacher candidate alike may benefit from a cooperative effort where the teacher candidate takes one class or activity at a time, adds others as competency is gained, relinquishes from time to time (in a technique we informally call "leap-frogging") a class or two after having added another one or two, all the time working closely with the supervising teacher and observing that teacher both before and after his or her own efforts. In this way, the teacher candidate gains a feeling of competence as well as constant support and assistance from the supervisor. The teacher candidate knows that each class or activity can be "handled" before the entire teaching schedule must be assumed. Time for reflection and synthesis is gained. The teacher candidate has an opportunity to try varying approaches and to develop an individual teaching style. The supervising teacher maintains close contact with the classes that must be a continuing responsibility after the teacher candidate leaves. This gradual method seems most appropriate for the first-half teacher candidate. The process should be accelerated for the second-half teacher candidate.
Planning with a teacher candidate is considered imperative in student teaching. Some reasons are:
Broad, general areas that should be included in planning are:
Experience indicates that many teacher candidates need to give more consideration to one or more of the following aspects of written lesson plans:
The University based supervisor of student teaching may be a full time staff member whose only assignment is student teaching, a full time University staff member who teaches some courses at the University, but supervises teacher candidates part-time, or a part-time faculty member who is employed to supervise teacher candidates. Allpart-time supervisors of student teachinghave work beyond the masters’ level and have experience teaching in the public schools. At least once each semester they participate in a student teaching workshop. Workshops and conferences are conducted for improving skills. The Director of Field Experiences coordinates the field experience program and student teaching assignments are made through this office.
Supervisors make their first visit early in the term usually during the first week to get acquainted. They will make three visits to complete formal evaluations of the teacher candidate. These visits will include observation and pre- and post- conferences. A final visit includes an observation and a summative evaluation and conference with the student and cooperating teacher. Supervisors may make other visits when required. However, a full time supervisor has twenty teacher candidates each semester, and this limits the number of visits possible. Particular problems may be referred to the Director of Field Experiences at 651-2125.
Generally speaking the University supervisors are asked to abide by the following visitation procedures:
Teacher candidates should report to the school at the time stated in their assignment letter and continue until the stated ending date. Students are to make up days missed when approved by the school and cooperating teacher. Absences should be discussed with the supervisor and the teacher candidate should call the cooperating teacher and supervisor when he/she will be absent. The University calendar marks the beginning of the student teaching period, but University holidays or breaks or ending dates do not apply since some makeup days may extend the experience. The University does not have a dress policy. We expect students to be in compliance with the policies in the assigned school system. Other expectations primarily indicate the exercise of good taste and common sense.
Teacher candidates are encouraged to join SMSTA or SMNEA, either of which will provide them with Professional Liability Insurance.
The cooperating teacher is expected to complete three formative evaluations and one summative evaluation, discuss each with the teacher candidate, and sign the forms. The University supervisor will likewise complete four evaluation forms and conference with the student. Specific instructions for evaluation are given in the next section. Teacher candidates are required to keep a weekly account of time spent in various teaching and school-related activities. This Work Progress Report is turned in at the close of the term and is kept on permanent file in the Field Experiences Office. Cooperating teachers are asked to sign this sheet. Cooperating teachers are asked to fill out a short evaluation of the program that will be distributed at the end of the experience. The teacher candidate may also ask the cooperating teacher to fill out a form for her/his placement file.
University Coordinator/Supervisors are urged to conduct small group cooperating teacher workshops. Hopefully these workshops will be held at a location that is within district or within easy driving distance for all individuals involved. The PowerPoint Teacher candidate and Cooperating Teacher Orientation: Suggestions for Hosting a Teacher Candidate will be the main focus for the cooperating workshop. It would be good for teacher candidates to attend this workshop.
There is an honorarium paid those approximately 200 cooperating teachers who supervise a teacher candidate each semester for a 8 week period. This serves as a token of our appreciation for the help cooperating teachers provide. Two teachers who share responsibility for a teacher candidate will receive a share of the honorarium. However, only one cooperating teacher will be recognized as the “teacher of record”. We believe that the satisfaction received from making a contribution to the profession far exceeds the value of the honorarium. We truly hope that the change of routine in having a teacher candidate is interesting and helpful to each cooperating teacher. Further, we in the Field Experiences Office are available for help to participating districts.
Students and University supervisors are cautioned about the confidential nature of student records and the need to avoid public criticism of students, teachers, or other school personnel. Administrators may want to consider putting "teacher candidates" on their student record access list since it may be necessary for the teacher candidate to view records in order to plan instruction. The fact that the teacher candidates hold a substitute teaching certificate and have considerably more than 60 hours which is required of a substitute, makes it reasonable to allow them access.
The Field Experience or Clinical Director is given the authority to suspend students from the clinical setting for the causes set out herein. Actions shall be taken when, in the judgment of the Director, the best interest of the University and the cooperating clinical site will be served by immediate suspension of the student from clinical experience.
Prior to, or within five business days immediately following the suspension, the student
will be notified in writing of the reason or reasons for suspension and will be given
an opportunity to confer with the Director to present any reasons the suspension should
not take place or be continued. If, at such conference, the Director decides the student
should be suspended, or, if suspension has already occurred, continued, the student
shall have five business days thereafter to appeal the decision of the Director to
the Dean of the appropriate college. If an appeal is filed, a hearing by the Dean
will be held within five business days. The Dean will render a decision within five
business days after the hearing, or within such other time as may be mutually agreed.
The decision of the Dean shall be a final decision.
Students in a clinical setting may be suspended from a placement in a private or public setting for one or more of the following causes:
Student teaching is not intended for what is normally thought of as substituting: that is, taking the place of a teacher other than the assigned cooperating teacher in cases of absence or other emergency. In such an event, we suggest to our students that they assume control of the room in which they are familiar (the assigned room) while the assigned cooperating teacher assists if needed elsewhere in an emergency. We do not feel that a substitute is required in the assigned teacher's place in such an emergency situation, but the school system may have a different policy, or the principal may decide otherwise because of characteristics already displayed by the teacher candidate. When the cooperating teacher is out of the building, some certified staff member should be designated by the principal to lend assistance if needed. In any extended absence, of course, it will be necessary for other arrangements to be considered, and our supervisors will take the initiative in assisting in arranging assignment changes.
The University is responsible for granting credit and reporting teacher candidates' marks. However, when University supervisors are attempting to arrive at final marks for teacher candidates, the recommendations of cooperating teachers are not only sought but welcomed as well. The basis for evaluation of the first half of student teaching is quality and consistency of demonstration of the teaching competencies as reflected in the formative and summative performance assessments, and satisfactory completion of course assignment seminars and readings (e.g. unit plans, lesson plans, etc.). The following marking system may be used as a guideline for the first half of Block IV: (Please refer to the evaluation form in the appendix.)
After the first few weeks the teacher candidate should be given a good deal of time in the room without the cooperating teacher present, assuming things are going well. Obviously the cooperating teacher can then enjoy some benefits of having a teacher candidate that may allow some time to plan or take care of many items that ordinarily you would like to have time to do. However, giving the teacher candidate time alone with the class does not rule out somewhat frequent visits by the cooperating teacher to maintain contact and check on the progress of the class. Also, it should be clear that several observations and conferences with the teacher candidate should be done apart from the three formal evaluations. The summative evaluation should be completed by the cooperating teacher, discussed with the teacher candidate and signed by both.
Further, the greatest benefits for the teacher candidate and cooperating teacher come when the cooperating teacher and University supervisor share with the teacher candidate practical instructional strategies and relate them to research and theory about circumstances under which greater learning takes place. Cooperating teachers and supervisors contribute greatly to the teacher candidate’s education when they model how theory and current research can be applied in the classroom. Some examples are provided for you.
If a cooperating teacher agrees with the premise that students learn and retain information better when advanced organizers are given, he/she might outline and make an overhead of main points to be covered in the lesson. This could be displayed as the teacher candidate presents the lesson and the cooperating teacher might point out to students on the overhead what is being discussed and what is coming next. This would also give the teacher candidate an opportunity to observe how to integrate the multiple intelligences in a lesson to show learning improves for some students when both auditory and visual media carry the message. Similarly while the teacher candidate teaches, the cooperating teacher could outline main points on the board or overhead. Or, the procedure could be reversed especially if the teacher candidate is at the observation stage.
If the cooperating teacher and teacher candidate are convinced as some research indicates
that we call on slower student less often and give them less time to answer, the two
could team again to keep record of wait time and who is called on most frequently.
If a cooperating teacher is interested in the benefits of cooperative learning or whole language instruction, but has been reluctant to try it, having another teacher in the room may provide the opportunity to experiment with those concepts.
All this is said to make the following points:
If a good relationship exists between student and cooperating teachers, team teaching is an excellent way to try new ideas, to give support at the beginning to the teacher candidate, and to make observation a more active process. This makes supervision more active and rewarding. This may not be for everybody or for the total experience.
Supervision is an active, not a passive, task; observation in supervision means that the supervisor will be doing something. There are models for observation that include a pre-observation conference for the purpose of establishing communication with the person to be observed, determining the plans for teaching the lesson and establishing a contact between the supervisor and the person being observed relative to goals and "ground rules."
Observing the teacher candidate includes such actions as making certain of the teacher candidate's plans for the observed hour, establishing a base in the room from which both the teacher candidate and the students can be easily seen without causing undue distraction to either, deciding whether or not a specific feedback device will be used, and if so, what kind (note-taking, audio tape recorder, video tape recorder, etc.), deciding whether or not an analysis system of some type will be used (such as a form for determining interaction effectiveness), and making similar decisions which will be helpful in talking to the teacher candidate about the lesson.
Note taking is the best way of capturing the essentials of a lesson with the most economical use of time and equipment. However, note taking can be very threatening to the teacher candidate until and unless the student realizes that judgments are not being made that will drastically affect evaluation. Hence, some of the time it may be best to describe what is seen, leaving the teacher candidate free during the ensuing conference to decide what, if anything, to do about the behaviors that have been described.
Informal observation and feedback are vital to training a teacher. However, formal formative observations and reports must be done to help the teacher candidate experience evaluation with the Missouri Performance Based Teacher Evaluation Model , MOSTEP standards and to document progress and competency.
Since each cooperating teacher will need to do three such evaluations, we suggest that a schedule of these evaluations be discussed with the supervisor so that formal observation and evaluation by the cooperating teacher does not come on the same day as the supervisor does an evaluation. Greater benefit is realized when these evaluations are spread over the total experience. The first two evaluations should be announced in time to give the teacher candidate a chance to "shine" and show what they can do. We suggest to supervisors that their first two visits be announced. Some may choose to give the teacher candidate notice of all the formal observations. This will depend on one's philosophy as well as the characteristics of the individual teacher candidate. Announced visits can usually be conducted in the same manner that principals conduct formative evaluations on teachers in the school district.
A pre-conference should be scheduled to review the lesson plan or pre-observation work sheet. (Appendix) In discussing this, questions should be confined to items to help the cooperating teacher understand what is included on the worksheet/lesson plan. You may want to help the teacher candidate fill out the first pre-observation work sheet to avoid a totally inappropriate lesson plan. Explain your expectations thoroughly so the teacher candidate knows what he/she needs to do prior to filling out the work sheet. The desire is to build the confidence of the teacher candidate before he/she presents the first lesson.
The following points may be helpful in raising the bar for the student during a pre-conference. Hal Portner (Mentoring New Teachers) offers these coaching points below.
Observe an entire lesson in an inconspicuous manner. Do not interrupt the lesson unless some dangerous or grossly improper activity is taking place. Take as many notes as possible of what is taking place, what the teacher is saying or doing, and what the students are doing. Good notes shared with a teacher candidate establish your credibility for paying attention and being thorough. This also gives an objective basis for your conference with the teacher candidate. If the student requested help with any specific behavior, make a notation during the pre-conference, observe and document during the lesson to discuss with the teacher candidate in the conference.
Some prefer to take notes and fill out the form later. Others take notes on the form and mark the indicators with a plus or minus and note the criteria and comment on the steps in the teaching process as they go. Whichever plan is chosen, notes should be shared with the teacher candidate and the form should be completed and signed. The post-conference should take place as soon as possible. If it cannot be done that day, at least the teacher candidate should be given general feedback as to how the performance was viewed.
Some prefer to start the conference by asking the teacher candidate how they felt it went. Some prefer to ask specific questions such as: "What did you feel went well with the lesson?" "Did you include everything you meant to?" "How did you feel about the students' reactions?" Others prefer to begin by reviewing notes and "replaying" what they observed and then giving an opportunity to the teacher candidate to respond to your description of what happened. It may be wise to begin with a positive comment about a specific item especially if you can give positive feedback about an item on the pre-observation worksheet that they asked you to address. It is important the teacher candidate self-assess their performance.
It may be wise to preface the conference with comments about how teacher candidates are expected to respond to "suggestions." (Some would say "criticism" and explain that constructive criticism is not meant to tear down but to build. Most people are sensitive to criticism, but teacher candidates are particularly vulnerable and need a most kind and diplomatic approach.)
If possible, through discussion arrive at 2 or 3 suggestions for improvement. Describe clearly the situation and what action the teacher candidate might take. Then ask her/him to state it to be sure the intent has been communicated. Ideally the cooperating teacher might demonstrate/model the action with the class. Have the teacher candidate try it later, giving immediate informal feedback. Feedback should be as specific as possible. Instead of just saying, "You did a fine job," elaborate by saying "The way you opened the lesson really got the students' attention," or "I like the way you got Joey to participate in the discussion." Good observation skills, knowledge of good teaching skills, and experience are keys to providing good feedback.
During the post-conference the goal again is to probe with open-ended questions. Hal Portner provides another series of questions, which could be helpful.
Near the end of the experience the cooperating teacher will need to review the formative evaluations and informal observations as well as items related to how the teacher candidate related to the staff and parents and items related to professionalism, following of school rules, and performance beyond classroom duties. From a review of this information, a summative form is to be completed. Confer with the supervisor and give input as to the success of the student, and any grade recommendations. The summative evaluation should be explained to the teacher candidate and signed by the teacher candidate and cooperating teacher.
In conclusion, we say that evaluation and grading are two separate processes in student teaching. The cooperating teacher will have indirect input into the grades given, but it is the supervisor's responsibility, as an employee and agent of the University, to determine and submit final grades.
Cooperating teachers do have direct input into the permanent placement records of the teacher candidate if they are asked to complete a placement form by the teacher candidate. The information provided on that form helps administrators come to a preliminary decision concerning the teacher candidate's competence in the matter of hiring. What is said about the teacher candidate is of great importance. We trust that careful consideration will be given to the statements written and the checkmarks provided. A balanced statement, reflecting both strengths and areas of needed improvement, will reflect the best professional judgment.
Conferencing as a technique in supervision has acquired extensive literature. It is important for a cooperating teacher to provide feedback to teacher candidates through regular conferencing following student teaching observations. If we were to state one single criticism of supervising teachers from teacher candidates following the term (and actually, few are received), it would be that more suggestions or criticisms were desired. They often say that supervisors were tremendous teachers and good friends, but did not seem to assist, in a constructive way, with problems which arose and which needed to be solved by the use of friendly but firm guidance from experience. We think one of the things students had in mind was that supervisors do not always seem aware of how to say something that needs to be said without being afraid of jeopardizing the relationship--so they say nothing, or at most, "You're doing fine."
It has been noted that teacher candidates are usually very sensitive to your suggestions and at times may overreact by overdoing the action suggested or by dwelling on a suggestion considered to be minor. Conversely, if an issue is of great importance the cooperating teacher should be concise and emphatic with her/his suggestions.
Cooperating teachers may find it helpful to review the agreement between school districts and the University.
The assistance given by cooperating teachers and administrators is appreciated. If you have suggestions or need assistance, feel free to call the Field Experiences Office at 651-2125.
Public schools selected must have an approved rating from the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education or the equivalent from the Illinois Department of Education. Non-public schools must have accreditation by an approved agency such as the North Central Association, the University of Missouri, or other acceptable accreditation agencies. Participating schools must also have signed working agreements with Southeast Missouri State University.