About the Student Teacher &
Cooperating Teacher Voices Project

The purpose of this website is to address the role expectations, relationships, and communications between student teachers (ST) and cooperating teachers (CT or CI) in order to positively impact the student teaching experience.


Ask any teacher and they will tell you that the student teaching experience was, if not the most, then one of the most important experiences in their teacher preparation program. While most teachers found the student teaching experience to be postitive, others say they learned in spite of the negative experience. The students and teachers we interviewed have told us that at times the student teaching placement was not all that it could have been: some feel that they never fully integrated into the classroom, others say that their time and skills were not used appropriately, and still others express that they always felt like a student, and never a teacher.

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Student teaching represents such a significant component of teacher preparation that a complete semester is often devoted to it. Teacher educators know that student teachers tend to imitate the attitudes and behaviors of the cooperating teacher. However, an effective CT encourages the ST to move beyond imitation to a focus on exploration. The ST must learn to problem-solve and reflect on daily and long-range instruction. An effective CT makes instruction transparent and demonstrates professional thinking and reflection that raises questions and critically evaluates possible solutions.

The important dialogue between a CT and ST doesn’t just happen. It begins with the key players each understanding their own role in relation to the other member of the instructional team and continues to develop though effective interactions and ongoing communication. We created this website with the goal of helping this understanding and promoting effective communication.

To develop this project, we investigated the expectations of both CTs and STs and how these views impact the student teaching experience.

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Perusal of the website will provide:
  • Insight into the common misbeliefs held by student teachers and cooperating teachers about their roles;
  • strategies to enhance communication skills leading to improved interactions;
  • tips for resolving common issues that exist between student teachers and cooperating teachers; and
  • insight into the "voices" of student teachers and cooperating teachers through short video clips.

Many thanks to our participants

We thank the student teachers who were interviewed during this project for sharing their experiences and honest insights:

Brittany Atkins, Carolyn Crabtree, AJ Delauder, Daniel Furman, Sophie Hyman, Tess Krovetz, Anthony Nobles, Veronica Rabadan, Julia Smith, Hillary Trebels and Kelly-Ann Williams

Thanks to the cooperating teachers/clinical instructors who were interviewed during this project for sharing their knowledge and expertise:

Leah Baranik, Kathy Claus, Jean D'Antoni, Paul Dolenc, Anna Isley, Stephanie Lamm, Marcie McKenzie, Philip Plowman, Cynthia Randolph and Barbara Rosen.

Thanks to Margaret (Mittie) Harvey for participating in the assertive communication overview, which was adapted from the workshop she developed at the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia.

Thanks to the students who attended the 2013 Assertive Communication Workshop:

AJ Delauder, Nick Deldotto, Sarah Hemenway, Sophie Hyman and Tess Krovetz, Frances Meadows, Aisha Mohammed, Marelle Myers, Danielle Robinson and Julia Smith

Thank you to Fares Karam for conducting the interviews with cooperating teachers.


Funding Was Made Possible by...

The Student Teacher & Cooperating Teacher Voices website is the direct result of a Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) Clinical faculty training grant: Listening to Student Teacher and Clinical Instructor Voices. (Grant #879-SY12CFG). The project directors were Drs. Sandra B. Cohen and Ruth Ferree of the Teacher Education Program at the University of Virginia (UVA) Curry School of Education. Spring Brennan designed and developed the website and multimedia.