Working with Student Teachers: A Mixed Methods Study to Examine the Roles and Self-Identified Dispositions of Cooperating Teachers
Rivera, Danielle Alliene
Valli, Linda R
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A critical component of teacher education is the field experience during which candidates practice under the supervision of experienced teachers. Programs use the InTASC Standards to define the requisite knowledge, skills, and dispositions for teaching. Practicing teachers are familiar with the concepts of knowledge and skills, but they are less familiar with dispositions. Practicing teachers who mentor prospective teachers are underrepresented in the literature, but they are critical to teacher preparation. The research goals were to describe the self-identified dispositions of cooperating teachers, identify what cooperating teachers consider their role in preparing prospective teachers, and explain challenges that cooperating teachers face. Using a mixed methods design, I conducted a quantitative survey followed by a qualitative case study. When I compared survey and case study data, cooperating teachers report possessing InTASC critical dispositions described in Standard 2: Learning Differences, Standard 3: Learning Environments, and Standard 9: Professional Learning and Ethical Practice, but not Standard 6: Assessment and Standard 10: Leadership and Collaboration. Cooperating teachers assume the roles of modeler, mentor and advisor, and informal evaluator. They explain student teachers often lack skills and dispositions to assume full teaching responsibilities and recommend that universities better prepare candidates for classrooms. Cooperating teachers felt university evaluations were not relevant to teaching reality. I recommend modifying field experiences to increase the quantity and duration of classroom placements. I suggest further research to detail cooperating teacher dispositions, compare cooperating teachers who work with different universities, and determine if cooperating teacher dispositions influence student teacher dispositions.