Reaching the Bar: Cooperating Teachers' Expectations for Student Teachers

  • Author / Creator
    Sharek, Jonathan P
  • The education and preparation of pre-service teachers for K-12 classrooms remains a
    widely discussed area of education literature. Expectations are high for new teachers to be
    capable to manage contemporary classrooms as they replenish the profession. The practicum is
    widely acknowledged to be key to teacher preparation as each graduate must complete at least
    one practicum round of classroom-based student teaching. Previous research has reported a large
    divide between universities and schools, role ambiguity among practicum partners, and
    inconsistent approaches across university programs as longstanding issues in teacher education.
    Cooperating teachers, classroom mentors of student teachers, are crucial partners in the
    practicum. A review of education literature suggests that cooperating teachers’ voices are often
    not heard in research and their expectations for student teachers are understudied.
    This qualitative interview study examined ways in which classroom teachers view their
    roles as mentors for student teachers. The following research question guided this study: What
    do cooperating teachers expect from student teachers? Three sub-questions that further guided
    the study are (1) How do cooperating teachers describe their expectations for student teachers?
    (2) What do cooperating teachers communicate to student teachers about expectations for the
    teaching practicum? (3) In what ways are cooperating teachers’ expectations for student teachers
    shaped and formed?
    Data was collected through 10 semi-structured interviews in select K-12 urban schools in
    Alberta, Canada. This interpretive study was guided by a pragmatic approach and the
    researcher’s practitioner positionality. This study identified emergent themes from participants’
    descriptions of their experiences with mentoring student teachers. The themes were discussed within larger categories: Insider and Outsider Positionality, Cooperating Teachers’ Professional Commitment and Mentoring, and Recognizing Idiosyncratic Nature of Cooperating Teachers.
    This study suggests that while cooperating teachers often approach mentoring with enthusiasm
    and can experience benefits, longstanding challenges inhibiting the potential of a practicum can
    remain: a theory/practice divide with universities, the practical demands of content and pacing,
    and cooperating teachers’ experiences of classroom isolation and limited professional
    This practitioner research has implications for the partners in student teaching such as
    universities, school divisions, and cooperating teachers. It may help to build awareness in
    university programs of cooperating teachers’ expectations of pre-service teachers. This study
    may help school divisions and cooperating teachers emerge from silos to explore conversations
    about how closely their attitudes, perspectives, and choices surrounding student teachers align.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2023
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Education
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.