Rather than performing a high-wire act in the classroom with little support, student teachers are working collaboratively with their mentors, who serve as cooperating teachers. They develop lesson plans together, share ideas and observations, and work as a team in the classroom. The real winners are the students, whose achievement levels rise in such an environment.
“Everybody wins when the cooperating teacher and student teacher are on the same page,” says Peggy Kelly, dean of the College of Education & Integrative Studies. “Both receive the same training in six key areas — student teachers during their coursework and cooperating teachers during a Saturday workshop. Cal Poly Pomona is the model for the CSUs in this regard.”
Among the six areas of instruction are parallel teaching, where the pair divide the class, thus decreasing the student-teacher ratio; team teaching, where each takes on part of a lesson plan and augments the other¿s presentation; and support teaching, where one teaches and the other roams the class to provide one-on-one support to students who have questions or might be struggling with the material.
The concept, originally developed at St. Cloud State University in Minnesota, has been put into practice in more than 100 classrooms in Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties and will expand this year when another 100 student teachers enter the classroom. Kelly says nearly every cooperating teacher who participated last year has asked to re-up, and as word of the program’s success has spread, other teachers have put their hand up to attend the workshop.
Linda Freedman, a teacher at Collegewood Elementary in Walnut who participated in the workshop last year, says the training delivered clear results.
“The co-teaching workshop gave me specific strategies to work with my student teacher right from the first day,” Freedman says. “I had a full partner, which proved valuable for everyone. The clear and explicit strategies we both learned supported my kids’ learning.”
State Farm Insurance has provided $20,000 to underwrite the cost of the weekend workshops on campus, which are free to teachers.
“State Farm has a long history of fostering education,” says Agency Field Executive Cindy Stronks. “This program gives aspiring teachers a way to reach out not only for educational support, but moral support as well. We’re excited about how it uses mentoring and relationships to give them a strong foundation for success.”
(Photo: Joanna Hall teaches a fourth-grade class at Cucamonga Elementary School in Rancho Cucamonga on March 13, 2009.)
Cal Poly Pomona has embarked on a $150 million comprehensive fundraising campaign to ensure that a quality college education is within reach for future generations of students. The campaign will strengthen the university’s ability to provide a hands-on education, to prepare students for the changing demands of the workplace, and to increase research and scholarship opportunities. The fundraising campaign relies on the support of the entire campus community — from alumni to faculty and staff to friends of the university. For more information, visit http://campaign.cpp.edu/.