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Music Education

Handbook for Cooperating Teachers

This handbook is a guide for Kansas State University's student teachers and cooperating teachers in music. The suggested sequence of activities reflects the student's needs for orientation, cooperative planning, a variety of teaching experiences, continuous observation, and feedback/evaluation. These needs can best be met if the student's work is regularly observed and open communication and trust are developed among the cooperating teacher, the University supervisor, and the student teacher. All three must work together to develop and maintain a culture of mentoring.

Responsibilities of the Cooperating Teacher

The cooperating teacher needs to tackle the role of the nurturing but honest mentor. In order to assist the student teacher to advance from student to teacher, the cooperating teacher should:

  1. Aid the Student Teacher in quickly becoming familiar with the class curriculum, communicate
    your immediate goals and long-range objectives at an orientation conference. (see below)
  2. Help the Student Teacher to be viewed and respected by the pupils as a second teacher in
    the classroom rather than a student or helper. Clearly communicate the Student Teacher's role so to establish a good working relationship. Student teachers are expected to participate in all activities associated with your job. This includes outside of the normal school day. Expect that they will be assisting or shadowing everything that you do.
  3. Demonstrate good teaching techniques and methods. Help the Student Teacher identify what
    to observe and discuss specific aspects of the lesson with them.
  4. Involve the Student Teacher in all planning and classroom activities from the first day. Start with duties such as collecting monies, attendance, hall supervision, etc., as well as working with individual pupils and small groups. Then involve the student teacher in leading classroom instruction as soon as possible. Consider a cooperative or team teaching approach, if you have an interest in trying such an
    organizational structure.
  5. Require a detailed plan for each class taught by the student teacher. The student teacher needs to experience thoughtful and organized planning. Discuss the lesson plan with the Student Teacher before the lesson is taught, and again after. In the beginning especially, observe the lesson and help the student teacher to evaluate it in terms of whether the objectives were met, and how it could be improved, Allow the Student Teacher to try various teaching methods and techniques, even though you may choose not to use them yourself. Provide the Student Teacher with both verbal and written feedback. Point out the Student Teachers’ basic strengths as well as identifying areas needing improvement. Both informal and formal conferences will be beneficial.
  6. Plan for the Student Teacher to assume full teaching responsibility during the last two weeks as much as possible.
  7. Notify the University Supervisor if the Student Teacher is unable to do required work. This
    should be done as early as possible, so deficiencies may be corrected in time to allow the
    Student Teacher to have a successful student teaching experience.
  8. Complete online Kansas State University evaluation form at the end of the session.
  9. Student teachers can not legally fill the role of a substitute teacher, but they may teach in your absence if there is another adult in the room with legal responsibilities.

Cooperating teachers should provide appropriate introductions to the school's facilities, staff, and administrators. Then a goal-settingconference is the first in a cycle of conferences that can establish open and honest lines of communication. It will foster a feeling of mutual respect, one that will allow the student teacher to feel free to ask questions and understand that you will take time to offer suggestions for improvement on a regular basis. This conference should:

  1. Inquire of the student teacher's concerns.
  2. Provide the student teachers with sufficient information to know the building and its personnel and become part of the day-to-day procedures defining school-wide expectations (e.g., share teacher handbook)
  3. Discuss attendance at after-school meetings and/or night functions, arrival/dismissal times, and procedures for absenteeism
  4. Explain school-wide policies and student behavior expectations (e.g., discipline policies for students).
  5. Share important information from the student handbook for the school and for your courses exposing essential school policy. Clarify of instructional content of the courses, your personal philosophy of music education, and the curricular goals of your program.
  6. Make the student teacher aware of students with special needs and their responsibility in response to these needs before they are exposed to the students. Part of the student teacher's responsibility is to document learning modifications for students. You should help them begin completing this portion of their student teaching portfolio as soon as they arrive to your school.
  7. Create an overall plan for integration into the classroom from observation to full inclusion.

Beginning and Ending Dates

In general, the student teacher should teach as many weeks as possible. This means starting as soon as your school begins or music program activities begin and end on the last day of the KSU semester. The absolute minimum is 16 weeks. The student teacher is encouraged to continue teaching past the end of the KSU semester so they can participate in concert activities.

The Teaching Schedule

As soon as possible, a teaching schedule should be developed cooperatively between you and the student teacher. This should be sent to the University Supervisor no later than the end of the first week after the student teacher arrives. Initially the student teacher will teach in selected classes but should have full responsibility (or as much as possible) for teaching by the final two weeks of the session.


Regular attendance is expected of student teachers reflecting professionalism. Unauthorized or lengthy absences may require an extension of the student teaching experience. No University or personal activities are to interfere with student teaching. The student teacher's work day is the same as that of the cooperating teacher. Inform the University supervisor if a student teacher begins to show signs of tardiness or absenteeism.

Conduct and Attire

The student teacher is expected to observe high standards of dress, personal appearance, and professional conduct. They are to establish a friendly but professional relationship with the students. It will be tempting for them to relate to students as friends. Such relationships can cause serious problems so bring this to their awareness.

University Supervisor Visits

The University supervisor will observe the student teacher as soon as they are teaching segments of 15 minutes or more. A second observation will occur around week 6 or 7 of the eight week segment. Student teachers will make weekly reports via email to the supervising teacher. Conferences via video cam may be provided if there is appropriate internet connection.

Participation Expectation

Student teachers are expected to participate in all the activities that are a normal part of your teaching responsibility. This includes before and after school activities, extra rehearsals, professional meetings, festivals and clinics. The student teacher's commute time to and from school, secondary jobs, or KSU activities should not be allowed to be used as an excuse for not attending such activities. All of the rules and responsibilities that pertain to you as a teacher also pertain to the student teacher.