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Student Teaching Innovation: Coteaching Trios at Colorado State University

A new video in AACTE’s Research-to-Practice Spotlight Series explores the innovative coteaching model of student teaching newly employed by Colorado State University, offering perspectives from administrators, student teachers, and a cooperating teacher. This blog highlights some of the observations they share about the model.

An innovative coteaching model is reshaping student teaching for candidates at Colorado State University (CSU), placing two teacher candidates with one cooperating teacher for a semester-long collaborative learning experience.

Jody Drager, student teaching coordinator at CSU, said many participants were skeptical about the arrangement at first, and one classroom trio shared their concerns: Jessi Mader, a student teacher, worried that she wouldn’t have enough time teaching students, and her coteacher intern Kimberly Erickson wondered how they would fit two teacher work sample units into the shared semester. Even their cooperating teacher, Mike Viney of Blevins Middle School, was unsure about how the new model would work.

Fortunately, in the first year of implementation, the benefits of the model seem to have amply overcome their original assumptions and hesitations. For Viney, a 28-year veteran and host of many student teachers over the years, the change has redefined how he thinks of student teaching. He said having two student teachers makes him more keenly aware of the instruction he plans for his students, and he enjoys having double the amount of new ideas brought in by the interns. Observation, feedback, and reflection have become a valued part of the routine for all three teachers, as both Viney and the two student teachers have developed a culture of mutual constructive feedback.

Despite Mader’s fear of not having enough time to teach, the coteaching student teachers actually taught even more than any solo student teacher had in the past, Viney said. He noted that flexibility has been a key to this model’s success. Although the placement increased his workload and the trio had to invest considerable energy in working out the logistics of their collaboration, Viney willingly volunteered to host two more student teachers in the fall.

Blevins Middle School principal Dave Linehan praised the new model for facilitating increased collaboration and feedback among the three adults in the classroom. He also said it provides students with access to more personalized assistance—a benefit also noted by the coteachers, who can offer more flexibility in the types of activities and individualized support they give students.

Want to learn more? Hear from Drager, Linehan, Viney, and the student teachers in the Research-to-Practice Spotlight here.

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Christine DeGregory

George Mason University - AACTE intern