• Student teacher: the college student who is doing student teaching in the school
  • Cooperating teacher: the classroom teacher to whom the student teacher is assigned
  • College supervisor: the college representative directly responsible for the student teacher
  • Chair of Educational Studies: the Carleton College faculty member with administrative responsibility for organizing and coordinating the College’s student teaching program
  • Student Teaching Placement Officer: the Carleton College staff member who facilitates student teaching placements

General Information

Statement of Philosophy

Good teachers are ethical and responsible adults who view teaching as an intellectual pursuit, a vocational calling, and a unique social responsibility in our increasingly diverse society. Our program, uniquely situated in the context of an undergraduate liberal arts college, integrates the knowledge, skills, and dispositions of four different aspects of a prospective teacher’s education:

  1. a deep understanding of the candidate’s subject matter/major and an abiding appreciation for learning in the liberal arts tradition;
  2. foundational and methodological work in pedagogical knowledge as well as an understanding of educational studies as a liberal art;
  3. the critical beginning competencies required for teachers (Standards of Effective Practice for Teachers); and
  4. observational skill and judgment as well as pragmatic application of critical competencies developed in a variety of field settings.

In other words, our program considers teaching to be a liberal art which integrates a student’s academic major, coursework in educational studies, and finally a closely-monitored student teaching experience.

This model helps our students develop into reflective career teachers. Our program is designed to encourage a critical consciousness about the art and science of teaching as well as a critical consciousness with regard to the important role teachers play in ensuring educational equity for our nation’s children.

Qualifications of Student Teachers

Carleton students admitted to student teaching must:

  • have been accepted into the Teacher Education Program and have been in residence in that program at least two terms
  • have successfully participated in a variety of field experiences prior to student teaching
  • have maintained a minimum GPA of 2.5 in the respective teaching field and overall average of 2.25 (Carleton employs a four-point scale)
  • possess senior or graduate standing
  • have completed all prerequisites in the professional education sequence
  • have completed work in their teaching field
  • have satisfactory personal and academic recommendations from the Educational Studies Department and the respective major department
  • have successfully passed the Minnesota-mandated MTLE tests

Required professional education courses include:

  1. Any two of the following four (one from each pairing):
    • Introduction to Educational Studies (110)
    • Fixing Schools (250)
    • Multicultural Education (338)
    • Culturally Sustaining Pedagogy (262)
  2. Educational Psychology (234)
  3. Exceptional Learners (375 at St. Olaf)
  4. Teaching Reading (374 at St. Olaf)
  5. Special methods courses in the student’s specific subject area (345-365 at St. Olaf)
  6. Schooling and Communities (385)

Student Teaching Requirements

The Carleton student teaching program places strong emphasis on the flexibility of individual student teaching experiences. Our student teachers are instrumental in selecting a student teaching placement in which their beginning competencies as a teacher can grow and develop. While there is some variability in the kind of schools in which our students are placed—urban/suburban, middle/high school—each student placement must fulfill the following requirements:

  • Adequate opportunity to develop curriculum, reflect on teaching successes and challenges, and discuss learners’ progress and evaluation with both the cooperating teacher and the college supervisor
  • A teaching experience of sufficient length to allow creativity and variety in approach (at least 14 full weeks)
  • sufficient professional autonomy to develop plans that reflect the student teacher’s own personality, ability, and academic strengths
  • Regular supervision by both school and college personnel
  • Ample opportunity to observe other teachers, to become involved in guidance and counseling activities, and to participate in a variety of other curricular or extra-curricular programs

For these reasons, Carleton students are required to teach the equivalent of three classes per day. These classes should involve, when possible, no more than two different preparations and, if possible, differing ability and motivational levels. (This requirement is based on the traditional five-class teaching load in a six-period day. In schools with four-hour blocks, a two block assignment is considered a full load.) Each student teacher’s program for the rest of the day should be carefully planned by him or her with assistance from the cooperating teacher and the college supervisor. This flexibility should make it possible to devise an individualized program directed toward the needs and interests of the student teacher while reflecting the unique learning opportunities of any given setting.

In rare circumstances, individuals may finish 14 weeks of student teaching and not meet the criteria for successful completion of student teaching (that is, the school-based cooperating teacher/s and the supervising Carleton professors are not satisfied that the student teacher has made satisfactory progress and is ready to enter a secondary classroom). In that case, the student teacher, after consultation with educational studies faculty, may petition the Teacher Education Committee for an additional student teaching experience.


Student teachers are required to attend a weekly student teaching seminar throughout their student teaching experience. The seminars are conducted by the college supervisors and attended by the entire student teaching cohort. The seminars include special sessions on technology, the American Indian rule, accommodating diverse learners, teaching reading in the content areas, interview skills and other aspects of finding a teaching job, and other important topics. Seminars are generally held on Wednesday afternoons from 4-6 pm and are often held at student teaching placements sites. The student teaching seminar is an important source of support for student teachers.

Other aspects of the program are implicit in subsequent sections of this handbook dealing with responsibilities of student teachers, cooperating teachers, and college supervisors. Participants in the Carleton Student Teaching Program are asked to read these carefully.

Standards of Effective Practice

Student teachers are placed with master teachers of the very highest quality. We expect that students will serve their apprenticeships studiously by closely observing, questioning, and modeling these exemplary professionals. But our purpose is not to encourage an uncritical allegiance to the principles and practices of their cooperating teachers. Our aim is to enable students to demonstrate competence in the following Standards of Effective Practice for Teachers as outlined by the Minnesota Board of Teaching.

  1. Subject Matter. A teacher must understand the central concepts, tools of inquiry and structures of the discipline(s) taught and to create learning experiences that make these aspects of subject matter meaningful for students.
  2. Student Learning. A teacher must understand how children learn and develop and must provide learning opportunities that support a student’s intellectual, social and personal development.
  3. Diverse Learners. A teacher must understand how students differ in their approaches to learning and create instructional opportunities that are adapted to students with diverse backgrounds and exceptionalities.
  4. Instructional Strategies. A teacher must understand and use a variety of instructional strategies to encourage student development of critical thinking, problem solving, and performance skills.
  5. Learning Environment. A teacher must be able to use an understanding of individual and group motivation and behavior to create a learning environment that encourages positive social interaction, active engagement in learning, and self-motivation.
  6. Communication. A teacher must be able to use knowledge of effective verbal, nonverbal, and media communication techniques to foster active inquiry, collaboration, and supportive interaction in the classroom.
  7. Planning Instruction. A teacher must be able to plan and manage instruction based upon knowledge of subject matter, students, the community , and curriculum goals.
  8. Assessment. A teacher must understand and be able to use formal and informal assessment strategies to evaluate and ensure the continuous intellectual, social, and physical development of leaner.
  9. Reflection and Professional Development. A teacher must be a reflective practitioner who continually evaluates the effects of choices and actions on others, including students, parents, and other professionals in the learning community, and who actively seeks out opportunities for professional growth.
  10. Collaboration, Ethics, and Relationships. A teacher must be able to communicate and interact with parents or guardians, families, school colleagues, and the community to support student learning and well-being.

Student Teaching Assignments

Student teaching assignments are made by the chair of the Educational Studies Department. In all cases, student teaching is a full-time assignment for the student teacher. Any other employment, including paid coaching, is strongly discouraged.

Ordinarily, the student teacher reports to his/her school during teacher workshops prior to the beginning of school in the fall and remains there until the end of the term, or a period of 14 weeks. K-12 and 5-12 licensure may require longer placement and/or placement in two different schools.

The College provides a profile sheet for each student teacher for use by the principal and cooperating teachers. Information given includes: (a) courses completed in the major, related fields, and professional education; (b) the student’s major interests and hobbies; (c) the student’s travel experiences; (d) the student’s previous experiences in working with children; and (e) the name, address, and telephone number of the college supervisor.

Supervision by Educational Studies Faculty

College supervisors will observe student teachers about once every 7-10 days. Their visits should be viewed as opportunities to share successes, highlights, and any challenges that may have arisen during the student teacher’s experience. Supervisors will observe at least one class during their visits and will hold a post-observation conference. Should serious situations arise that require immediate attention, school personnel should feel free to call the college supervisor at any time (507-222-4012).

Performance Assessments

Weekly: If at all possible, cooperating teachers should give their student teachers written evaluations at least once a week. A written evaluation allows student teachers to assess their work as they plan upcoming classes. These evaluations are an important impetus to professional growth. Sample evaluation forms may be obtained from the Carleton supervisor or from our website, or they may be designed by the cooperating teacher or school.

Mid-term: Sometime toward the end of the fifth or beginning of the sixth week of student teaching, the cooperating teacher and the college supervisor will meet with the student teacher to discuss progress during the first half of student teaching. Goals for the second half of student teaching should also be set.

End of Term:

  1. Cooperating teachers complete the Student Teaching Final Evaluation form provided by mail to the cooperating teacher.
  2. Cooperating teachers complete a letter of recommendation on their school’s letterhead stationery (a sample letter will be provided by mail with other end-of-term materials).
  3. A final meeting takes place with the college supervisor, cooperating teacher, and student teacher sometime during the last week of student teaching. The student teacher will be responsible for arranging this meeting.

Compensation of Cooperating Teachers

Payments are made to cooperating teachers or to school administration, whichever conforms to district policy, after the evaluation materials have been completed and returned to the Educational Studies Department. The amount of compensation is generally $250 per student teacher unless school district policy requires a different amount.

Guidelines for Cooperating Teachers

Following is a list of suggestions for working with your student teacher. These are guidelines, not rules and regulations. We have every confidence in your professional judgment, knowledge, and skill. Feel free to alter any of the guidelines, so that it works best for you and your student teacher.

Communication and Support

Communicate with your student teacher as much as possible. Let him/her know your expectations and when they have and have not been met. Try to provide as much professional and emotional support as possible. Remember, s/he is taking on an impossible task: trying to fill your shoes. Throughout student teaching, no matter how confident the outward demeanor, s/he may be nagged by doubts about being a competent substitute for you.

Give your student teacher at least one thorough single-class evaluation per week. We suggest you review the evaluation together, so that s/he can ask questions about the criticisms and suggestions. We also recommend that you meet at the end of each week to give summary comments on the completed week and set goals for the upcoming week. It is important for him/her to be able to plan an upcoming week with your evaluation fresh in mind. We have included several evaluation forms in the appendix. We’d like you to use the final evaluation form as is, but during the term use whatever form you are most comfortable with — or one that is used in your school. The important thing is for your student teacher to have frequent written evaluations, detailing areas of strength, growth and weakness. Try to be as specific as possible, especially with your suggestions. All student teachers want to improve, but they often do not know precisely where or what steps they need to take to solve their problems. It is the student teacher’s responsibility to make sure we receive a copy of your evaluations. Be sure to retain a copy for your own records. We expect the student teacher to bring your evaluation to our weekly seminar, so we know how s/he is progressing.

Feel free to call the college supervisor at any time if problems arise or even if you simply want to chat. We can be reached at (507) 222-4012. Reverse the charges if it is a toll call for you. We will make every effort to visit once every seven teaching days to observe your student teacher. When we are there, we would like to meet with you as well, as your views are very important to our assessment of how the student teacher’s classes are going.

Workload, Pacing, and Expectations

We would like your student teacher to assume full responsibility for at least three of your classes over the course of the fourteen weeks. We also expect him/her to participate in any additional professional responsibilities you might have: study hall, cafeteria duty, homeroom. Your student teacher should assume full responsibility for planning these three classes, designing assignments and tests, and grading. We hope you will offer suggestions and provide guidance with these tasks, but we do not want the student teachers to rely exclusively on you for the development of lessons. An important part of becoming a professional is achieving ownership of one’s curricula.

Your student teacher should have his/her lessons for the upcoming week sketched out in a preliminary way by the prior Friday. If you can review those plans and point out potential pitfalls, s/he will have the weekend to amend and revise the plans. Twenty-four hours before any class, your student teacher should be able to show you the planned lesson in detail, complete with any handouts. Again, it would be helpful for you to check these plans for trouble spots and fine-tuning.

Your student teacher should assume the third class during the fifth week of his/her student teaching. Work loads vary greatly, however, so we will rely on your judgment as to when it is appropriate for him/her to pick up additional classes. Problems occur when the pacing issue is handled at one extreme or the other: overwhelming the student teacher with too much work too soon, or overprotecting the student teacher by not giving him/her enough responsibility. A gradual delegation of classes and responsibilities is usually the best approach. Please consult with us if you are not sure how to proceed.

Before your student teacher assumes full responsibility for three classes, s/he should get to know as much about your school, students, and department as possible. We suggest any and all of the following activities:

  • “shadowing” a student for an entire day
  • observing as many teachers as possible in your department (and other departments, if it can be arranged)
  • meeting your principal and members of your guidance staff
  • reviewing useful materials in your library and/or media center
  • having a “mock” job interview with some member of your teaching or administrative staff
  • making a phone call, after seeking your counsel, to the parents of a student experiencing some difficulties

Whatever help you could provide in setting up meetings or making introductions would be greatly appreciated.

End-of-Term Responsibilities

We will send you a packet at the end of the term containing all the necessary “wrap up” forms. Through your student teacher, we will arrange to meet with you toward the end of his/her last week, so that we can collect the paperwork from you, or you may mail it to us in the self-addressed stamped envelope provided. We ask you to type a letter of recommendation for your student teacher on your school’s letterhead stationery; a sample is included in the wrap-up materials sent to you at the end of the term. Complete the Student Teaching Final Evaluation form and recommend a grade.

Since student teaching is officially a course offered in the Educational Studies Department, we reserve the right to raise or lower your suggested grade. Be assured, however, that we will take your recommendation very seriously, since you are the professional who will have the most thorough knowledge of the student teacher’s work. We strive to continually improve our licensure program and would appreciate any suggestions you have—either at the end of the term or at any point along the way. A form for evaluating the program and making suggestions is included in the wrap-up packet.

Helpful Suggestions: Comments by Recent Student Teachers

The following list of comments by student teachers describes some of the most helpful qualities, attitudes, and activities of their cooperating teachers. We have found these comments to be beneficial both to students entering the student teaching experience and to cooperating teachers as they as they work with and provide guidance to student teachers.

  • Discussed her philosophy of education with me and gave specific examples of its application in classroom situations.
  • Attitude toward teaching was an inspiration to me as a student teacher.
  • Gave me an understanding of outside professional activities; tried to build a professional attitude.
  • Treated us like teachers instead of students.
  • Guided me but did not dictate.
  • Help and criticism were given immediately after a lesson while the situation was fresh. Jotted down helpful hints while we were teaching, so that we had them in written form.
  • Ate lunch with me daily, thus providing an opportunity for informal talks.
  • Reviewed my lesson plans often and added suggestions to the plans.
  • Gave me freedom in the classroom to express my own ideas and those I’d acquired and to try out different techniques.
  • Explained the routine of the school as well as of her classroom.
  • Gave suggestions which helped in lesson planning. Gave references for instructional material.

Guidelines for Student Teachers

Following are some guidelines to help you during your student teaching. These are not hard and fast rules. Professionals, in our view, seek the best advice, deliberate, then make decisions based on their own best judgments. We expect you to “think professionally” as you make judgments about how these guidelines apply to your specific teaching assignment. The best single guideline we have is: Talk to your cooperating teacher and us about conflicts and problems as they come up, or even better, as you anticipate them. It is often easier to head off difficulties than it is to handle them once they arise.


Student teaching is a full-time, full-day commitment for a minimum of 14 weeks. You should consider student teaching to be your sole job. Any other employment, including paid coaching jobs, is strongly discouraged. Please discuss any questions you have about this policy with the chair of the Educational Studies Department.

Take care of the little things. Don’t be late in the morning. Be alert and ready to work. Dress professionally. Your students will want to chip away at your adult role. Professional attire is more than just looking nice. It is your signal to your students that you are not one of them; you are their teacher. Don’t leave early in the afternoons; when your cooperating teacher has a professional obligation, you have a professional obligation. If you are sick or have an emergency, notify your cooperating teacher as soon as possible. Make sure you have his/her home and school phone number at your home. If you are going to miss school, call us as well (507-222-4012).

Working with Your Cooperating Teacher

Your cooperating teacher will serve you in many ways this term: as mentor, confidante, colleague, counselor, advisor, and friend. You will work so closely together that it will be easy to forget how much s/he is doing for you. Try to remember that s/he is also your host. You are a guest in his/her classroom and school. Be careful not to jeopardize his/her rapport with students, faculty or administration. When you leave at the end of the term, you do not want him/her to have to “pick up the pieces.”

Your cooperating teacher will also help us evaluate your work this term. We have asked him/her to give you written evaluations at least once a week and to suggest a grade for you at the end of the term. S/he will write a letter of recommendation for you at the end of the term for your placement file. This is often the single most important piece of paper in your placement file as you look for your first job.

We are not suggesting that you obsequiously follow his/her every suggestion. We are suggesting that it is important that your cooperating teacher be impressed with your attentiveness and growth in a number of areas: work ethic, professional judgment, commitment to the craft of teaching, love of subject matter, and compassion for students. The key words are attentiveness and growth — attentiveness to your strengths and weaknesses, growth in taking advantage of your strengths and addressing your weaknesses.

Be ready each Friday to show your cooperating teacher your preliminary lesson plans for the upcoming week. Seek his/her advice. Ask him/her to troubleshoot for you. You will have a sense of which parts of your lessons will work; ask him/her to guess where your plans might fall apart. Try to cultivate him/her as a friendly critic. Use the weekends to develop your plans. Have your plans and any handouts you intend to use ready for your cooperating teacher twenty-four hours before each class. S/he might suggest some fine tuning. S/he needs to know exactly where those plans and handouts are if you have to call in sick.

Working with Your College Supervisors

Your college supervisors want to be as helpful as possible during your student teaching. Student teaching is an extension of the other courses you have taken in education. There are no “dumb” questions during student teaching. Let us know what you need: ideas, strategies, handouts, books, tissues — anything. Our job is to insure that you have whatever you need to succeed. First and foremost, we are your advocates. Call us at the office or at home.

An important part of the student teaching experience is the weekly seminar with your college supervisors and the other Carleton student teachers. Though the format of the seminar will vary from week to week, it has two major purposes. The first is to give you an opportunity to talk to other student teachers about the successes and frustrations you are experiencing. The second is to allow your college supervisors the opportunity to define common issues and to suggest specific solutions to problems.

We will establish a weekly schedule at our first meeting. The seminar is a professional obligation; we won’t start without you unless we know you have a conflict or have been delayed. Your college supervisor will make every effort to observe you every seven teaching days. Try to relax. We are there to help, not to intimidate. We will share our observations with you so you can become a more self-critical and autonomous teacher. It is nearly impossible, especially at the outset, to both teach and to “watch” yourself teach. We are there so that you can learn different ways of watching yourself teach. Our role is to help you see your particular gifts and shortcomings as a teacher. We will not measure you against some preordained standard of student teaching excellence. Our goal and joy is to be able to foster your professional growth.