How do cooperating teachers experience the MATESOL practicum course?
What are cooperating teachers' roles and responsibilities during the MATESOL practicum course?
In the following section we discuss the context of the study, provide detailed descriptions of the format of the MATESOL teaching practicum, and introduce the focal cooperating teacher informants who participated in a series of research interviews.
The study took place in a MATESOL program housed in a department of applied linguistics and ESL in a large research university in the southeast region of the US.
The first individual-interview cooperating teacher, Rachel, had previously earned a MATESOL degree from the same department in which the study took place.
As a required graduate course leading to the MATESOL degree, practicum students and the practicum course instructor meet for two and a half hours weekly in the practicum seminar.
One of the clearest findings from the data is that cooperating teachers would like to be more fully informed about the MATESOL program's and practicum course instructors' expectations for the role of a cooperating teacher.
Danielle believes that it is important to inform and remind practicum students that they need to grow beyond merely perceiving themselves as MATESOL students.
In the MATESOL program that we studied, the practicum experience culminates with the implementation of one or two 20-25-minute practice-teaching opportunities in the cooperating teacher's class.
In MATESOL programs, the currents sometimes flow parallel with limited overlap opportunity, or they sometimes diverge widely, although an increasing number of programs seem successful in shaping the landscape of teacher development activity to allow the currents to flow in confluence (Gebhard, 1998).
In MATESOL programs such as that described here, the practicum is the primary opportunity for graduate student learners-of-teaching to participate in sustained, substantive conversations with more experienced classroom teachers.
Our impression is that in MATESOL programs such as the one in this study, practicum course instructors have barely begun to scratch the surface of what cooperating teachers' contributions to the professional development of practicum student might one day become.