Cooperating Teachers


Districts mandate that all cooperating teachers, whether hosting preservice teachers in their student teaching or practicum semesters, be approved in advance of a placement by the designated school administrator. Once approval has been obtained, your name will become available to the appropriate program coordinators in the UW–Madison School of Education. If a program coordinator requests that you be solicited to work with a preservice teacher from their program, you will receive an email solicitation. Please note that not all teachers who indicate their willingness to work with a preservice teacher from one of our programs will be invited to be a cooperating teacher during a given semester due to the variables within each program. If you are interested in being added to the cooperating teacher list, please contact Nancy Coulter at

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Field Experience Settings

Under Wisconsin State regulations, all teacher education students are required to complete at least one pre-student teaching practicum and at least one full semester of student teaching. Most programs at UW–Madison require students to complete additional field experiences.


The pre-student teaching practicum gives students first-hand knowledge of the classroom environment and the teacher’s role. For many students, the practicum is the initial encounter with the real world of teaching. Practicum students do not assume the degree of classroom responsibility they do during student teaching. Under the supervision of an experienced teacher, practicum students observe classroom activities, assist the teacher with day-to-day classroom management tasks, interact one-to-one with students, and instruct small groups. In some programs practicum students will lead activities and assume responsibility for whole class instruction. The cooperating teacher and university supervisor use the practicum to assess the student’s readiness for the student teaching experience. For this reason, active student engagement in the practicum experience is necessary and expected.


Student teaching, the culminating field experience, is a full-time, school district-semester assignment that places a university student under the guidance of an experienced, qualified cooperating teacher. Most semesters with a student teacher will follow a similar progression — through periods of orientation, participation and collaboration, independence, and closure. The process of gradually releasing responsibility for the classroom to a student teacher is highly supported by the cooperating teacher and university supervisor. It is also uniquely tailored to each student teacher’s strengths and areas of growth.

Field Experience Policies

The most recent update of the UW–Madison School of Education Teacher Education Field Experience Policies is provided below.

Key Qualities & Practices of Cooperating Teachers

Key qualities and practices of what we believe makes an effective cooperating teacher

I.  MODELING – Qualities & Practices.

Cooperating teachers model these qualities and practices for their preservice teachers:

  1. Commitment to Teaching: Communicates joy and satisfaction in teaching.  Shows care and respect for students.  Is realistic about the complexity and challenges of teaching, celebrates successes.  Models and advocates personal and professional balance.
  2. Teaching as a Learning Profession: Proactively seeks professional development opportunities to improve instruction and gain new knowledge and perspectives.  Is open to learning new theories and practices; supports preservice teacher in trying different approaches.
  3. Quality Instruction and Teaming: Commands strong knowledge of subject matter and instructional practice as a culturally and linguistically responsive educator.  Uses data to assess student learning and differentiate instruction.  Collaborates with colleagues to continuously reflect on, plan, and improve instruction.
  4. Reflection and Inquiry: Models how to reflect, critically examine, and learn from one’s own practice.  Seeks support, feedback, and mentors to improve.
  5. Mission Alignment: Models how to identify commonalities and negotiate differences between teaching practices, the district’s strategic framework, and UW-Madison’s teacher preparation program vision while maintaining space for professional agency.
  6. Professionalism: Demonstrates professional integrity and regard.  Shows how to respectfully and productively interact with students, families, and educational colleagues.  Commands a solid understanding of both school and community policies and culture.
  7. Relationships and Advocacy: Creates positive, trusting relationships that foster safe and thriving cultures and climates in and outside of the classroom.
    1. Holds an asset-based view of students and families.
    2. Facilitates a positive classroom community that promotes student voice and agency.
    3. Addresses and learns from missteps, challenges, and conflict.
    4. Demonstrates ways to engage families as full partners in their children’s education.
    5. Builds positive connections with the broader school and neighborhood community.
  8. Commitment to Inclusion, Equity, and Diversity: Believes in the brilliance, creativity, dignity, capability and bright futures of all children and youth, with particular attention to students of color, students with disabilities, and bilingual learners.
    1. Maintains high expectations for all students as demonstrated by word and action.
    2. Demonstrates a clear understanding of how teacher and student identity (including race, ethnicity, culture, language, socioeconomic group, gender, sexual orientation, abilities, religion, and life experiences) informs thinking, actions, and experiences in and out of school.
    3. Evidence of successful inclusion of students with disabilities.
    4. Puts culturally and linguistically responsive, anti-racist teaching at the center of practice. Is actively engaged in learning about and working to mitigate systems and beliefs that have led to inequitable outcomes for students of color and those with other intersectional identities.

II.  COACHING – Qualities & Practices

Cooperating teachers serve as mentor and coach to their preservice teachers in these ways:

  1. Is Willing: Shows Interest in mentoring and supporting preservice teachers, sharing a classroom, and teaming around children’s learning.
  2. Makes Time: Makes time to plan, observe, co-teach, process together in a consistent yet flexible manner.
  3. Includes: Meaningfully incorporates preservice teacher into the classroom environment as well as other school settings (parent meetings, IEPs, classroom, planning, team meetings, etc.) to harness all opportunities towards a positive, rich field experience.
  4. Communicates: Is able to critically reflect on and communicate about their own and the preservice teacher’s practice with the preservice teacher and others (school leaders, university supervisors, program coordinators and faculty).  Ability to help preservice teacher mediate expectations and requirements between program and classroom.
  5. Encourages: Provides an intentional safe space for preservice teacher to set goals and take risks, while balancing autonomy, support, and encouragement.
  6. Supports Professional Identity Development: Engages preservice teacher’s voice and ideas in a respectful manner that supports them in developing their professional identity and teacher presence.
  7. Reflects and Celebrates: Engages preservice teachers in honest analysis of their assumptions, strengths and goals, providing ample opportunity to discuss and celebrate their questions, ideas, challenges, problem solving, growth, and successes.

DPI Required Training

New cooperating teachers must attend a seminar or workshop, or complete a formal course in supervision of student teachers. Teachers who participated as cooperating teachers prior to July 1, 1977 are recorded as having met the requirement. Teachers’ DPI qualification status is monitored and recorded officially in the Teacher Education Center.

The Teacher Education Center provides the following to teachers who wish to become qualified as cooperating teachers:

  • Online workshop on the supervision of student teachers. This is offered on a regular basis to teachers within the UW–Madison service area (within 50 miles of campus) by staff from ​the Teacher Education Center at no cost to participants. Please contact Nancy Coulter, field experience coordinator, ​for more information.
  • Seminars or face-to-face workshops conducted by teacher education faculty and staff. An example of one such seminar is C&I 860: Supervision in Teacher Education, offered in fall 2019.
  • Individual meetings, or “conferences,” for cooperating teachers conducted by a teacher education faculty member. The conference is considered temporary qualification until a teacher can enroll in and complete a workshop, seminar, or course.

Cooperating Teacher Benefits


Checks will be processed in January for fall semester placements; June for the spring semester placements. Social security benefits associated with the payments are paid by the university. No payment will be made for persons identified as exempt or for on-campus or agency placements. Payments are ​mailed to the address listed on the cooperating teacher’s W9 or to an established fund as requested by the school district. Questions or concerns regarding cooperating personnel payments should be referred to the Teacher Education Center.


All cooperating teachers who receive payments and all school principals who supervise these cooperating personnel may receive a university faculty/staff identification card. The card provides university facility use privileges on a limited basis, including access to UW recreation facilities, libraries, and unions. Athletic facility fees are charged at all sites. Contact each facility directly for detailed information on access and use.

Staff ID card authorizations are in effect for one year past the paid semester (three semesters).

Complete the online Faculty/Staff Photo ID card application and follow the directions on the form. Individuals with a valid ID card need do nothing. Questions about ID authorization should be referred to Nancy Coulter.


The faculty/staff ID card permits cooperating personnel to establish an email account at the university. After you have picked up your ID card, you may activate your Net ID online.

Rockwell Awards for Cooperating Teachers

Through the generosity of Roland and Ruth Rockwell, UW–Madison is pleased to offer four $1,000 awards to outstanding cooperating teachers. The Rockwell Awards recognize excellent teachers who have chosen to pass on their expertise by providing professional experiences for UW–Madison student teachers.

The award recipients will be honored at the School of Education’s American Education Week celebration. More event details and registration will be sent out in early October.

Cooperating teachers may be nominated by their administrators, peers, university faculty, and supervisors or former student teachers. Award recipients will have had at least five (5) UW–Madison student teachers and will have demonstrated an ability to:

  • Establish an inclusive environment that instills a desire for all students to learn, bring enthusiasm into the classroom, and put into practice quality and successful teaching techniques, methods, and goals.
  • Mentor student teachers effectively by modeling and transmitting skills, professional attitudes, and a love of the profession to the next generation of teachers.
  • Provide effective guidance, feedback, and opportunities for student teachers to reflect on their teaching experience, encouraging them to try new ideas and develop new curriculum.

IMPORTANT: The online application requires that items in the nomination packet be completed and documents uploaded in a single sitting. Contact Nancy Coulter by phone at 262-3773 or by email to learn whether your potential candidate has a file already established, to determine the candidate’s number of student teachers and/or program coordinator, or other relevant information.