What Can We Learn from Studying the Coaching Interactions between Cooperating Teachers and Preservice Teachers? A Literature Review

November, 2015

Source: Teaching and Teacher Education 52 (2015) 99-112
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This review examined what the research has revealed about the coaching interactions between cooperating teachers and preservice teachers around practice.

The authors limited the literature search to studies that are: (1) empirical )employing quantitative, qualitative or mixed methods research methods); (2) published in scholarly, peer-reviewed journals; (3) focused on cooperating teachers working with preservice teachers for initial certification; (4) focused on the coaching interactions between the cooperating teacher and preservice teachers around practice; (5) published in English; and (6) published since 1990 (the publication date of the first Handbook of Research in Teacher Education).

The authors identified 46 studies as meeting the criteria for inclusion.

The analysis yielded fourteen findings with varying levels of support. The authors have grouped these findings for presentation purposes around four areas:

The first area includes current practices and conditions. These findings describe the conditions that exist around the work of cooperating teachers in support of preservice teachers.
The findings reveal that cooperating teachers are mostly unprepared for the coaching role they take on. Furthermore, it was found that untrained cooperating teachers tend to rely on evaluative feedback.
The authors also found that debriefing conferences between cooperating teachers and preservice teachers focused more on planning or instructional actions of the preservice teachers than on reflective coaching conversations.
Finally, cooperating teachers used more speaking time and initiated more topics than their preservice teachers during conferences.

The second area includes innovations in practice. The findings in this area look at innovations in practice around the work of cooperating teachers.
These findings reveal that the types of coaching engaged in by cooperating teachers is not fixed; training in specific models of coaching can lead to changes in a cooperating teacher's coaching practices.
Furthermore, the authors found that bringing inservice teachers together to study coaching practices had positive results on their professional development.Finally, the authors argue that research comparing the influence of cooperating teachers and university supervisors has shown mixed results with a general finding of both as influential e but not always.

The third area discusses relationships and tensions. These findings relate to relationships and the tensions that can surface in the context of the work of the cooperating teacher.
The authors found that the relationship between cooperating teacher and preservice teacher is an important consideration within a mentoring model.
They also found that cooperating teachers consider their primary purpose as support to their preservice teachers. Those cooperating teachers who challenge their preservice teachers see it as a secondary objective.
Finally, they found that cooperating teachers feel tension between their responsibilities as a teacher to their students and as a mentor to their preservice teacher.
The results also reveal that preservice teachers express frustration when they don't receive direct feedback.

The last area includes local contexts and teaching practices. The findings in this final area relate to the cooperating teachers' own practices and working contexts.
The first finding reveal that cooperating teachers' beliefs and patterns of interaction are influenced by their local and national context.
The second finding shows that cooperating teachers' coaching reflects their teaching practices with students in their own classrooms.
The last finding demonstrates that coaching experiences can lead to reexamination of cooperating teachers' own practices and beliefs.

The authors argue that the findings point to the need for stronger theoretical framing of the work of cooperating teachers in supporting teacher development and to the need for teacher education as a whole to be more proactive and responsible in the preparation of cooperating teachers.

Updated: Aug. 15, 2018