What Does My Cooperating Teacher Need to Do?
Whether your cooperating teacher has engaged in service-learning or not, they are a valuable resource for you as you plan and implement your service project.
Good service-learning must meet the authentic needs of the community. Most student teachers and other pre-service teachers are assigned to schools in neighborhoods and communities where they do not reside. In this case, to whom will you turn to learn about your school community and its needs? Your cooperating teacher is your first source for this sort of information.
Likewise, exemplary service-learning is integrated into and enhances the academic curriculum of the learners. To whom will you go to find out about the curriculum and outcomes toward which your students are working? Again, your first and best source of information is your cooperating teacher.
Of course, if your cooperating teacher already engages in service-based learning, you should work with him or her to adapt and integrate their ideas with yours. Perhaps you will be able to replicate or extend an existing project which your cooperating teacher has already started. Ask to see service-based lesson and unit plans he or she has developed. Ask for their advice about what works best in this community.
Even if your cooperating teacher does not yet use service-learning, per se, many schools work in similar and related areas such as internships, school-to-work programs, etc. Ask your cooperting teacher to introduce you to the community partners with whom this school works. Ask your cooperting teacher if this school has a service-learning or volunteer coordinator on staff. Find out whether other teachers in this building engage in service-learning or similar activities.
In short, your cooperting teacher's
involvement in your service-learning project is nearly identical to
their involvement with any other aspect of your student teaching
experience. They are there to guide, coach, advice, and
facilitate--work with them so that your service-based activities will
be as effective as possible.