Cooperating Teachers

Cooperating teacher and student teacher smiling

As a cooperating teacher, you welcome a future teacher into your classroom to help them gain experience. You also benefit from opportunities to improve your own teaching. The following information and resources will help you have a positive experience as a cooperating teacher.

Discuss the following topics with your teacher candidate to ensure a beneficial classroom experience:

  • Using mutual respect and rapport as the foundation for managing a classroom.
  • Designing lessons that engage children in the learning process.
  • Planning lessons that scaffold and build on prior knowledge of students.
  • Getting to know the students in the classroom, their personal interests, cultural assets and the communities in which they live.
  • Differentiating lessons for students with varied learning needs (students with IEPs, 504 plans, slow learners, ELL students, struggling readers, gifted students).
  • Connecting personal, cultural and community assets to teaching and learning.
  • Teaching content effectively.
  • Assessing the academic language used in the discipline and how to develop supports for students with varying language needs, as well as assessing their language use.
  • Asking good questions aligned with objectives that get students thinking.
  • Writing good assessments aligned with learning objectives and standards.
  • Looking at quantitative and qualitative assessment data for the whole class to determine what students are doing well and what they still need to work on.
  • Looking at student work samples to fine tune the assessment analysis.
  • Providing rich feedback to students on an assessment.
  • Using assessment data to define next steps of instruction.
  • Ensuring students in the classroom understand the feedback provided and providing opportunities for students to use the feedback to advance their learning.
  • Being a reflective practitioner/reflecting on teaching and learning in the classroom.

In the professional development school (PDS) model, co-teaching involves collaborating with your teacher candidate to help your students learn and grow. You'll share the planning, organization, delivery and assessment of instruction with your teacher candidate. You'll also reflect on your experiences together to improve both your instruction and your relationship.

In addition, you'll have access to professional development opportunities throughout the co-teaching experience, including several workshops.

To recognize your contribution as a cooperating teacher, NIU will award instructional waivers to the district in which you're employed. These waivers can be applied to the cost of tuition at NIU. They cannot be used for cost recovery, international programs or any fees, which are the responsibility of the student.

A one-hour instructional waiver is worth $357, the cost of the instructional portion of one graduate credit hour.

Waiver Distribution

NIU distributes waivers to districts according to established agreements. The number of waiver hours awarded varies depending on the type and/or length of the course(s) for which they are earned. NIU sends waivers to districts the week of Nov. 15 for the spring semester and April 15 for the fall semester.

Each district has its own policy for distributing waivers to employees. Many districts give the waivers to the cooperating teachers who worked with teacher candidates. Waivers may also be used by teacher aides and substitute teachers. Please ask your district office about their waiver policies.

Using Waivers

If you would like to apply a waiver to the cost of a class at NIU, you should first enroll in that class. You can submit the waiver after enrolling. The deadline for submitting the waiver is the last day of the semester in which you took the course.

You should send the completed waiver form to your district. The district will send the form to the NIU Office of Educator Licensure and Preparation by email ( or fax (815-753-1848).

The Office of Educator Licensure and Preparation will process the form in cooperation with the Office of the Bursar to reconcile your account. Waivers are processed daily but may take up to 5-10 business days to post. Please note that NIU closes for approximately two weeks in late December and early January.

To see if the waiver has been entered, log in to your student account in MyNIU.

Late Fees and Refunds

If you have an unpaid balance on your account on the payment due date, you'll be charged a late fee. To avoid late fees, make sure your waiver has been entered and that you have paid all fees and related charges before the due date.

NIU will not issue refunds for unused portions of waivers.

Contact Us

Office of Educator Licensure and Preparation
Williston Hall 320