College of Education and Professional Studies

Partnerships with UCO

Quality clinical experiences in P12 schools influence education degree and certification completions, as well as retention in the profession. UCO is committed to collaborating with schools to ensure high quality placements for every teacher candidate. We define these placements through several conditions: 

  1. mentors (co-teachers) must be certified in the area in which they teach,
  2. they must have at least 3 years of successful teaching experience,
  3. they must demonstrate positive dispositions and
  4. they must not only be strong teachers but also strong mentors as demonstrated by their ability to work productively and collaboratively with colleagues.

Strong mentors dedicate time to making their classroom management strategies, instructional approaches (including planning, delivery and assessment) and other professional decisions explicit. These mentors must also provide accurate and ongoing feedback aimed at advancing the candidates’ skill sets. In an effort to share similar expectations regarding teacher candidates’ roles, responsibilities and training experiences, UCO has adopted a set of co-teaching strategies from St. Cloud University (MN) to guide clinical experiences. Learn more about co-teaching.

Schools may partner with UCO on three levels.  Descriptions of the different levels of clinical experience follow.  The full MOU can be downloaded here

Level I—Initial Clinical Experience


The purpose of the first clinical experience is to provide teacher candidates the opportunity to identify the knowledge, skills and dispositions involved in helping all students learn. This clinical experience is intended to help teacher candidates make informed decisions concerning the pursuit of a career in public education. 

Demand on Resources

The Level I clinical experience is the least intrusive as teacher candidates primarily complete targeted observations and interact with students in ways that assist the mentor (co-teacher). Appropriate co-teaching strategies include, but do not have to be limited to, the following:  One Teach, One Observe & One Teach, One Assist.

Clinical Hours Required


Expectations of School

In order to be a Level 1 partner school, Teacher Candidates should be given the opportunity to:

  • experience actual classroom settings in their discipline;
  • be placed with a mentor teacher (co-teacher) who has at least 3 years of teaching experience;
  • be placed with a willing mentor teacher (co-teacher) who is an effective classroom manager and instructor;
  • understand school policies and expectations such as working hours, records and reports, lesson planning and other responsibilities;
  • be knowledgeable about 2-3 of the 7 Co-Teaching strategies and use those strategies when appropriate;
  • observe student and teacher behaviors in a targeted manner (e.g., identifying questioning techniques used by the teacher, monitoring student engagement/responses during instruction, etc.);
  • observe effective classroom management;
  • interact with students to practice minimally intrusive classroom management strategies; and
  • assist the mentor teacher with instructional tasks.

Level II—Clinical Rounds


The purpose of the Clinical Rounds is to provide teacher candidates targeted practice using multiple research-based approaches in diverse educational settings.  Much like rotations are used in medical residencies, these rounds are intended to assist candidates in being reflective, responsive and resourceful in meeting learners’ instructional needs.  The strands of targeted practice vary depending on the education program.

Demand on Resources

The Level II clinical experience requires that teacher candidates engage more prominently in classrooms than during Level I.

Through guidance from and supervision of a mentor teacher (co-teacher), the candidates will implement targeted strategies designed to advance learners’ knowledge, strategies and abilities in the content area. During each of the four rounds the candidate may spend minimal (yet necessary) time participating at the One Teach, One Observe co-teaching level.  The emphasis during the rotations should be on the following co-teaching strategies:  One Teach, One Assist; Station Teaching; Parallel Teaching; Supplemental Teaching; or Alternative (Differentiated) Teaching.

Clinical Hours

3 sites with 9 hours spent at each site.  3x9 = 27 hours

Expectations of School

In addition to the expectations listed for the Level I school partnership, the Level II partner should provide teacher candidates the opportunity to:

  • to be placed, possibly several at a time, with a mentor teacher (co-teacher) who demonstrates exceptional instructional strategies regarding at least one of targeted areas for the rounds(e.g., developing reading strategies across content areas, integrating arts and cross-curricular content, differentiating learning activities and assignments, facilitating learning through technology, etc.);
  • observe expertise in dedicated targeted areas;
  • observe effective classroom management; assist the mentor teacher with instructional tasks.
  • understand and implement a variety of the 7 Co-Teaching strategies when appropriate and possible; and
  • interact with students in small groups to practice classroom management and targeted instructional strategies

Level III—Pre-Internship and Student Teaching

To participate as a Level III Partner School requires agreement to participate as either a Level I or II.


The purpose of student teaching is for teacher candidates to demonstrate and advance their knowledge, skills and dispositions related to teaching and learning in a P12 setting. This internship requires student teachers to be reflective, responsive and resourceful—using concepts and approaches developed during teacher preparation—when planning, designing and facilitating instruction and while assessing and reassessing student learning.  Student teaching provides experiences that assist teacher candidates in becoming skillful, creative and effective teachers.  The purpose of the Pre-Internship clinical experience (to be completed the spring prior to fall student teaching) is to provide an avenue for teacher candidates and mentor teachers (co-teachers) to develop a healthy rapport and working relationship and for the teacher candidate to acclimate to the school so that all professional responsibilities can be fulfilled beginning the first day of student teaching. 

Demand on Resources

The Level III clinical experience requires that student teachers complete their internship with a mentor teacher (co-teacher) who will work collaboratively and utilize some, if not all, of the 7 Co-Teaching strategies adopted by UCO. The co-teacher should need only to relinquish the class to the student teacher fully during his/her Unit of Instruction and should otherwise be engaged to some degree in sharing the instruction. The co-teacher must be willing to discuss, plan, assess and reflect upon the teaching and learning in close collaboration with the student teacher.  Research has demonstrated powerful benefits for students (including learning gains) and teacher colleagues when the co-teaching strategies in UCO’s adopted model have been employed.

Clinical Hours Required

Spring semester prior to Student Teaching—17 hours with the designated mentor teacher (co-teacher). Fall semester—Professional development days prior to the start of school and from the first day of school until the end of the 16-week internship* (please see Early Release Agreement).

Expectations of School

In addition to the expectations for schools listed on Levels I and II, in order for a school to be a Level III partnership site, the school site should provide teacher candidates the opportunity to:

  • complete Level I and/or Level II clinical experiences at the school site or in district;
  • be placed with a “UCO trained” mentor who has completed Co-Teaching training through UCO, whether on campus or online; 
  • be placed only with a master teacher and a willing mentor who works collaboratively with the student teacher and the university as determined by the school administrator and university personnel;
  • be placed only with a co-teacher who has a history of providing frequent performance feedback to student teachers, including completing survey assessments needed by the university for program data and accreditation;
  • understand and implement all 7 of the Co-Teaching strategies, including providing the co-teacher and student teacher time for co-planning;
  • to meet with UCO faculty and university supervisors who must document student teaching performance ; and
  • lead a Unit of Instruction during a period of solo teaching.

Early Release Agreement

With the teacher shortage in Oklahoma we are finding many schools are requesting to hire our student teachers for long-term sub positions and/or full time faculty positions.  In an effort to assist the student teacher and our partner schools, the University of Central Oklahoma is willing to release soon-to-be graduates after their twelfth week of unpaid student teaching as long as the following protocol is followed:

  • The state requires that all teacher candidates student teach unpaid for a minimum of 12 weeks.
  • The hiring school must hire the teacher candidate for a long term substitute position and/or full time faculty position in their field of certification.
  • The school must provide a supportive mentor teacher and administrator to our candidate.
  • Our University supervisor will still complete any remaining student teacher visits.
  • The school where the candidate teacher was teaching must be informed of the early release.
  • The candidate teacher must be “graduation ready” regarding coursework, portfolio artifacts, dispositions and the state exam (OSAT).
  • The University must receive a recommendation from the candidate teacher’s supervisor for early release.
  • The candidate teacher will not officially be released until the University gives him/her final permission.  (This process can take a couple of weeks.)
  • The candidate teacher must continue to adhere to the UCO absence policy.
  • The candidate teacher must attend required days here at UCO.

A teacher candidate hired through this protocol is paid by the hiring district as a substitute until after graduation and certification is received.  At that time, the candidate is officially hired as a full-time faculty member.  However, the teacher candidate is placed in his/her full-time teaching role and assumes all responsibilities immediately upon employment.  The early release allows the hiring school to provide a trained teacher in the classroom in hopes of providing stability and a strong learning environment for P12 learners sooner rather than later.

For more information on school partnerships, please contact the Coordinator of School Partnerships:

Ms. Nina Coerver
Coordinator of School Partnerships
Teacher Education Services
University of Central Oklahoma
100 N. University Drive, Box 106
Edmond, OK 73034-5209
Phone: 405.974.5144
Fax: 405.974.3878