It is becoming increasingly important for teachers to collaborate. Teacher community is found to be a fruitful notion when thinking about improving collaboration. Teachers can be prepared for working in such communities during teacher education. We examined how the practice of collaboration within different types of groups in teacher education can be optimised, aiming at an improvement in the shared domain, group identity and shared interactional repertoire of these groups. We included four types of groups: subject matter groups, research groups, mentor groups and reflection groups. Focus groups with teacher educators, student teachers and community experts were conducted to gather ideas for the improvement of the institutional design for community development. Combining these ideas with the research literature, we formulated a list of design principles for each of the types of groups. In conversations with teacher educators, the viability of these principles was reviewed, resulting in particular sets of design principles for each group. These sets consist of principles which are already used within the groups, as well as principles that are completely new to the groups. The design arrangement for the mentor group consists of the largest number of design principles, while the smallest number of principles are applicable to the research group. The procedure used in this study can serve as an example of how to create a design aimed at the development of student teacher groups as social and collaborative learning environments. © 2012 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.