The Acorn

A Newsletter for CSB/SJU Cooperating Teachers

Volume 4, no. 1--Friday, August 27, 2021

Growing, Nurturing, and Supporting CSB/SJU Student Teachers

The Acorn is a newsletter for the cooperating teachers working with student teachers from the College of St. Benedict/St. John's University. This publication is intended to help our cooperating teachers understand their roles and responsibilities as well as provide them with current research and best practice in working with student teachers. Additional information helpful to mentorship, pedagogy, and current issues in education is often included.

A Message from the Director of Student Teaching

Thank you to all of our cooperating teachers for welcoming teacher candidates from our program into your classrooms and schools this year. We are grateful for you and honor the work you have done and will do with all of our students. Your involvement in shaping future educators is work we deeply value and appreciate.

We ground our work as teacher educators in our model of Teacher as Reflective Decision Maker and with the institutional values and beliefs embedded in Benedictine traditions. All of these elements center on an individual’s responsibility to thoughtful practice and community. As a mentor teacher, you are bringing someone new into your community—classroom, school, and beyond—to engage in building practices that will positively impact teaching and learning. Darling-Hammond and McLaughlin (2011) remind us that “Teachers learn by doing, reading, and reflecting (just as students do); by collaborating with other teachers; by looking closely at students and their work; and by sharing what they see” (p. 83).

As your time with our student teachers begins, we have been mindful that being a cooperating teacher is a significant commitment of time and energy. We have begun to ease that by having our teacher candidates center their work around goals that will be shared with you. We know that “mentors need to collaborate with the mentee for establishing…goals and facilitate the mentee’s self-reflection towards a higher level of expertise” (Hudson, 2004, p. 144). To become more intentional about their work and growth in the teaching and learning community, our candidates rely heavily on their cooperating teachers for their modeling, feedback, and collaboration to that end.

To help your student teacher succeed, I encourage you to consider the advice of educator Jill Staake (2018):

1. Be honest and direct

2. Model the right behaviors

3. Help them plan in advance

4. Use co-teaching, especially at the beginning

5. Provide constant feedback

6. Be up front when they’re struggling

These tidbits connect us back into our teacher candidates as reflective members of the teaching and learning community and position us to collaborate as builders in the next generation of educators.


Darling-Hammond, L., & McLaughlin, M. W. (2011). Policies that support professional

development in an era of reform. Phi Delta Kappan, 92(6), 81-92.

Hudson, P. (2004). From generic to specific mentoring: A five-factor model for developing

primary teaching practices. European Journal of Teacher Education, 27(2).

Staake, J. (2018, November 16). 6 ways to HELP student teachers succeed. We Are


The First Two Weeks for Student Teachers

Week 1 with Students:

  • Help the student teacher get to know your students, the teachers, and the school
  • Review the Orientation Guidelines/Checklist
  • Assist the student teacher in setting up observations--one of the cooperating teacher and another of a colleague
  • Allow the student teacher to assist with planning, preparation of lessons and materials, monitoring of individual and group work.
  • Develop a schedule to build reaching responsibilities up to full teaching responsibilities for a minimum of 3 full weeks for 12- and 16- week placements, 2 for 8-week placements.
  • Discuss goals the student teacher has and begin providing feedback toward those goals.

Week 2 with Students:

  • Work with the student teacher in lesson planning (reviewing plans daily) and management design.
  • Co-teach lessons throughout the day
  • Conduct informal observations and provide actionable feedback.
  • Complete feedback form
  • Elementary: Allow the student teacher to solo teach 30-40 minutes per day and lead morning meetings/classroom routines.
  • Secondary: Allow the student teacher to fully teach at least one section

Quick Links

CSB/SJU Student Teaching Handbook

Student Teaching Observations (by Cooperating Teacher/University Supervisor/Director)

This observation/evaluation form should be used to complete observations throughout the placement. Six formal observations of the student teacher are required within the span of student teaching. We ask that you complete 6 for a 16-week placement, 5 in a 12-week placement, 3 in an 8-week placement, and 2 in a 5-week placement. The entire form does not need to be completed for each observation; however, by the end of the placement, each part should be addressed.

Additional Forms:

Cooperating Teacher Information (if not completed in the past three years)

Feedback (weeks 2, 6, 10, & 12)
Cooperating Teacher's Final Evaluation of Student Teacher

Cooperating Teacher's Dispositional Evaluation of Student Teacher

Great Resources for Beginning the Year

CSB/SJU Education Department

Jennifer L. Meagher, EdD.

Director of Elementary and Secondary Student Teaching

Allison Spenader, PhD.