The Acorn

A Newsletter for CSB/SJU Cooperating Teachers

Volume 4, no. 5--Friday, October 29, 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

Reflexivity in Teacher Mentorship

In my last edition of The Acorn I shared the following:

"Candidates are looking for ways to adapt and change what they are doing to improve their practice and student learning; they also seek ways to become more clear, precise, artistic, and integrated into their teaching. In the reflection time, creating space and opportunity for the student teacher to walk through metacognitive processes and dialogues with mentor teachers is critical to growth (Reinhardt, 2017, p. 389)."

After spending a considerable amount of time in teacher candidates’ classrooms over the past few weeks, I realized that the idea stated above is reflexive. As we ask questions of our students, pushing them to reflect on their own teaching, we must also consider how we would personally address those moments and practices we are discussing. In their research on teacher efficacy, Ryan and Webster (2017) clarify this for us: “Reflexivity differs from reflection in the sense that the person herself who is doing the reflection is included in thinking and evaluation of her own practice in such a way that her own beliefs, understandings, and habits are being examined” (Ryan & Webster, p. 65).

Being a cooperating teacher is rewarding work, but it is also challenging. As a result of our formal and informal observations and conversations, much time and energy are given to rethinking what we do. In “addition to improving practices to make them better, we are also giving considerations to ourselves in order that we ourselves, as persons who teach, might become better” (Ryan & Webster, p. 65). As a teacher educator and mentor myself, I find this both humbling and exciting! When I engage in reflexive dialogues with student teachers, I am positioned to challenge and change my own beliefs and practices about teaching and learning. Sometimes I can rest on my knowledge and expertise; other times, I am pushed to do some research, reading, and personal reflection. Truth be told, this is the best professional development—personalized, challenging, impactful, and rewarding.


Reinhardt, K. (2017) Mentoring in clinical placements: conceptualization of role and its impact on practices, Action in Teacher Education, 39:4, 381-396, DOI: 10.1080/01626620.2017.1347533

Ryan, A. & Webster, R. S (2019). Teacher reflexivity: An important dimension of a teacher's growth. In Webster, R. Scott and Whelen, John D. (ed), Rethinking reflection and ethics for teachers, Springer: Singapore, pp.65-79, doi: 10.1007/978-981-32-9401-1_5.

Weeks 9 & 10 for Student Teachers

For Candidates in 12- or 16-week placements:

Weeks 9 & 10--

  • Engage in goal-setting for the remainder of the term
  • Revise teaching calendar as necessary based on observational data
  • Assist student teacher to address areas needing improvement with continued informal observations and feedback
  • CT to complete feedback form by the end of week 10
  • Conduct one formal observation by the end of week 10
  • To review and reset (providing informal observational feedback),
  • Elementary: Allow the student teacher to teach to 75-80% of full load, building to full time teaching for at least two consecutive weeks
  • Secondary: Allow the student teacher to teach to almost full time (one section less than the teacher’s full load) building to full time teaching for at least two consecutive weeks

For Candidates in 8-week placements:

Week 1 of new placement--

  • 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 student work time.
  • Develop an eight-week schedule to build reaching responsibilities up to full teaching responsibilities for a minimum of 2 full weeks.
  • Allow the student teacher to teach a lesson you have co-planned. Observe this lesson and provide feedback.

Week 2 of new placement--

  • Work with the student teacher in lesson planning (reviewing plans daily) and management design.
  • Co-teach lessons throughout the day
  • Allow the student teacher to fully teach at least one section
  • Conduct informal observations and provide feedback.
  • CT to complete feedback form

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, 6/7, 10, & 12)
Cooperating Teacher's Final Evaluation of Student Teacher

Cooperating Teacher's Dispositional Evaluation of Student Teacher

Motivation Resources

Now, more than ever, teachers are challenged with keeping students motivated to learn. Here are some great resources I have found that might be of assistance in planning and instruction.

TeachThought identifies a quick list of ideas to build motivation..

Larry Ferlazzo shares ideas to help students motivate themselves in this Edutopia article.

Dave Stuart, Jr.'s blog is filled with great motivational ideas such as this micro-primer.

Stuart also offers a guide to building student effort.

Education Week has a series of videos on Youtube that address motivation.

CSB/SJU Education Department

Jennifer L. Meagher, EdD.

Director of Elementary and Secondary Student Teaching

Allison Spenader, PhD.