The Acorn

A Newsletter for CSB/SJU Cooperating Teachers

Volume 3, issue 8* November 20 , 2020

Growing, Nurturing, Developing, and Supporting

"The Acorn" is a newsletter for the cooperating teachers working with student teachers from the College of St. Benedict and 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 on working with student teachers.

Missions, Values, and Resilience

I’m a big believer that things happen for a reason and that when something becomes consistently threaded through disparate parts of my life, I need to pay attention. In the last several months, several of the conversations I have engaged in have centered on values—in chats with student teachers, in seminar discussions, in our state accreditation, in visits with other educational professionals, in podcasts I listen to, in books I’ve been reading. In all of my years as an educator, I have looked at values as foundational to everything I do. My work has always been grounded in fundamental values—that all people deserve love, care, and to be treated with dignity, that excellence is the expectation, that grace and support must be given to those who struggle, miss the mark, or fall, and that I often have a responsibility to others’ success. I also have significant beliefs about my content and about teaching and learning. When I began teaching, I believed this foundation was unshakable, that it wouldn’t shift. However, the truth is that some of these beliefs and values have shifted—not in a drastic way—but they have shifted. Why? Experience, professional development, societal and cultural changes, student needs, technological improvements, pedagogical advancements, and critical reflection have all contributed to these shifts. We learn and grow with our observations and experiences when we have an open mind and heart to do so. Maya Angelou said, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

Because I have changed, grown, learned, experienced the world in myriad ways, and because I have been able to reflect on these changes in values and perspectives, I’ve been able to become a better, more effective educator. That is what we hope for our student teachers through the study of their foundational beliefs and through reflective practice. “When teachers can identify the values and beliefs at the centre of their practice, they have a frame of reference that helps the evaluate their current practice” (Vision for Learning).

Our practices as educators are changing within the COVID environment. It is becoming harder and harder to do the work we know that we want to do as what is often best for our students isn’t possible when we cannot be with them. So, we must work differently. We must be dichotomous in our approaches—strong but flexible. In order to do so, we have to be resilient. Elena Aguilar, author of The Art of Coaching (2013) and Onward: Cultivating Emotional Resilience in Educators, (2018), has shared the connection between our values and our practice: “Knowing and acting on core values is essential to being a resilient educator—and resilience is key to managing the continuous challenges that any educator faces” (Aguilar, 2011).

The number of studies and organizations focused on teacher resilience has been growing since 2005. In a meta-analysis of such studies, Beltman, Mansfield, and Price (2011) found that among the protective factors of resilience, the single most influential personal attribute in resilience was having a strong moral purpose for teaching (p. 191). Interestingly, additional protective factors revolved around the context of the school. Beltman, Mansfield, and Price also found that strong supportive school leaders and connections to the values, goals, and philosophies of the schools ranked at the top of the list of contextual factors for resilience (p. 192). Gu and Day (2013) provided more insight on resilience noting resilience in teachers “is the capacity to manage the unavoidable uncertainties inherent in the realities of teaching” (Gu & Day, 2013, p. 39) and that it is influenced, in part, by the organizational mission and structures of the school (p. 40). Studying how teachers build their resilience, Aguilar (2011) suggested that members of the school community to realign their belief systems individually and collectively. Not only does this offer time for personal reflections, it builds community around a purpose.

Having reviewed the missions and value statements of the schools where our student teachers are placed, I believe there is evidence that resilience is being modeled for our student teachers. From Farmington to Little Falls, district mission statements are focused on the future, human potential, character building, and equity. These missions are at work in classrooms, whether face-to-face or virtual. I can see how our student teachers are developing resilience under the mentorship of their cooperating teachers who have emphasized “emphasized academic excellence and character building” (Kaleidoscope Academy Charter School), who have “empower[ed] every student to thrive and contribute in an ever-changing world” (Forest Lake Area Schools), who have contributed to the “well-being of their neighborhood” (St. Cloud Area Catholic Schools), and done so much more.

I encourage student teachers and cooperating teachers to look thoughtfully at their mission statements to see how they align with their own values and practices. We all have standards to meet in each of our content areas, but we also have a responsibility to align ourselves to the good works of our schools and districts.


Aguilar, E. (2011, January 5). How teachers can build emotional resilience. Education Week. Retrieved from

Beltman, S., Mansfield, C., & Price, A. (2011). Thriving not just surviving: A review of research on teacher resilience. Educational Research Review, 6(3), pp. 185-207.

Gu, Q. & Day, C. (2013, February). Challenges to teacher resilience: conditions count. British Educational Research Journal, 39(1), pp. 22-24.

Weeks 13 & 14 Documentation and Timelines

Please refer to the previous issues of The Acorn and the Student Teaching Handbook as needed.

For student teachers with 16-week placements--

Weeks 13 - 14

  • Check to ensure that a minimum of four formal observations have been completed.
  • Allow the student teacher to take on a majority of the day (secondary candidates may have two preps); at some point the student teacher must teach 10 consecutive days as close to full time as possible, more days may certainly be done.
  • Assist the student teacher in addressing areas needing improvement with continued informal observations and feedback
  • Refer to the student teacher's mid-term goals for mentorship
  • Begin planning for the end of the placement including a transition back, make up work for students, writing letters of recommendation/reference, and buttoning up the final conference and evaluation

For student teachers with endorsements in a 5-week placement—

Week 1 of second placement--

  • Help the student teacher get to know your students, the teachers, and the school
  • Review the Orientation Guidelines/Checklist with cooperating teacher
  • Assist the student teacher in setting up observations--one of the cooperating teacher and another of a colleague, if possible.
  • Allow the student teacher to assist with planning, preparation of lessons and materials, monitoring of individual and group work.
  • Determine which classes the student teacher will lead building to teaching one less than the teacher’s full load.
  • Allow the student teacher to teach a lesson you have co-planned (30-60 minutes). Observe this lesson and provide feedback to the student teacher.

Week 2 of second placement--

  • Work with the student teacher in planning, preparation of lessons and materials, monitoring student work.
  • Co-teach lessons throughout the day
  • Allow the student teacher to teach approximately ⅓ of teaching load (more if comfortable)
  • Observe and provide informal feedback for at least two lessons this week

For student teachers with 8-week placements--

Week 5 of second placement--

  • Discuss lesson planning and management techniques
  • Encourage the student teacher to observe another classroom or two based on areas needing improvement; upon completion, discuss what was discovered and what could be implemented in current practice, if possible
  • Conduct one formal observation
  • Co-teach in classes/subjects the student teacher isn’t leading
  • Elementary: Build to ½ to ¾ of the day of the student teacher leading the class
  • Secondary: Allow the student teacher to solo teach all sections of the course and additional courses as co-determined

Week 6 of second placement--

  • Discuss lesson planning and management techniques
  • Elementary: Add teaching time for 75-80% of the teaching day. Aim for as close to full time as possible.
  • Secondary: Have the student teacher continue teaching all sections of the initially chosen course and additional courses as noted in week 13 for 75-80% of the day (all but one section of a full-time load).


This link will connect you with the online forms required by our program to assess our student teachers' progress in student teaching. Cooperating teachers should be completing 4 observations of students whose placements are 12 weeks or longer. See the handbook for specific details.

By the end of week 10, all student teachers should have had a minimum of THREE total formal observations by the cooperating teacher(s).

At the end of placements, cooperating teachers should complete three additional forms: an evaluation of the university supervisor, a dispositional rating of the student teacher, and a final evaluation of the student teacher.

Please remember to use N/A (unable to observe) for any areas not evaluated during a particular observation.

Observation Form

Evaluation of University Supervisor

Student Teacher’s Dispositional Evaluation

Student Teaching Final Evaluation

Resources for Distance Learning

As many of our schools have moved to hybrid and distance learning, I have compiled a list of resources and articles that may be helpful in this process.

How to Co-Teach During Distance Learning

This article lists a handful of ways to honor each other and work collaboratively in the distance environment. It also links to other helpful resources.

Virtual IEP Accommodations

This article identifies common accommodations and offers online/digital resources and platforms to address each accommodation. These are great for all students!

How to Create a Self-Paced Classroom

Kareem Farah shares ideas and steps to change the organization of the distanced classroom to accommodate student learning and pacing. Situated in Jen Gonzalez's blog Cult of Pedagogy you will find other articles that are very useful in navigating distance learning.

The Learning Network

Created by The New York Times, this site has content, activities, and curriculum for students as well as professional development and teaching ideas for public use. It is an excellent source!


This blog explores innovative ways teachers keep students engaged and provides content for use. It is highly rated in educational circles.

Free Technology for Teachers

Richard Byrne reviews and curates tech resources, websites, and program that are free for teachers and learners. His blog received the an award for being the best educational resource sharing blog in 2018.

CSB/SJU Education Department

Jennifer L. Meagher, Ed.D.

Director of Elementary and Secondary Student Teaching