The Acorn

A Newsletter for CSB/SJU Cooperating Teachers

Volume 2, issue 8 * November 28, 2019

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.

Reflecting on the Core

As our student teachers are nearing the end of their classroom experiences, I have been reminded of the stress and worry that comes with the upcoming unknowns. For many student teachers, the unknown of what happens after student teaching causes anxiety, trepidation, and/or fear. Over the past four or so years, these young people have been learning and practicing in supported and supportive environments that have been helpful in nurturing their growing knowledge and emerging skills of teaching and learning. As they near the end of their undergraduate tenure and their student teaching time, I encourage cooperating teachers and university supervisors to remind our student teachers to reflect upon their core as they finish their time in hosted classrooms and pursue classrooms of their own.


What do I mean by “reflect upon their core”? Taken from several sources and filtered through our Benedictine and departmental values, I define “core” as the foundational values, beliefs, and practices that drive individuals to perform in the ways they do. For teachers, these manifest themselves in the relationships, rules, routines, lessons and assessment designs, and teaching and assessment practices found within their classrooms, schools, and communities. The core is what matters most in decision making. In What Great Teachers Do Differently, Todd Whitaker (2012) reminds us that the most effective teachers reflect on how they come across to others, how others receive their behavior, and how and why they make the choices they do (5). By reflecting and developing this self-awareness, teachers can move from good to great. Whitaker recognizes that it is the core beliefs that teachers consistently embody and demonstrate in their classrooms that make a difference for students’ sense of belonging and achievement (119). Reflecting on the alignment of their student-teaching decisions to their foundational values and beliefs, student teachers can ground themselves in preparation for the next steps—moving from practice with others to performance on their own.


To prepare them for what will come after student teaching, I would encourage cooperating teachers and university supervisors to observe for and discuss the following ideas (“Benedictine Values”, n.d.; Cervone & Cushman, 2014) that get to that core:

*Relationships with students, school employees, parents/guardians

*Personalization and choice in educational tasks

*Levels of challenge for individual learners

*Supporting students’ social and emotional growth and identity development

*Fostering a welcoming, accepting classroom community

*Social justice and respect


For example, in the review of an observation, one might ask, “When ___ happened, how did you work with that student in being a member of our classroom community?” or “How did you vary the assignment with respect to each learner’s needs?”

A reflective discussion might include questions such as: “How are you supporting students’ emotional growth? Can you provide an example?”


If these sound a bit like interview questions, they may be. So, as our student teachers enter that phase of their lives, we have an excellent opportunity to practice with them as we would with our own students for the performance assessment at the end of this extended unit of student teaching.


I would encourage you to take time to help student teachers reflect on their core as they close out their time with your mentorship and prepare for future interviews (and hopefully continue this reflective practice on their own).


References:

Benedictine Values. (n.d.). Retrieved November 21, 2019, from https://www.csbsju.edu/sjualum/benedictine-values.

Cervone, B., & Cushman, K. (2014, November 3). Core elements of teaching practice in student-centered learning. Retrieved November 21, 2019, from http://www.whatkidscando.org/new/WKCD_Core_Elements_SCL.html.

Whitaker, T. (2012). What great teachers do differently: 17 things that matter most. Larchmont, NY: Eye on Education, Inc.

What to Do During Weeks 14 -16

Our student teachers have three different configurations for their student teaching based on licensure requirements. Noted below are the outlines for each of these groups.

Remember that helpful information can be found in our handbooks: cooperating teacher handbook and student teaching handbook


For cooperating teachers with students in 8 or 16-week placements:

*Allow the student teacher to teach as much as possible

*In the final week, ease the student teacher back to co-teaching and observing.

*Assist student teacher in addressing areas needing improvement with continued informal observations and feedback

*Conduct a formal observation if you wish. A minimum of three observations are to be done in each placement.

*Draft a letter of recommendation for your student teacher (to be completed for the final student teaching conference with the student teacher and university supervisor).


Here are the forms:

*Any final observations using the Student Teacher Observation form

*Complete the Student Teacher's Dispositional Evaluation form

*Complete the Student Teacher's Final Evaluation

*Complete an evaluation of the university supervisor

*Write a letter of recommendation for the student teacher. Please share copies with the student teacher and university supervisor. A copy should be emailed to jmeagher001@csbsju.edu as well.



For cooperating teachers with students in their 5-week endorsement placement:

*Conduct a formal observation using the Student Teaching Observations form. Two are preferred during this period.

*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

*A final conference with the cooperating teacher will be held in the 5th week of this placement.

Elementary:

Build to a minimum of 120 minutes of the student teacher teaching the class.

By the fourth week, the student teacher should have a majority of the teaching load (80% of the day).

Secondary:

Build to the student teaching taking on all but one of the teacher's full load.


Here are the forms:

*Any final observations using the Student Teacher Observation form

*Complete the Student Teacher's Dispositional Evaluation form

*Complete the Student Teacher's Final Evaluation

*Complete an evaluation of the university supervisor

*Write a letter of recommendation for the student teacher. Please share copies with the student teacher and university supervisor. A copy should be emailed to jmeagher001@csbsju.edu as well.

CSB/SJU Education Department

Jennifer L. Meagher, Ed.D.

Director of Elementary and Secondary Student Teaching