The Acorn

A Newsletter for CSB/SJU Cooperating Teachers

Volume 1, issue 6 * March 13, 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.

Mentoring for Classroom Management

James won’t sit still, and Melanie is constantly talking to someone near her or is on her cell phone. Half of the class isn’t engaged in learning and the other half consists of a group of students who try to out-do one another. Elizabeth cannot tolerate sitting near or working with half of the girls in the class, and everyone wants Michael in their group. You cannot teach with your back to the class because students won’t pay attention, but you need to create text for students to work with. Cody passes gas, Jeremy burps constantly, and two students consistently arrive late to class. Three students ask where to turn in their work…again, and another student questions you on why you didn’t deal with another student’s poor choices. Each of these situations relates to the greatest challenge for the new teacher—classroom management. For experienced teachers, we know how to prevent, address, and work through these situations, but for the new teacher, it is especially difficult as they often lack experience and perceived authority (Wetzel, Hoffman & Maloch, 2017, p. 43). Yet, we know that student teachers must be able to manage a classroom for learning to happen, and we know that our responsibility as cooperating teachers necessitates affording student teachers the opportunity to struggle, learn, and succeed under our guidance.

Relinquishing classroom control can be difficult for a cooperating teacher; however, it is necessary for the student teacher to develop management skills in order to be successful on their own. It is in these weeks of practice that student teachers try on what will work and what will need development. As mentors, cooperating teachers can work with student teachers to find systems that work consistently, maximize learning, and create a safe, healthy environment.

Student teachers need to know that classroom management is not just one thing, that it is a complex and challenging mix of preventative, supportive, and corrective actions designed to elicit behaviors conducive to learning. Additionally, student teachers need to understand their role throughout classroom management and what creates management problems. Many student teachers believe discipline is the primary classroom management problem, but it is not. Problems with student behavior are the result of two primary causes: a lack of “clear, structured, well-rehearsed procedures and routines” (Breaux, 2015, p. 3) and a lack of relationships with students (Levin & Nolan, 2010, p. 196; Wetzel, Hoffman & Maloch, 2017, p. 91). Cooperating teachers can help student teachers develop a management system based on clear expectations (rules, procedures, and routines) and good relationships through modeling, guiding, and discussing these elements.

Whether we use Glasser’s Choice Theory or Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to guide this understanding, there are a few basic ideas that undergird quality management systems. People need to feel secure and cared about in order to achieve. That needed security comes from having a safe, respectful environment grounded in consistent expectations, rules, and routines. In a classroom with consistent expectations, a structure of predictability is in place that allows students to take personal responsibility for their actions being in alignment. Within this structure, the imperative is consistency on the part of the classroom leader. For student teachers, this can be especially difficult as they are trying out new systems and approaches. Cooperating teachers can help student teachers by sharing tips, observing and providing feedback, and allowing the student teacher to develop a system that will work for them.

Beyond the basic need for security and safety, individuals need a sense of belonging. Belonging is developed within positive individual and group relationships of the classroom, especially those established by the teacher. Having positive relationships does not require us to like every student; however, it does require us to lead with an ethic of care and act in consistent, respectful ways (Levin & Nolan, 2010, p. 196). Our students have a need to feel significant, and a teacher who “aims to build a positive student-teacher relationship [holds] a powerful tool” (p. 201) in building a solid learning environment. Marzano (2005) notes that teachers who “consciously find ways to demonstrate that they are interested in students will build a stronger foundation for effective classroom management and learning” (p. 59). The conscious acts of learning students’ interests and using them in lessons, knowing of students’ accomplishments and needs, and finding ways to interact with students as individuals will precipitate the development of positive relationships.

In the next few weeks, consider helping student teachers in making a conscious effort toward purposeful action regarding classroom management. Model, observe, and discuss:

*establishment of authority

*how rules and routines are established and carried out

*consistency of sticking to class expectations

*ways of learning about students

*interactions with students who exhibit disruptive behaviors

*nonverbal signals or moves to correct behavior

*positive reinforcements

Keep Hattie and Timperley’s model in mind when providing feedback on classroom management. The application of Where am I Going? How and I Going? and Where to Next? can provide a means to focus the discussion. (See Vol. 1, issue 5 for details.)


Breaux, A. (2015). 101 Answers for new teachers and their mentors. NY: Taylor & Francis.

Glanz, J. (2009). Teaching 101: Classroom strategies for the beginning teacher. NY: Skyhorse.

Levin, J. & Nolan, J.F. (2010). Principles of classroom management: A professional decision-making model. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

Marzano, R.J., Gaddy, B.B., Foseid, M.C., Foseid, M.P., & Marzano, J.S. (2005). A Handbook for classroom management that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Wetzel, M.M., Hoffman, J.V., and Maloch, B. (2017). Mentoring preservice teachers through practice: A framework for coaching with care. NY: Routledge.

Weeks 11 & 12--Cooperating Teacher Expectations

In Weeks 11 & 12, most student teachers (k-6, k-12, and secondary) are established in their second placements. Elementary educators should be teaching 60-90 minutes daily during these two weeks, working toward nearly full time by the end of week 13. More instructional time may be given to the student teacher based on your professional judgment. Secondary educators should be teaching a few classes with the goal of taking on all but one class by the end of week 13. During these weeks, student teachers should be observed and given feedback on goals that are set by the student teacher (seek the feedback article in the last issue of The Acorn).

Students who have elementary teaching with endorsements should be transitioning in weeks 11-12. Please follow the second set of guidelines.

What are the areas of focus for the cooperating teacher in the next few weeks?

*Complete at least two observations of the student teacher focusing on specific goal areas. These are informal and do not require reporting to the university.

*By the mid-point in the student teacher's placement, complete the Mid-Placement Evaluation Form. Go over your commentary with the student teacher. Then, email a copy to the university supervisor.

*Be sure you have completed the Cooperating Teacher Information Form and conducted ONE formal observation using one of these forms:

Student Teacher's Instructional Evaluation

Student Teacher's Observation and Disposition Evaluation

(Please forward the emailed copy of the observation to your student teacher's university supervisor.)

Cooperating teachers finishing with student teachers:

*Observe to provide specific feedback for the student teacher as discussed in the feature article.

*Assist in completing necessary edTPA tasks prior to the student teacher's departure from your classroom.

Here are helpful links for that:

*Make plans with the student teacher for student work completion and evaluation to be done prior to leaving. Determine responsibilities and expectations to close the time together.

What forms and tasks need to be completed before my student teacher transitions?

*Conduct a formal observation using one of the following forms:

Student Teacher's Instructional Evaluation

Student Teacher's Observation and Disposition Evaluation

(Please forward the emailed copy of the observation to your student teacher's university supervisor.)

*Complete the end-of-placement evaluations

Cooperating Teacher's End-of-Placement Evaluation (This evaluates dispositions and general aptitudes)

Final Student Teacher Evaluation of Standards of Effective Practice (This evaluates specific standards identified by the State as necessary for teacher licensure)

Evaluation of University Supervisor (This provides feedback on the university supervisor's work with the student teacher and cooperating teacher as well as communications from the university)

*Meet with the student teacher and university supervisor to share strengths and areas of improvement.

*Finally, write a letter of recommendation for your student teacher that will be submitted to the university supervisor and the Director of Elementary and Secondary Student Teaching. This is required in order to receive CEUs and honorarium. Please send to

NOTE: If your student teacher has recently transitioned into your classroom, please refer to the previous issues of The Acorn for weekly expectations based on your student teacher's timeline in your classroom. If you have questions, feel free to contact Jennifer Meagher.

Moment of Levity

Every teacher needs a moment of levity at some point, and it's even better when it is attached to a moment of learning. For this reason, I'm a big fan of Gerry Brooks. In the video below, he offers a management strategy for teachers.

Call for Chapters--An exciting opportunity to be published

How Teachers Persist: Why We Remain (and Thrive) in this Challenging Profession

Edited by Terri L. Rodriguez, Heidi L. Hallman, Kristen Pastore-Capuana

We invite chapters co-authored by K-12 teachers and teacher educators that reflect how they persist, remain, and thrive in our challenging profession. The book is premised on the idea that co-authors will be colleagues and mentors to each other, but will share the attribute of being “invested stayers” in the education profession. Co-authors will have used catalysts (landmark changes in education) as productive sites for growth, agency, and even resistance across the arc of their professional lives. The book recognizes that we persist because of multiple and overlapping factors between our professional and personal lives, including the relationships we develop with each other as colleagues and mentors in our professional development.

Each chapter will focus on co-authors’ teaching lives through a changing landscape of New Times (Gee, 2000; Gee, Hull & Lankshear, 1996; Luke & Elkins, 1998). New Times has aimed to characterize changing aspects of the current era in which we live and scholars have noted factors such as the rise of the Internet and interconnectivity, globalization, and demographic diversity (Coomes & DeBard, 2004; Howe & Strauss, 2000; Rodriguez & Hallman, 2013) as shaping the current era.

Contributors to the book will orient their chapter to one of the landscapes below. Though we envision that one landscape will orient the chapter, we also understand that commentary on multiple landscapes will likely be discussed within chapters. We are particularly interested in hearing about how change can be re-envisioned to propel one’s professional growth.

Digital Landscapes

● Equitable access to technology (e.g., 1:1 initiatives)

● 21st century digital tools (e.g., digital video, podcasting, Google Classroom)

● Social media

● Sociotechnical landscapes

Political Landscapes

● Top-down educational reform and assessments (e.g., CCLS)

● Teacher certification assessments (e.g., edTPA)

● Scripted curriculum and standardized testing culture

Social Landscapes

● Increasing numbers of culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) K-12 students

● Access and resource gaps

● Changing communities Disciplinary Landscapes:

● Changing methodologies in one’s discipline

● New visions for classroom teaching and schooling

● Innovative approaches to curriculum and practice (e.g., project-based learning)

Format for chapter: Chapters will consist of narrative essays and commentary and should be written in second and/ or third person voice. However, we encourage authors to include stories that exemplify their experience in first-person and these will be included in textboxes. Some teachers and teacher educators may wish to weave their narrative essays and commentary together; others may wish to create distinct sections to their chapter--with one section featuring the teacher educator’s voice and another section featuring the teacher’s voice.

Timeline: Interested contributors should submit an abstract (250-300 words) by April 1, 2019. Please indicate which of the above landscape your chapter will exemplify. Please submit your abstract to Terri Rodriguez ( Accepted chapters will be notified by May 1, 2019. First drafts of completed chapters (3,500-4,500 words) will be due by August 15, 2019. Final drafts will be due by November 15, 2019. The book is under contract with the publisher.

Submissions Welcome!

Submissions to this newsletter are welcome from stakeholders in the CSB/SJU student teaching process. Send copy, pictures, etc., to Jennifer Meagher at

CSB/SJU Education Department

Jennifer L. Meagher, Ed.D.

Director of Elementary and Secondary Student Teaching