The Acorn

A Newsletter for CSB/SJU Cooperating Teachers

Volume 3, no. 10--Friday, January 15, 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

The Importance of Building Relationships for Learning

Cooperating teachers play a vital role in helping our young people develop as educational professionals and in providing tools for their pedagogical and management tool boxes. Throughout the student teaching experience, candidates have extended opportunities to observe and engage in what it means to be a teacher, building opportunities and relationships that are stronger and greater than those developed in practicum assignments.

A critical element in a successful student teaching experience is the relationship built between the student teacher and the cooperating teacher. Building a working relationship grounded in mutual goals and open communication is necessary to a productive environment. As the leader in the classroom, it becomes the cooperating teacher’s responsibility to “establish a supportive emotional and professional climate” (Henry & Weber, 2016, p. 19). While this seems to be a natural element of the student teaching set up, it is important to be intentional about the climate and relationship that is established early on in the student teaching experience. Not only does a collaborative and supportive environment help student teachers develop their confidence (Hawkey, 1997; p. 328; Rajuan, Biejaard & Verloop, 2007, p. 238), it helps all stakeholders grow their craft (Palmer, 1998, p. 144). And, isn’t that the purpose of student teaching?

In the changing models of teaching this past year, relationship building has been extremely important in ensuring that students remain connected to the learning opportunities available for them. This is all about open communication, creating a productive environment, and supporting each other in the learning process. In the articles linked below, you will find practical and helpful ways to build and maintain relationships and engagement with students across digital platforms. For our student teachers, your modeling and expertise is essential in helping them to make human and content connections that transfer across models. Your communication with them is implicit in the mentorship relationship, and I encourage you to visit with one another about these articles and about how you create learning environments that are good for students regardless of the platform.

Thank you for your work, for your willingness to support a CSB/SJU student teacher, and for your valuable time!


Hawkey, K. (1997). Roles, responsibilities, and relationships in mentoring: A Literature review and agenda for research. Journal of Teacher Education,48(5), 325-335. doi:10.1177/0022487197048005002

Henry, M.A. & Weber, A. (2016). Preparing for a student teacher. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield.

Palmer, P.J. (1998). The Courage to teach. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Rajuan, M., Beijaard, D., & Verloop, N. (2007). The role of the cooperating teacher: Bridging the gap between the expectations of cooperating teachers and student teachers. Mentoring & Tutoring: Partnership in Learning,15(3), 223-242. doi:10.1080/13611260701201703

The First Two Weeks in Student Teaching

The focus for these two weeks is orientation to the classroom and building relationships between teachers and students. Some ideas to begin are noted below:

  • Help the student teacher get to know your students, the teachers, and the school.

  • Assist the student teacher in learning student names, learning styles, interests, and needs.

  • Orient and provide access for the student teacher regarding teaching modes, technology platforms, and relevant student records.

  • Review the Orientation Guidelines/Checklist.

  • 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. Begin co-teaching.

  • 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. Observe this lesson and provide feedback to the student teacher.

  • Work with the student teacher in lesson and management design.

  • Conduct informal observations of the lessons taught and provide feedback.

  • Solo teaching--

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 begin teaching (at least one section).

Quick Links

CSB/SJU Student Teaching Handbook

Cooperating Teacher's Information

This document is used to track our placement of student teachers and to obtain additional contact information on the cooperating teacher.

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.

Readings and Resources

CSB/SJU Education Department

Jennifer L. Meagher, EdD.

Director of Elementary and Secondary Student Teaching

Allison Spenader, PhD.