The Acorn

A Newsletter for CSB/SJU Cooperating Teachers

Volume 3, issue 4* September 25, 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.

Classroom Management for Student Teachers

Over the past month, student teachers have engaged in reading, discussion, and reflection about classroom management and discipline in their classroom placements and in our student teaching seminars. Their work has been largely organized around the Richard Curwin, Allen Mendler, and Brian Mendler’s Discipline with Dignity: How to Build Responsibility, Relationships, and Respect in Your Classroom (4th ed.). Curwin, Mendler, and Mendler (2018) recognize the challenges of managing student behavior and balancing “meeting the needs of the group by maintaining social order and meeting the unique needs of each student” (p. 5). In addressing the ideas and issues that surround classroom management, the authors create a strong foundation around two things: our core beliefs and principles and the dignity of every individual.

When I think about student teachers and their emerging skills in classroom management, I am compelled to consider how Curwin, Mendler, and Mendler’s ideas about classroom management align with the Benedictine values practiced and advocated within the College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University. Interestingly, both create a “structure that is both flexible and strong” (Klassen, Renner, & Reuter, 2001; p. 2); both speak to the importance of living in community and the demands placed on us as a result. Our CSB/SJU community members are taught the importance of having “a deep respect for the individual person, a commitment to the development of each person, and [demonstrating] pervasive attention to the needs of the individual” (p. 8). Curwin, Mendler, and Mendler (2018) encouraged us to better understand the factors that contribute to discipline issues with students including in and out of school causes, and reminded us that teachers who are successful classroom managers recognize student need areas, show respect and genuine care for students, provide appropriate and relevant material for learning, and correct and appreciate students “with thoughtfulness and dignity” (p. 25).

Developing effective classroom management strategies, practices, and procedures can be challenging for any teacher! In our work in seminars, student teachers were to consider their own beliefs and values about teaching and learning, particularly those that establish the environment and connections with students. They were encouraged to examine how their values and interactions in relationship to discipline, consequences, and long-term goals. There is no doubt that this work is ongoing, and the input and feedback from cooperating teachers, university supervisors, and members of the teaching community can help in that.

As we move forward with student teachers in a continuous improvement model regarding classroom management, I encourage cooperating teachers to engage in discussions with student teachers about:

*philosophies about classroom management, discipline, rewards, and consequences

*values that drive or influence classroom management decisions

*ideas and practices for changing student behavior

*ways to prevent discipline problems

*developing effective rules and procedures

*effective consequences and means to address behavior issues

*specific cases or instances for growth


Curwin, R., Mendler, A. & Mendler, B. (2018). Discipline with dignity: How to build responsibility, relationships, and respect in your classroom (4th ed.). Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Klassen, J., OSB, Renner, E., OSB, & Reuter, M., OSB. (2001, May 1). Catholic, BenedictineValues in an Educational Environment [Scholarly project]. In OSB Dot Org. Retrieved June 3, 2020, from

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Weeks 5 & 6 Documentation and Timelines

Please refer to the previous issues of The Acorn for details on Weeks 1-4. These weeks are determined by the first day there is responsibility for student instruction.

Many questions can be answered within the Student Teaching Handbook

Week 5:

● Discuss lesson planning techniques and whether or not to continue with CSB/SJU full lesson plans

● Conduct one formal observation in the class/subject/course the student teacher has been leading

● 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

● Co-teach in classes/subjects the student teacher is not leading

● Elementary:

*. Build to at least ½ of the day of the student teacher leading the class

● Secondary

*Allow the student teacher to solo teach all sections of the course started in Week 2.

Week 6:

● Discuss planning, assessment, and class management techniques

● Conduct one formal observation

● Co-teach in classes/subjects the student teacher is not leading

● Elementary:

*Add teaching time for up to ½ of the day. Add time as confidence and competence are


● Secondary:

*Have the student teacher continue teaching all sections of the original course

*Choose which classes the student teacher will solo teach--all but one class of your full load. Add time as confidence and competence are present.

For those students in 8-week placements, the amount of time solo teaching may be increased with the candidate's confidence and competence.

Observation Information and Form

This link will connect you with the online observation form 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 6, all students in 8 or 16-week placements should have had TWO formal observations by the cooperating teacher. Students with 12-week placements should have two formal observations by the end of week 7.

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

Observation Form

Burnout Blockers

In this video series, created by the Alliance for Decision Education, teachers are given ideas, tips, and tools for avoiding burnout.

Preventing burnout is more important now than it has ever been. This series offers support for new and experienced teachers. More information can be found at the Alliance's website:

Burnout Blockers for Teachers - Video #1: Building Your Confidence as a New Teacher

CSB/SJU Education Department

Jennifer L. Meagher, Ed.D.

Director of Elementary and Secondary Student Teaching