The Acorn

A Newsletter for CSB/SJU Cooperating Teachers

Volume 3, no. 11--Friday, January 29, 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

Relationships for Building our Practice and Each Other

It should go without saying that this year has been challenging for teachers and learners. We have been tried and tested, stretched farther than ever before, and have for the most part, found ways to make it through. One of the ways we have done this is by maintaining and forging relationships with our colleagues and those who support our endeavors. For student teachers and new teachers, this can be difficult as they are unfamiliar with the “lay of the land” and may have a lack of access to what would typically allow us to develop relationships with others. Their place in the community has yet to be established.


In these next two weeks, I encourage cooperating teachers and student teachers to consider the following:


According to Palmer (1998), if we want to “grow in our practice” (p. 141), we need to associate with the community of fellow teachers “from whom we can learn more about ourselves and our craft” (p. 141). Implicit in that idea of community is the concept of relationships. Sergiovanni (1996) noted that communities are “organized around relationships and ideas” (p. 47), the heart of the student and cooperating teacher situation. So, how do we create this? In Preparing for a Student Teacher, Henry and Wallace (2016) advocate for actively building a sense of “our” (p. 20). To actively build that relationship, climate, and community, cooperating teachers should:

*Be available

*Spell out expectations

*Establish and maintain communication

*Give the student teacher options in pedagogy and management

*Include the student teacher in all aspects of school (p. 20, 22)

*Have regular check-ins (daily, weekly)

*Keep a shared talk-about notebook to address questions and concerns without disrupting the "flow" of the lesson or day


Being available goes beyond physical presence. Availability involves having an openness to questions or being a listening ear, having empathy and objectivity (Henry & Wallace, 2016, p. 39). A second part of building the relationship is the clear articulation of expectations. Expectations may be ground rules for the classroom, established by contracts or schedules, or tied to roles in and out of the classroom space (Crane, 2009; McNulty & Quaglia, n.d.; Rajuan, Beijaard & Verloop, 2007, p. 226). Without a doubt, communication is the key to a quality relationship and the most difficult of each of these responsibilities.


Often our communication challenges come from differences in personalities or generation gaps (Henry & Wallace, 2016, pp. 26-27). Rather than see these as impediments, if we re-vision personality differences to complementary perspectives and our generational gaps to offering dimension, we can develop a greater, broader understanding of the thoughts and ideas that may have been in conflict with one another. Next, providing options for your student teacher to have choices with pedagogy and classroom management allows them to experiment within a place of trust and safety. Palmer (1998) refers to this as the “heart of authentic education” (p. 89). It is in making choices, following through with them, and reflecting on their successes or failures that we learn for ourselves; we develop experiential memory. Finally, the student teacher/cooperative teacher relationship does not exist exclusive of the school environment, so the cooperating teacher should introduce, nurture, and support opportunities for the student teacher to be involved throughout the school community. Student teachers need collaborative and personal relationships beyond the classroom in order to further create a “sense of ‘we’ from the ‘I’ of each individual” (Sergiovanni, 1996, p. 47).


Let me close with this dandy tidbit from Daggett and Nussbaum (n.d.): Positive relationships and learning environments nurture and cultivate brain health, encourage engagement, and have a notable effect on neurogenesis and brain plasticity (p. 7). If this is truly the case, developing good relationships will help us learn better, keep us in the game, and help us beat the typical slumps that happen in teaching.


References:

Crane, T.G. (2009). The Heart of coaching: Using transformational coaching to create a high performance coaching culture, 3rd ed. FTA Press.

Daggett, W.R. & Nussbaum, P.D. (n.d.). How Brain Research Relates to Rigor, Relevance and Relationships. Retrieved from http://www.leadered.com/PP/Asbury%20Park,%20NJ%209.9.2015.pdf

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

McNulty, R.J. & Quaglia, R.J. (n.d.). Rigor, Relevance and Relationships. Retrieved from http://www.aasa.org/SchoolAdministratorArticle.aspx?id-6534.

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

Sergiovanni, T.J. (1996). Leadership for the schoolhouse. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Weeks 3 and 4 for Student Teachers

For student teachers who began the week of January 18:

For the week of February 1 (week 3)--

  • Work with the student teacher in planning, preparation of lessons and materials, monitoring student work, assessment and management.
  • Review the student teacher’s lesson plans
  • Co-teach in subjects/classes the student teacher isn’t leading
  • Conduct one formal observation
  • Elementary: Allow the student teacher to solo teach 30-40 minutes per day and lead morning meeting; adding 10 minutes as the student teacher is ready.
  • Secondary: Allow the student teacher to teach at least one section, build to two sections by the end of the week


For the week of February 8 (week 4)--

  • Informally observe and provide feedback for the student teacher
  • Co-teach in classes/subjects the student teacher is not leading
  • Elementary: Allow the student teacher to fully teach in one subject and lead morning meeting
  • Secondary: Teach a minimum two full sections; allow the student teacher to continue with the original course and all other sections of that course (up to two classes less than a full-time load, if the student teacher is prepared to do so)



For student teachers who began the week of January 25:

For the week of February 1 (week 2)--

  • Work with the student teacher in planning, preparation of lessons and materials, monitoring student work.
  • Co-teach lessons throughout the day
  • Conduct informal observations of the lessons taught and provide feedback.
  • 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 in one class


For the week of February 8 (week 3)--

  • Work with the student teacher in planning, preparation of lessons and materials, monitoring student work, assessment and management.
  • Review the student teacher’s lesson plans
  • Co-teach in subjects/classes the student teacher isn’t leading
  • Conduct one formal observation
  • Elementary: Allow the student teacher to solo teach 30-40 minutes per day and lead morning meeting; adding 10 minutes as the student teacher is ready.
  • Secondary: Allow the student teacher to teach at least one section, build to two sections by the end of the week

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

February is typically a time when teachers enter a mid-winter slump. Check out these resources filled with ideas to combat the slump and recharge our minds and bodies.

CSB/SJU Education Department

Jennifer L. Meagher, EdD.

Director of Elementary and Secondary Student Teaching


Allison Spenader, PhD.

Chair