The Acorn

A Newsletter for CSB/SJU Cooperating Teachers

Volume 2, issue 6 * October 30, 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.

Building Capacity in Student Teachers through Co-Reflection

Last week I had the privilege of attending the National Conference on Co-Teaching in Bloomington, MN. While I was there, I was surrounded by educators from all levels of teaching who expressed a passion for improving how we work with our pre-service teachers and peers in lesson planning, delivery, and reflection. It was particularly exciting to hear of research on how co-teaching positively impacts student performance, perceptions of support for the whole child, and the agency and efficacy of pre-service teachers. In one presentation, educators from Pitt County Schools in northeast North Carolina discussed building capacity in co-teachers. They referenced several organizations and models that have informed their work which include Thinking Collaborative and Cognitive Coaching (, Crucial Conversations by Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, and Switzler (see for more information), and highlighted the importance of situational leadership (see while working with novice teachers in particular. What emerged strongly for me through these examples is how important having quality cooperating teachers who are classroom leaders is in the development and support of our student teachers. That’s a big statement!

According to the presenters, quality cooperating teachers are present; they are tuned into their classrooms and the technical and relational needs of their student teachers. Quality cooperating teachers address the technical parts of teaching by co-planning, co-instructing, co-assessing, and co-reflecting with their student teachers. Throughout the entire lesson structure, cooperating teachers are invested in ensuring that their student teacher is not only able to plan, teach, assess, and reflect, but that the student teacher knows why these decisions are made and how to best serve students. Quality cooperating teachers are also concerned about the relational nature of working with a student teacher. Being present to communicate, lead, coach, and provide feedback are critical parts of developing the relationship with the student teacher and to build that novice’s capacity. Effective cooperating teachers as leaders, apply cognitive coaching strategies of listening and allowing the student teacher to self-develop plans and strategies relevant to areas of need. And, because they care about the student teacher and their students, situational leadership is constantly in play.

Since we are just over half-way through our student teachers’ experiences this fall, now is a good time to step back and reflect with our student teachers on each element of the technical parts of teaching. I encourage cooperating teachers to arrange time with student teachers to have critical conversations about the Whys, Hows, and Whats. Hopefully, these stems will help you to engage in some thinking together that will build the capacity of your student teacher as they continue in their journey.


In planning (working through a lesson plan together):

Why are these strategies most appropriate for the lesson goals, the student needs, the content?

How are these activities best meeting the learning needs of the students and the goals of the lesson?

In teaching (immediately after a lesson is taught):

How did you come to the decision to…

How did your choice to [insert action] affect/change/determine…

What are your next moves in teaching…

In assessing (reviewing student work together):

How does this assessment match the goals of the lesson?

How are you providing meaningful feedback to students?

How is student performance shaping your next choices as a teacher?

In reflecting (on a lesson, a day, or a week’s work):

What went well in the lesson?

What did you see as your strengths during the lesson?

What did you see as the students’ strengths?

How did you decide…

What will your next steps be?

How can I support you to…?

When we can internalize the processes of reflection, we build our capacity as educators and leaders in our own classrooms.

Thank you for your efforts in building the capacity of our CSB/SJU student teachers.

What to Do During Weeks 10 & 11

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

For cooperating teachers with students in 12- or 16-week placements:

Weeks 10-11—

*If you haven’t already, complete the mid-placement evaluation and discuss with the student teacher

*Allow the student teacher to teach as much as possible

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

*Conduct a formal observation by the end of week 10 (this should be the third formal evaluation)

*For students in a 12-week placement, begin the transitioning process and plan for a final evaluation conference with the university supervisor.

Here are the forms:

Cooperating Teacher’s Mid-Placement Evaluation of Student Teacher (2019-2020)

This evaluation should be done at the mid-point of each placement. A copy of this will be sent to the cooperating teacher, student teacher, and university electronically.

Student Teaching Evaluation (by Cooperating Teacher)

This observation/evaluation form should be used to complete observations throughout the placement. A minimum of three formal observations of the student teacher is required. The entire form does not need to be completed for each observation; however, by the end of the placement, each part should be addressed.

For cooperating teachers with students beginning their second 8-week placement:

Weeks 10 & 11 (weeks 2 & 3 of this placement)—

*Work with the student teacher in planning, preparation and monitoring of student work

*Review lesson plans as necessary

*Co-teach lessons throughout the day

*Informally observe and provide feedback

*Elementary--have the student teacher take on a minimum of 40 minutes per day

*Secondary--have the student teacher take on one course per day minimum

*Complete the following forms:

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.

Please continue to visit with the student teacher about how they are doing, what plans you have, how they can contribute, and deliver any feedback you have about the day. It is best to be transparent, upfront, and clear! Student teachers appreciate honestly knowing how they are doing. It helps calm their nerves and assists in building communication.

TrillEDU: Culturally Responsive Pedagogy (a TEDtalk)

In this brief video, Jeffrey Dessources makes Culturally Responsive Pedagogy realistic and easy to understand. He challenges us to dig into this topic to better recognize how to do the important work of having important, authentic conversations with our students.

From the youtube description:

If you're an educator, and you're not listening to the student's interests - you're failing to make that connection to aid in their personal development and doing them a disservice. After this talk from Jeffrey Dessources, you'll understand the importance of being culturally responsive in the field of student development. Jeffrey Dessources is a dynamic public educator, author, emcee of Haitian descent. The native New Yorker is the author of five books including his latest Trill Motivation which through imagery, poetry and commentary tackles leadership and motivation from a contemporary perspective. He has delivered lectures at over 25 universities including Columbia and Princeton University and has performed globally in Indonesia, Italy and South Africa. He’s been featured in Ebony Magazine, The Root and Urban Cusp Magazine. He currently serves as the Director of Campus Life at New Jersey City University and Co Founder of the Educational platform, Trill or Not Trill. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at

TrillEDU: Culturally Responsive Pedagogy... | Jeffrey Dessources | TEDxNewJerseyCityUniversity

CSB/SJU Education Department

Jennifer L. Meagher, Ed.D.

Director of Elementary and Secondary Student Teaching