The Acorn

A Newsletter for CSB/SJU Cooperating Teachers

Volume 4, no. 9--Friday, January 7, 2022

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

As our new student teachers enter their classrooms, we know they enter with some experience and a lot of anticipation. They are anxious about getting to know the students, the content, the expectations, and everything the cooperating teacher expects of them. They are also excited to learn and grow as emerging professional educators. As cooperating teachers, you play a vital role in that growth process!

A primary goal of student teaching is to “enhance novice teachers’ opportunities to learn within the contexts of teaching” (Lai, 2005, as cited in Ambrosetti & Dekkers, 2010). To understand those contexts, cooperating teachers should begin with their student teachers as they would with their own students—with orientation and clarity of expectations, creating “opportunities…that serve(s) long term goals of good teaching (Rajuan, Beijaard, & Verloop, 2007, p. 225) and in building relationships.

The first part of this process is orienting the student teacher to the classroom, the content, and to what has already been happening. Some things to consider are as follows:
*Discuss expectations and what is hoped for the student teaching experience for both individuals

*Go over procedures, policies, routines, and schedules that are already in place.

*Explain current processes for planning, teaching procedures and style, addressing student needs, handling classroom management, etc. Knowing WHY you’re doing what you’re doing is as important as WHAT you’re doing.

*Select an area or two of focus each couple of weeks. Think of using the previous point regarding support—the why for the what (Cox, 2012; Pitler, 2016; Rajuan, Beijaard, & Verloop, 2007).

The second part of building the contexts of teaching is to create, nurture, and provide feedback on teaching opportunities. As experienced teachers, we often have our content and procedures set up for the year. We know the how, when, and why of what we are doing throughout the year. Student teachers come into this experience without that background. Classroom practices and behavior management are not skills that most student teachers have mastered. Cooperating teachers can help student teachers move their plans and notions to reality as we know that master teachers "know classroom management involves more than just teaching a lesson; it involves creating the conditions for teaching" (Podson & Denmark, 2000, p. 112). Student teachers also need models for instructional strategies, assessment techniques, and professional behaviors. Each of these elements helps to build quality teachers.

The final and foundational element in the contexts of teaching is building relationships. 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).

Your expertise in teaching and learning is valuable to CSB/SJU and to the student teachers with whom you will be working. I encourage you to take time to build a relationship with your student teacher, to offer opportunities for new teaching and learning (and even to allow some risk-taking), and to clearly orient your student teacher to the content and procedures in your classroom and school.

Thank you for your valuable work!


Ambrosetti, A. & Dekkers, J. (2010, Oct.), The interconnectedness of the roles of mentors and mentees in pre-servife teacher education mentoring relationships. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 35:6, 42-55.

Cox, J. (2012). How to mentor a student teacher. TeachHub. Retrieved from

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.

Pitler, H.(2016, September 6). Ten tips for mentoring a student teacher [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Podsen, I., & Denmark, V. M. (2000). Coaching & mentoring first-year and student teachers.

Larchmont, NY: Eye on education.

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, 15:3, 223-242.

The First Two Weeks for Student Teachers

Week 1 with Students:

  • Help the student teacher get to know your students, the teachers, and the school
  • Review the Orientation Guidelines/Checklist
  • Assist the student teacher in setting up observations--one of the cooperating teacher and another of a colleague
  • Allow the student teacher to assist with planning, preparation of lessons and materials, monitoring of individual and group work.
  • Develop a schedule to build reaching responsibilities up to full teaching responsibilities for a minimum of 3 full weeks for 12- and 16- week placements, 2 for 8-week placements.
  • Discuss goals the student teacher has and begin providing feedback toward those goals.

Week 2 with Students:

  • Work with the student teacher in lesson planning (reviewing plans daily) and management design.
  • Co-teach lessons throughout the day
  • Conduct informal observations and provide actionable feedback.
  • Complete feedback form
  • 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 fully teach at least one section

Quick Links

CSB/SJU Student Teaching Handbook

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.

Additional Forms:

Cooperating Teacher Information (if not completed in the past three years)

Feedback (weeks 2, as needed--6, 10, & 12)
Cooperating Teacher's Final Evaluation of Student Teacher

Cooperating Teacher's Dispositional Evaluation of Student Teacher

Resources and Interesting Tidbits

CSB/SJU Education Department

Jennifer L. Meagher, EdD.

Director of Elementary and Secondary Student Teaching

Allison Spenader, PhD.