The Acorn

A Newsletter for CSB/SJU Cooperating Teachers

Volume 4, no. 4--Friday, October 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

Post-Observation Coaching

A favorite part of my job is having the ability to observe and interact with student teachers through the observation process. Not only do I enjoy seeing the work we do at CSB/SJU evidenced in classrooms, I appreciate the opportunity to reflect on lessons and teaching practices with our teacher candidates when the lessons are completed. Throughout this process, I know the hard work that is done to prepare and present these lessons. And, I know the challenge of finding time to reflect on and build from the personal learnings in those lessons. That is my goal and challenge for our candidates and cooperating teachers in these next few weeks.

One beautiful part of a formal observation is the TIME to engage in purposeful reflection of teaching and learning that occurred. It is a time to “mediate teacher thinking in ways that lead to explicit and overt changes in teaching practice that are known to create greater student learning and achievement” (Dunne & Villani, 2007). At this point in the student teaching process, candidates’ focus and mindset have likely shifted into those of flexibility and craftsmanship (Costa, Garmston, & Zimmerman, 2012). Candidates are looking for ways to adapt and change what they are doing to improve their practice and student learning; they also seek ways to become more clear, precise, artistic, and integrated into their teaching. In the reflection time, creating space and opportunity for the student teacher to walk through metacognitive processes and dialogues with mentor teachers is critical to growth (Reinhardt, 2017, p. 389).

In my recent classroom visits and post-conferences, I was fortunate to have metacognitive dialogues with the teacher candidates. The candidates walked through what went well in their lessons and quickly moved to what they would do the next time to improve. I was careful to hold my ideas and ask questions to push the candidate into deeper reflection. It would have been easy to jump into what I might have done in a particular situation, but I am an outsider. My “would haves” aren’t going to be welcomed. While it is important to identify that there is a need to improve, it is also important for the candidate to personally identify the conditions that required improvement and how to be intentional around these areas of improvement. It is important to slow the process down and model intentionality, to dig deeper into the candidate’s thinking so, as with our k-12 students, there is greater learning and achievement.

Below is a chart of potential questions to ask teacher candidates to engage in metacognitive dialogue in post-conferences. I encourage cooperating teachers and supervisors to dive in with these.


Costa, A., Garmston, R., & Zimmerman, D. (2012, November 8). Teacher evaluation: What’s fair? What’s effective? ASCD Express. Retrieved from

Dunne, K. & Villani, S. (2007). Preparing mentor teachers as collaborative coaches. In Mentoring New Teachers through Collaborative Coaching: Linking Teacher and Student Learning (pp. 55-79). San Francisco: WestEd. Retrieved from: online_pubs/LI-06-04_chap4sampleall.pdf

Reinhardt, K. (2017) Mentoring in clinical placements: conceptualization of role and its impact on practices, Action in Teacher Education, 39:4, 381-396, DOI: 10.1080/01626620.2017.1347533

Possible Questions for Reflecting Conversations (Dunne & Villani, 2007, p. 77)

Big picture

Weeks 7 & 8 for Student Teachers

IMPORTANT NOTE:By the end of week 7, all student teachers should have at least two formal observations recorded.

For Candidates in 12- or 16-week placements:

Week 7 with Students:

  • Model teaching, learning, and assessment for the student teacher
  • Conduct one formal observation with actionable feedback
  • Co-teach in classes/subjects the student teacher is not leading
  • Elementary: Allow the student teacher to fully teach in one subject, minimum
  • Secondary: Allow the student teacher to teach up to two classes less than a full-time load, if the student teacher is prepared to do so

Week 8 with Students:

  • Engage in goal-setting for the remainder of the term
  • Revise teaching calendar as necessary based on observational data
  • CT to complete feedback form
  • Elementary: Allow the student teacher to teach to 75-80% of full load
  • Secondary: Allow the student teacher to teach to almost full time (one section less than the teacher’s full load)

For Candidates in 8-week placements:

Week 7 with Students:

  • Conduct one formal observation
  • CT to complete feedback form, if not completed in week 6
  • Elementary and Secondary: Solo teaching full time for ten consecutive days
  • Discuss transitioning back to your classroom
  • Ensure that a final meeting has been scheduled with the university supervisor
  • Prepare a letter of recommendation/reference for the final meeting

Week 8 with Students:

  • Have the student teacher teach half time and observe (either you or colleagues) half time
  • Participate in the final meeting
  • Complete all CSB/SJU forms—final evaluation and dispositional rating (see forms below)

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, 6/7, 10, & 12)
Cooperating Teacher's Final Evaluation of Student Teacher

Cooperating Teacher's Dispositional Evaluation of Student Teacher

Great Resources for Coaching Student Teachers

CSB/SJU Education Department

Jennifer L. Meagher, EdD.

Director of Elementary and Secondary Student Teaching

Allison Spenader, PhD.