Topper Teacher Candidates Tackle Non-traditional Instruction

AACTE Responds to COVID-19

This article originally appeared on the Western Kentucky University WKU News  site and is reprinted with permission.

With the help of faculty and partnering school districts, Western Kentucky University student teachers Ian Harper, Theresa Price, and Hallee Black, among other candidates, immediately went to work developing an alternative learning plan for their classrooms in light of COVID 19 mitigations. Overnight, non-traditional instruction, or NTI, became a mantra and a motive with each candidate pulling tools and resources from their arsenal of lessons learned during their time at WKU.

“Our Topper teacher candidates have stepped up in a big way,” said WKU Office of Professional Educator Services Director, Stephanie Martin, as she reflected on the days leading into alternative learning.

“I had professors at WKU that prepared us for NTI days inadvertently,” said Ian Harper, middle school social studies and language arts major from Bowling Green. Harper currently serves eighth grade students at Drakes Creek Middle School in Bowling Green and said that, even in this “worst case scenario,” WKU faculty and Warren County teachers helped him adapt to the current unprecedented situation thanks to their commitment to technology-based resources.

“Hopefully, we will never face anything like it again,” Harper said in regards to the global pandemic. “In the event that we do—I feel prepared to tackle it and continue my lessons in an effective manner.”

NTI days have also introduced teacher candidates to different methods of education that have improved student engagement and contributed to their own professional learnings. “As educators and learners, I believe we have a great opportunity to learn and grow right now,” said Hallee Black, an elementary education major from Elizabethtown.

Black currently serves at Lincoln Trail Elementary School in Elizabethtown, and says that her technological advancements have not only helped the students in her virtual classroom, but her mentor teacher as well. “I’ve learned how to use new technology, such as Google Meets, Zoom, and FlipGrid,” Black said, who recently finished her Google Level Two certification.

Although tremors from the shift in traditional education were felt among Topper teacher candidates, middle school education major from Magnolia, Theresa Price, is able to glimpse the silver lining in what some call the new “normal.”

“Due to this situation I feel like a family with my fellow student teachers,” Price said. “Student teachers are eager to share what has worked for them during NTI days, successes in using free resources, and even failures when what they thought was going to be great ended up being a flop.” Price currently serves students at LaRue County Middle School and said she is proud to be a Hilltopper during this situation.

Student teaching is the capstone experience that bridges the WKU undergraduate experience to the first year of teaching. WKU College of Education and Behavioral Sciences will graduate 189 student teachers at the end of the 2020 spring semester. For more information on the program, contact Stephanie Martin or Cindy White at and

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