Archive for May, 2020

Protecting the National Pipeline of Teachers

How Virtual Classrooms Can Help Train Preservice Candidates

Teachers using virtual teaching program

“Currently, under normal times, this would not count in Texas. This may change with pandemic issues,” chimed a participant at a recent Mursion Roundtable webinar. This was not an ordinary Zoom event though. It was a group of educators who gathered to test drive a classroom simulation for “Introducing Content for Middle School.” Messages in the chat were flying. In true teacher form, they were engaged, curious, forthright and funny. Several chat messages started with “I’m here to learn …”

What does it actually mean to train a teacher candidate in a simulated clas sroom? What does that look like? How does it feel? One brave volunteer blurted, “I’m terrified …and excited, but mostly terrified.” For those who have observed a first-time participant jump into a simulation, what follows is quite predictable. The learner starts out very tentative. Within minutes of the student avatars appearing on screen, they’re conversing and chuckling at the students’ responses. Then at their command “pause simulation,” they pop out of the scenario with a sigh and a wow. “That was very realistic,” is the usual description of this new experience.

Join Graduate Together Celebration to Honor Class of 2020

Graduate Together

While the coronavirus is prompting cancelation of graduation ceremonies across the nation, AACTE joins the GraduateTogether2020 celebration to honor the more than three million high school seniors in America with the recognition they deserve. AACTE invites members to tune into the one-hour primetime special, GRADUATE TOGETHER: AMERICA HONORS THE HIGH SCHOOL CLASS OF 2020 , on Saturday, May 16—via television, social media, and streaming platforms—to pay tribute to high school seniors, their extraordinary teachers, and their families.

The primetime special, developed by XQ Institute in partnership with The LeBron James Family Foundation and The Entertainment Industry Foundation, is a rally of all Americans around a message of hope and unity.

The partnering organizations are inviting you to get involved and spread the word about about how students, teachers, and families can get involved;

Drs. Xu and Cormier Awarded COVID-19 Rapid Research Grants

AACTE Responds to COVID-19

Yaoying Xu, Ph.D. & Dwayne Ray Cormier, Ph.D.

This article originally appeared on the Virginia Commonwealth School of Education website and is reprinted with permission.

Two VCU School of Education faculty members have been awarded COVID-19 rapid research grants by the university to help better understand this new pandemic and to combat it.

Dwayne Ray Cormier, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Foundations of Education and visiting iCubed scholar, and Yaoying Xu, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Counseling and Special Education, received news of their awards in April.

Cormier’s study will explore pandemic preparedness and response within PreK-12 public school systems located within the Greater Richmond area during the COVID-19 global pandemic.

“The study is exploratory and will use sociological and cultural theoretical frameworks together with a concept mapping methodology to analyze data yielded from focus groups across the PreK-12 school systems,” said Cormier.

AACTE Extends Due Dates for Annual Meeting Reviewer and Proposal Submissions

Annual Meeting Call for Reviewers

Have you thought about getting more involved with AACTE?  Have you considered submitting a proposal or being a reviewer for the 2021 Annual Meeting?  Well now is the time. AACTE has extended the deadlines for reviewers and proposals:

Call for Reviewers deadline has been extended until May 27. Peer Reviewers serve an important role in the Annual Meeting by ensuring that exemplary learning opportunities are selected from the proposals submitted. Applicants will be notified by June 19 and asked to review up to 10 proposals between June 19 – July 29. And don’t forget, you can still submit an Annual Meeting proposal, even while serving as a reviewer. Read the full call for proposals, then apply to review proposals.

AACTE and Mursion Collaborate to Support Teacher Preparation Through Coronavirus

New Partnership Offers Virtual Reality Classrooms to Advance Learning for Future Teachers

The American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE), the leading voice on educator preparation, and Mursion, the global leader in virtual reality (VR) training, are partnering to offer educators and students world-class experiential learning through simulations. The collaboration provides teacher candidates an opportunity to complete clinical field experiences remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic. The special offering is available to educator preparation programs (EPPs) across the nation.

During the coronavirus outbreak, EPPs can launch the VR classrooms in just a few days. Through virtual simulations, candidates can practice instructional techniques and access a platform of over 100 videos of classroom instruction. AACTE and Mursion will offer the VR classroom with simulated students at a special discount to support teacher candidates in these unprecedented times.

AACTE and Mursion Offer Technology Solution for Virtual Clinical Practice

AACTE Responds to COVID-19

AACTE- Mursion Virtual Reality Classrooms

AACTE and Mursion have partnered to offer educator preparation programs a solution to an acute need caused by the global pandemic. Teacher candidates’ opportunity for face-to-face classroom training has been suspended, which has resulted in a risk for future teachers to not complete their course work. The AACTE and Mursion collaboration provides virtual reality classrooms for teacher candidates to receive experiential learning through simulations. Mursion is rooted in teacher training and has conducted 50,000 simulations. Through the new offer, AACTE members receive a 10% discount to access innovative technology, thanks, in part, to an anonymous donor underwriting a portion of the cost.

Mursion has worked with over 70 educator preparation programs at colleges and universities. Here’s what a few participants had to say about the benefits of virtual reality classrooms:

AACTE Survey Captures Members’ Coronavirus Experience and Response

AACTE Responds to COVID-19

To better understand and assist members as they respond to the coronavirus pandemic, AACTE invited all chief institutional representatives to complete a short online survey in early April. Nearly 200 members responded, yielding valuable insights about how the pandemic is affecting educator preparation now and the concerns that leaders anticipate as they look ahead to the 2020-21 academic year. The complete set of findings is available online; highlights include the following:

Instruction 

  • Virtually all programs have transitioned to fully online instruction, using synchronous and asynchronous methods.
  • Faculty have received training in online instruction, and IT support has increased.
  • Many institutions are providing devices for students as needed.

Leading During Difficult Times

During times of crisis, leadership can either ignite fear and uncertainty or provide a sense of purpose and confidence in the path forward. Active leadership in higher education is always multifaceted and requires a culture of preparedness. However, with the onset of COVID-19, leaders faced unprecedented challenges with no easy answers. AACTE interviewed Dale-Elizabeth Pehrsson, president of Clarion University of Pennsylvania, to discuss what leadership in higher education should look like during difficult times and how she is guiding her institution through the COVID-19 crisis.

What should leadership look like during a crisis?

People look to leaders during crises to keep them safe and to help them adjust to the new ‘normal.’ That’s why it is important for leaders to be visible and transparent. Honest communication on a consistent basis is an essential component in building trust with students, faculty, staff, and the community at large.

One leader of an institution can’t manage all the complex facets of the COVID-19 pandemic alone. Effective leaders know how to engage their team and when to rely on them for their expertise. For example, my background is in education and healthcare, but I know that I have healthcare leadership on campus that can more effectively and efficiently handle the public health aspects of the COVID-19 crisis. They know how to interpret, disseminate and present the information to various audiences including campus leadership, management, and staff, as well as to students and their parents. Without a strong leadership team, the information cannot be disseminated as quickly.

Thank You Teachers—You Too, Are First Responders!

AACTE Reponds to COVID-19

Educator conducting a virtual learning session

During these unprecedent times due to the COVID-19 pandemic, K-12 schools across the country are closed and many switched to virtual learning. Remote schooling in many communities has added teacher as a new title for parents and caregivers. For those who already had to transition to work remotely and making necessary adjustments, they suddenly became the teacher for their children. This cumbersome role of parent as educator has challenged some to learn new concepts and navigate technology (e.g., google classroom or zoom). These challenges are no small feats, moving to online learning as the new normal while simultaneously attending to their professional work. 

However, when the abrupt end to the physical school year occurred, teachers quickly adapted to virtual classrooms and modified lessons to support learning at home, ensuring every student had the tools they needed to maintain a semblance of school. Others created new learning materials and innovative approaches, and developed virtual support groups to share materials not only with each other but with parents, their new “teacher colleague.” For disadvantaged students, they too are affected by school closings in myriad ways including no access to technology, parents’ working outside of the home, or limited financial resources or parental support, further creating educational inequity inherent in U.S. schools.

The Value of Being an AACTE Volunteer

AACTE Board Meeting

Here is your opportunity to engage with AACTE! The Association is currently accepting 2021 Annual Meeting session proposals and reviewer applications, nominations to serve on AACTE Committees, 2021 award nominations, and voting on revisions to the Association’s bylaws and articles of incorporation. With so many opportunities available, will you answer the call to serve the profession?

Each call to action has its own deadline, so be sure to mark your calendar and click on the links below for more information:

Revolutionizing Education

AACTE DEI Video: Promoting Equal Access to Quality Teachers

AACTE DEI Video: Promoting Equal Access to Quality Teachers

Ed Prep Matters features the “Revolutionizing Education” column to spotlight the many ways AACTE, member institutions, and partners are pioneering leading-edge research, models, strategies and programs that focus on the three core values outlined in the current AACTE strategic plan: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; Quality and Impact; and Inquiry and Innovation.

In celebration of National Teacher Appreciation Week, May 4-8, AACTE spotlights “Promoting Equal Access to Quality Teachers,” as the next segment in its Diversity, Equity and Inclusion video series, In this video, AACTE leaders discuss the important role effective teachers have in student learning and achievement, and advocate for poor communities to be given equal access to high quality educators. With the recent disruption in education caused by the coronavirus, several inequities regarding equal access to quality instruction has come to light as well as the important role teachers have in student learning. AACTE members are committed to producing high quality educators for the 21st century learner and strongly believe all students should have access to excellent teachers.

Will Voucher Initiatives Prevail?

This blog post is written by AACTE consultant Jane West and is intended to provide updated information. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of AACTE.

Senate to Reconvene May 4 as House Stays Home—Mostly

Congress has been on recess for a month leaving a scant few Members in town to hold down the fort. This week both the House and Senate announced they would return full force on May 4, but only a day later, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) retracted the announcement for the House saying the Capitol physician advised against it. Members are still regrouping from the whiplash announcement and retraction—assessing the political fallout—but relieved about the health risks had they returned. 

Sen. McConnell (R-KY), Senate Majority Leader, has not backed down despite push back from several Senators, and the full Senate is scheduled to be in town May 4. They will likely be in town until May 22, recessing for Memorial Day. Many unanswered questions remain.  Will staff be required to report to work? Will social distancing be enforced? What are the cleaning procedures for office spaces and the Capitol? Will masks and gloves be worn? We shall see.

Beware the Solution That Is Not About the Problem: Reflections on Education and the COVID-19 Shock

Empty classroom

A horizontal image of an empty primary school classroom. The setting is typically British.

In the last few weeks U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has put forward three initiatives intended to privatize the provision of public education. Given her long known and widely declared conviction that vouchers and related schemes to deliver public dollars into private hands are the panacea for all that ails education, this is not surprising. Watching her leap into the breach caused by the COVID-19 emergency is troubling, though not unexpected.

In her book, Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism (2007), Naomi Kline describes the phenomenon of a crisis precipitating the redistribution of public dollars into the waiting hands of private players who offer a seemingly undeniable remedy. Years earlier, economist Milton Friedman popularized the notion that only a crisis produces real change, enabling reforms that were not previously thought possible. “When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around. That, I believe, is our basic function: to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes the politically inevitable,” wrote Friedman in Capitalism and Freedom (1962, ix). Kline’s research led her to coin the term “disaster capitalism,” which she describes as “orchestrated raids on the public sphere in the wake of catastrophic events, combined with the treatment of disasters as exciting market opportunities.” (6)

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