As our education system continues to provide online learning in the wake of the pandemic, all learning institutions will need to consider the element of equitable access to technology for their students. In the past, increasing our student’s digital access in online and blended learning environments has been on the shoulders of families as opposed to schools. Now that technology is being leveraged for learning in our school systems, low-and moderate-income (LMI) youth need education leaders to build the capability or partner with institutions that can support computers, broadband, and technological support access.
The National Center on Digital Equity in collaboration with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), is hosting a series of webinars titled “Community Reinvestment Act, Digital Equity and Systemic Inclusion.” In this four-part series, the FDIC will walk participants through systemic approaches that advance digital equity in LMI communities in support of financial and economic inclusion. With the immediate shift to online learning within our education system, this series brings our focus to stabilizing LMI youth and their communities.
AACTE Board members Marvin Lynn and Laurie Mullen recently met with me to discuss the important role education leaders play in crises. In the videos, Lynn and Mullen shared the following:
“I think what we’re seeing happen at the national level is that inequalities are being exacerbated because of not only the lack of attention to those inequalities in the first place but [also] a kind of callousness around what those issues are, and who’s impacted and whether or not we should be focusing on them. I think leaders have an opportunity to take a crisis and turn it on its head by really focusing on issues of equity,” said Marvin Lynn, dean of the college of education at Portland State University. Lynn possesses decades of leadership and community service experience on prestigious national, state, and local committees. His leadership experience in schools of education includes his role as program coordinator at the University of Maryland and later at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Lynn also was the associate dean at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and dean of the School of Education at Indiana University South Bend.
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, teacher preparation programs are faced with the difficulty of how to support and evaluate candidates in the field. Here in Washington state, we already face a shortage of willing mentors to host our candidates. A recent study by Western Washington University and my colleagues at the University of Washington estimated that only 3-4% of teachers serve as mentors any given year. According to the findings of a state workgroup in which I participated, this trend is even more pronounced among rural and remote school districts. As a result, programs throughout our state are looking for effective ways to further support our candidates in the field, particularly in rural and remote areas.
One solution that is effective and can support efforts to maintain teacher certifications, including during the pandemic, is the use of online observations. We began using Edthena in 2015, and over the last 5 years, we have witnessed tremendous success and accessibility, especially for candidates in rural and remote school districts. We utilize Edthena’s platform as part of multiple measures to assess candidates in field placements. Field supervisors can use the online video tool in conjunction with traditional in-person observations, providing a nice mixture of evidence for our program to assess our candidates’ readiness towards licensure. Here are some of the highlights of our experience using online video observations.
(June 3, 2020, Washington, D.C.) – Education leaders’ outlook for the 2020-21 academic year anticipates a widening gap in the supply of new teachers, according to the April 2020 survey conducted by the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE). The findings show 23% of respondents expect a decline in continuing education student enrollment of more than 10%, and 40% expect such a decline among new students. The study on how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting educator preparation programs was based on nearly 200 responses from individuals in leadership roles at colleges of education.
“Our survey examines the critical demands in teacher preparation as we continue to navigate the global health pandemic and prepare for the academic year beginning in the fall,” said Lynn M. Gangone, AACTE president and CEO. “The data generated in this report provide important benchmarks for building the teaching workforce. We view these findings as an important indicator of the increased challenges ahead and key factors for prioritizing our efforts to move our profession forward.”
COVID-19 has forced educators to say goodbye to their classrooms and embrace adapting their pedagogy to online formats overnight. They have learned new technology, found creative ways to engage students remotely, and most importantly, kept education moving forward. The current public health crisis has placed a well-deserved spotlight on teachers. As parents struggle to balance work, supervise virtual classrooms, and co-educate their children, a new awareness and appreciation for the influence, power, and value of great teachers has emerged.
We have all read headlines about COVID-19’s drastic impact on the education system. We have seen firsthand the pandemic’s sweeping effect on our education institutions and students. And we have all been challenged to find remote learning opportunities that ensure teacher candidates are well-prepared to enter their own classrooms—whether in-person, hybrid, or virtual. While the hurdles we face are multidimensional, overcoming them is essential. To quote Linda Darling-Hammond, “If you don’t have a strong supply of well-prepared teachers, nothing else in education can work.”
According to the 2017 Workplace Learning Report, over 50% of learning professionals say that developing strong leaders is the number one objective for their organization. Coaching, communication, and collaboration top the list of skills for leaders, and large organizations report communication skills are more in demand than technical skills. This applies not only to companies’ employees but also for preparing teachers—who need to be adept at having high stakes conversations with their students, peers, administrators and students’ parents and guardians. Now add to that mix a public health crisis that has forced the issue of training while working from home (WFH).
In this white paper ,“Best in Class Leadership Development: How Virtual Reality and Avatars are Changing the Learning Landscape,” you will learn about modern, remote learning experiences that harness today’s technology to affect real behavior change. Backed by research, and no longer novel, simulations and use of avatars to assist learning is playing an increasingly major role in improving human interactions. Here is an outline of the white paper:
AACTE Responds to COVID-19
As every educator in the country can attest, effectively leveraging technology in our classrooms, both in the virtual and brick and mortar environment, is paramount. To support our members, earlier this spring AACTE joined more than 70 education organizations in the COVID-19 Education Coalition formed by the International Society of Technology in Education (ISTE). The Coalition’s purpose is curate, create, and deliver high-quality tools and support for educators as they keep the learning going during extended school closures caused by the global pandemic. ISTE and coalition members have launched LearningKeepsGoing.org, a free, online portal with resources for educators and a help desk with experts from across the country to provide real-time support to educators. LearningKeepsGoing.org will also list weekly webinars, offering educators and administrators direct access to national experts.
As AACTE’s assistant vice president of programs and professional learning, I am co-leading the Higher Education subcommittee of the Coalition with David Sykhuis, assistant dean of the College of Natural and Health Sciences, AACTE Innovation and Technology co-chair, and chair of the National Technology Leadership Summit. Members of the subcommittee include:
COVID-19 challenges all of us in teacher education to reimagine how to prepare our candidates for the complexity of teaching when they cannot be placed in authentic classroom contexts. Our responses to this challenge will likely require us to stretch the “approximations of practice” that Grossman et al. (2009) described. One strategy that might offer us a means for executing this stretch is video analysis. However, for video analysis to be a meaningful approximation of practice, teacher educators need both useful video case resources and the tools to support candidates’ exploration of these cases.
A group of science teacher educators from across the country has been using the ATLAS library as our main video case resource and the Framework for Analyzing Video in Science Teacher Education (FAVSTE) as our tool for maximizing the learning from these cases. ATLAS has videos (generally 15 -20 minutes in duration) submitted by teachers applying for National Board certification, along with the commentary (Instructional Context, Planning, Analysis, Reflection) associated with the videos. This allows teacher candidates to both see the action occurring in actual classrooms and then read about the thinking of the teacher before and after the lesson that produced that action.
This article originally appeared on the Kennesaw State University news site and is reprinted with permission.
The Bagwell College of Education’s mixed-reality avatar lab simulates a multitude of situations that teachers can experience, but Kennesaw State faculty probably didn’t envision that one of those scenarios would be providing field experience for teacher candidates during a real-life pandemic.
After universities and PK-12 school systems throughout Georgia transitioned from classroom courses to remote learning last month, the Bagwell College and the Department of Inclusive Education configured the avatar lab for remote access. Unable to be in their actual classrooms, student teachers and master’s candidates have been utilizing the avatar lab online to simulate teaching to a group of students.
“Our teacher candidates are able to take the lesson that they were supposed to teach in the real classroom and do it in our avatar lab, from the comfort of their home,” said Kate Zimmer, an associate professor of special education and the director of the avatar lab. “By no means are we saying that the lab should replace field experience, but, especially in times like these, it definitely makes a difference and helps prepare the best teacher candidates we can.”
AACTE Responds to COVID-19
As part of its continued efforts to inform members about the latest developments regarding educator preparation programs (EPPs) in light of COVID-19, AACTE has updated its Policy Tracker Map to reflect recent changes in EPP-specific state guidance and recommendations. These changes include guidance analysis of 12 new states, specifically Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Maryland, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Nevada, South Dakota, North Dakota, and Wyoming. We have also updated data for New Jersey, which recently issued new guidance waiving edTPA.
In the coming weeks and months, as agency guidance is supplemented by the supporting instructions and recommendations of other state entities, such as the legislature and regulatory bodies, the information and features of this interactive map will grow to accommodate those developments.