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Congress Begins to Reconvene: What’s Next for COVID-19 Relief Funding?

AACTE Responds to COVID-19

Financial aid concept, Life buoy lifebelt with money bagThis 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 Reconvenes in Person; House Next Week?

The Senate reconvened in person this week despite warnings from medical experts and despite the fact that the DC area remains a COVID-19 hot spot.  In order to enable this convening without it violating emergency limitations on large gatherings, the Mayor of DC—Muriel Bowser—anointed members of Congress as “essential workers,” bringing them into the ranks of grocery store workers and front line health care personnel.  

New to the Capitol were plexiglass shields, boxes of masks and hand sanitizer. COVID-19 testing for all Members was made available by President Trump, but in a rare bipartisan move declined by both House Speaker Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader McConnell (R-KY). They recommended that the tests be prioritized for front line workers.

New Webinar on Member Responses to the Coronavirus Pandemic

AACTE Responds to COVID-19

Last week, I reported on results of a survey that AACTE conducted in April to better understand and assist members as they respond to the coronavirus pandemic.  The survey yielded 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.

On May 27 from 4:00 – 5:00 p.m. ET, AACTE is hosting a webinar on the survey results. During this session, you will be able to

  • review the survey results
  • benchmark your experience against that of your colleagues
  • discuss the challenges you are facing—and how you are overcoming them—with your colleagues

Joining me to discuss the survey results will be Cynthia F. Grutzik, dean of the Graduate College of Education at San Francisco State University; John A. Kuykendall III, dean of the School of Education at University of Indianapolis; and Timothy J. Wall, professor and dean of the School of Education at Northwest Missouri State University.

Register today to join this important conversation about the impact of the coronavirus and how AACTE can help you and your students during these challenging times.  For those unable to attend on May 27, a recording of the session will be posted to the AACTE website.

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.

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.

An Inside Look at How Educators Are Adapting to the Coronavirus Crisis

This article originally appeared on the Touro College Graduate School of Education News site and is reprinted with permission.

My experience during this pandemic has been surreal. As the director of early childhood education for District 31 at The Richmond Pre-K Center, part of NYC’s Department of Education, I never imagined I’d be leading and making vital decisions related to COVID-19. 

My staff and I had to immediately shift our way of thinking in order to perform our responsibilities in a new way. As educators, practicing social distancing during a pandemic while implementing digital learning with our 3-K and pre-K students is overwhelming. Grappling with this reality, we quickly implemented the word “flexibility” into our vocabulary and adapted to our new normal, accepting that things around us are changing by the minute. Being flexible gives us the opportunity to leverage the power of our emotional intelligence in order to stay grounded and focus our minds on building the future.

I applaud my district leaders and staff for leveraging their innovative skills to go above and beyond the call of duty and utilizing technology, including Microsoft Teams and Google Classrooms, to get our very important job done efficiently and effectively. We keep our students engaged by enabling them to interact directly with their teachers and fellow classmates via these virtual platforms in discussions on various topics. During our virtual meetings, our teachers create visual simulations of their classroom environment in order to deliver critical instruction, host live read aloud sessions, post videos of various activities, and lead singing and movement sessions for students to follow along with. Our teachers also model how to complete a variety of tasks related to science, literacy, writing, art, and math projects during these meetings.

Together as one, albeit separated by distance, we’re strategically maximizing the impact of education for our children during this unprecedented time.

Lunch and Learn with AACTE and CEEDAR: Ed Prep Programs and Local Education Agency Partnerships

AACTE Responds to COVID-19

Lunch and Learn Sign,

AACTE members across the country are seeking novel ways to approach clinical practice, observation hours, and practicum expectations for their teacher candidates in order to address the nation’s need for an excellent teaching workforce in our PK-12 schools during COVID-19. AACTE and CEEDAR will co-host a second Lunch and Learn focused on strategies for leveraging partnerships in innovative ways to facilitate new opportunities to learn May 1, 2020, 1:00-1:30 p.m. ET.

Education leaders from Ohio, including our AACTE Board Member and associate dean of Bowling Green State University (BGSU), Mary Murray, will provide examples of educator preparation faculty and district partnerships that are adapting instructional modalities for students with the help of teacher candidates. From early childhood to secondary content areas, including special education, candidates are supporting their district partners through the development of lessons, online tutoring, supporting parents in their navigation of distance learning, and direct instruction online.

Join us to learn how you might apply these practices in your own context. Register now for Just-in-Time Strategies for Leveraging EPP-LEA Partnerships.

Transitioning Your Education Preparation Program Online: Decision Making Opportunities for Education Leaders

AACTE Responds to COVID-19

AACTE and ISTE invite you to customize your learning during a 45-minute webinar on navigating the shift to online teaching on May 6, at 1:00 p.m. ET.

Successfully transitioning to a fully online summer or fall semester will require expedient decision-making, thoughtful approaches, and awareness of the challenges that lay ahead. In this webinar, university leaders who have already transitioned to online learning will share what they learned learnings and answer your questions about making a similar shift for your program.

The intention of this webinar is to provide educator preparation program leaders with an opportunity to “customize” the learning experience by selecting one of three breakout rooms. The three breakouts will focus on different levels of familiarity with online learning. An AACTE leader proficient in transitioning to online learning and an ISTE leader, a veteran innovator who has been using technology to transform learning, will lead each breakout.

Register today for Transitioning Your Education Preparation Program Online: Decision Making Opportunities for Education Leaders.

Teaching in a Time of Crisis Highlights the Need for New Standards

Distance learning. Cheerful little girl using laptop computer studying through online e-learning system

The morning of March 12, 2020 at the school where I had just started student teaching, teachers were directed to prepare 10 days’ worth of learning material for students in anticipation of the schools being closed for a period of two weeks due to the coronavirus. This was initially hoped to be a brief interlude—like an extended spring break—and while it was expected that students might or might not complete their learning activities at home, any minor losses in progress would surely be made up when the students returned to school in early April.

As time went on and it was clear that school could not resume as planned, decisions had to be made about remote learning—what it would look like, what expectations could be placed on students, and many other big and small decisions. In special education, these decisions have the legal considerations of students’ IEPs. Compliance with IEPs is evidenced in data collection and benchmark assessments, and the procedures to collect data and administer assessments must be consistent for validity.

When will Educators Receive COVID Relief Funding?

CARES Act

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.

Implementation of the $2 Trillion CARES Act: Where Do We Stand?

It’s hard to keep track of the swirl of information about federal efforts to address the pandemic in the education space. Here is my best shot at a high-level summary of where things stand:

  • It’s been three weeks since the $2 trillion third package of funding (COVID-3 or the CARES Act) became law
  • The bill includes the following and distribution to date is as noted:
    • $13.5 billion for elementary and secondary education
      • No announced process or timeline for distribution yet
    • $14.25 billion for higher education
      • $6.3 billion is being distributed to IHE’s for students who need emergency financial aid and have expenses related to the pandemic
    • $3 billion for a Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund
      • fund now available for distribution

CARES Act: Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund Supporting Students

AACTE Responds to COVID-19

CARES Act

The CARES Act, signed into law on March 27, 2020, included nearly $14 billion to support higher education institutions and students. This funding included $6.28 billion to provide cash grants to students for expenses related to disruptions to their education due to COVID-19. The funds move from the U.S. Department of Education to the institutions of higher education, and the institutions disperse the funds to students.

The allocation to each institution is set by a formula established in the CARES Act, weighted by the number of full-time students with Pell grants but also considers the total population of the school and the number of students who were not enrolled full-time in online programs pre-COVID-19. (View the methodology. It is important to note that this initial disbursement is for 50% of what is in the allocation table.) The institution must fill out a Certificate of Agreement with the Department to receive the disbursement via grants.gov. U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos wrote a letter to college and university presidents sharing guidance on this disbursement.

University of Florida Literacy Institute Launches Online Resource Hubs for Teachers and Parents

In response to the need to support teachers in their rapid shift to online instruction, the University of Florida Literacy Institute has created online resources to help ease that transition. UFLI realized that they could take their extensive body of research, successful data-driven interventions, and carefully vetted resources, and create virtual versions of the face-to-face work they have always done.

The outcome? Two new online “resource hubs”: one for parents to learn more about how to support their children’s literacy development, and one for teachers to discover effective, easy-to-use methods for providing reading instruction and intervention in an online delivery model.

We developed our Dyslexia Resource Hub in the fall and had plans to create additional resource hubs for parents and for teachers, but this situation gave us the impetus to push fast forward and get it done very quickly. UFLI faculty, staff, and graduate students worked tirelessly to make both hubs launch-ready as school closures made them more necessary than ever.

Register for April 15 Webinar: Uncovering Lessons Learned and Strategies for Higher Education During COVID-19 Pandemic

AACTE Responds to COVID-19

 

AACTE logo | Old Dominion University logo

There is only one day left to register for the AACTE and Old Dominion University co-sponsored webinar featuring education faculty advising world nations on COVID-19, Wednesday, April 15 from 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. The 60-minute webinar is open to all AACTE members.

The webinar, “Uncovering Lessons Learned and Strategies for Higher Education During COVID-19 Pandemic,” will feature President and CEO Lynn M. Gangone in an interview with Helen Crompton, associate professor from the Darden College of Education and Professional Studies at AACTE member institution Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA. She will address pressing questions such as

  • How is education being disrupted globally?
  • What are lessons learned from China and other countries about how they are managing the impacts of the coronavirus on education?
  • What can universities do to improve the social impact and reduce isolation for college students?
  • How can universities advance equitable access to online instruction for disadvantaged students?
  • What are best practices for faculty transitioning to teaching online?
  • What are recommended education technology tools and other resources to help stay connected with students?

AACTE Joins CEEDAR in Hosting Lunch and Learn on Credentialing

AACTE Responds to COVID-19

Lunch and Learn & computer keyboard AACTE is proud to partner with The CEEDAR Center to bring you two 30-minute “lunch and learn” webinars on

  • licensure and certification requirements
  • EPP and district partnerships

We know your time is coveted, so these sessions are tailored to focus on strategies and models of best practice to solve immediate challenges.

The first Lunch and Learn will be hosted on April 17 at 1:00 p.m. ET. Registration is open to the public. AACTE, the CEEDAR Center, and partners from the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NSADTEC) will share national and state-level information and strategies in response to the current demand. Panelists include the following:

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