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COVID-19 Education Coalition Releases IHE Resources

Learning Keeps Going CoalitionIn early spring of 2020, AACTE joined ISTE’s LearningKeepsGoing Coalition. The Coalition subcommittees include Higher Education, of which I co-chair along with AACTE Innovation and Technology Committee Co-Chair David Slykhuis.

Each subcommittee developed resources that address the COVID19 pandemic in our nation’s public schools. The Coalition recently released two new resources for Institutions of Higher Education Educator Prep Programs and teacher candidates! The resources target different audiences. The student agency infographic is a resource for educator candidates and educator preparation faculty. As colleges and universities develop online course offerings, candidates are faced with learning how to access and benefit from online instruction. The infographic begins by amplifying five areas of student agency. Ten strategies guide students to advocate for online learning supports, use their own assets, and seek our mentors, to name a few. Students can also take an online learning readiness assessment to determine their preparedness for online instruction. Educator preparation faculty and staff are encouraged to disseminate this infographic to candidates who are learning online.

Uninterrupted Support in an Interrupted Semester

This is Part 1 of an article by Hannah Reeder and Betsy Rosenbalm of Appalachian State University in which they share how they had to pivot student teaching and new teacher preparation during the spring 2020 semester as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Teacher is helping one of her primary school students in the classroom. They are sitting at a table using a digital tablet.

When schools suddenly closed in March of 2020, student teachers and beginning teachers quickly shifted their newly learned pedagogical skills to deliver instruction and grow professionally almost solely by virtual means. The Office of Field Experiences and the Public School Partnership in the Reich College of Education at Appalachian State University supplied an uninterrupted flow of resources, professional development, and interaction with professional educators in the field.  This shifted from pivoting out of necessity to attempting to disrupt the status quo.  We were quickly introduced to “our new normal”!

Appalachian State University has18 teacher education programs and produces about 450-500 teachers each year. During the student teaching semester, teacher candidates are placed in 45 districts across the state of North Carolina and supervision is conducted by 30-40 part-time University Field Supervisors.

The Public School Partnership provides support, professional development, and resources to 12 school districts in the northwest region of North Carolina. The NC New Teacher Support Program is housed in the Public School Partnership. This program provides weekly coaching and regular professional development to teachers in their first, second, or third years of teaching in those same districts within our area of the state. 

Participatory Action Research in a Pandemic

Revolutionizing Education

Christine Gentry
The culminating course of the NYU Teacher Residency focuses on a year-long participatory action research (PAR) journey residents take with a small group of students. PAR is a collaborative, iterative process of inquiry and action in response to an organizational or community problem. Residents and their students work as a team to identify a problem of practice, research that problem of practice, craft action and data collection plans, implement those plans, and then evaluate their impact through analysis of gathered data. In presentations at the end of the course, residents reflect on the entire process and how it helped develop student agency, advocacy, and voice as well as their own leadership. It is the faculty’s hope that during the PAR journey, residents practice radical listening and how to be mindful learners and leaders.

In March 2020, COVID-19 entered the residents’ PAR experience like a wrecking ball. I gathered with the other PAR instructors to decide how we were going to adjust the project for our residents, considering the radical change in access both to physical spaces and to the students in the PAR teams. We ultimately decided to offer the residents two choices: a reflective path, in which they could craft a presentation on their team’s original plan and the progress they were able to make pre-COVID, and a virtual pilot path, in which they could adjust their projects to the virtual space we all suddenly found ourselves in. Understandably, most residents chose to pursue the reflective path, but one resident, Lorraine Zhong, and her team of students chose to continue their project virtually. Her project is a model for how the PAR instructors in the NYU Teacher Residency will be approaching the project this year, with COVID-19’s grip still firmly on our schools. Her journey is a beautiful example of the transformative power of PAR—its ability to strengthen relationships, build student investment, and spark meaningful change—even in the face of this new and terribly difficult time for our schools.

I’ll let her take it from here.

The Critical Need for Pause in the COVID-19 Era

This article originally appeared in the AACTE Journal of Teacher Education (JTE) and is co-authored by Gail Richmond, Christine Cho, H. Alix Gallagher, Ye He,  and Emery Petchauery.

The unprecedented health crisis caused by the spread of the novel coronavirus has resulted in innumerable complications and challenges with respect to schooling in the United States and globally. With the closure of schools, parents and guardians and often older siblings have had to oversee the learning of younger, school-aged children. One consequence of what might be called “emergency teaching” or “crisis schooling” has been a recognition, largely by those thrust into such roles of how hard this oversight actually is and a call for more respect and recognition for classroom teachers. Most frequently, this call for recognition and respect has actually been in the form of a recommendation for higher pay. While such an expression of support is laudable, it once again reveals a lack of deep understanding on the part of the general public about the substantial and specialized knowledge and skills teachers need and the scope of their work as effective classroom educators.

While we have learned much about the specialized knowledge and skills that teachers must have to be effective (e.g., Phelps, 2009; Shulman, 1986), given how teaching and learning are unfolding during this COVID-19 “era,” there is much that we need to understand better about these processes (Richmond et al., 2020). At the time in which we are writing this editorial, two such examples include (a) the knowledge for online, face-to-face, or hybrid teaching and learning and (b) the cognitive, social, and emotional transitions for students (and for some, substantial trauma) to new learning platforms and different learning dynamics. There is also much to understand about the specific kinds of supports for students and for teachers that are necessary to maximize effective learning. Despite these needs, the novelty of the pandemic and the conditions students, educators, leaders, and scholars are living through call for a particular kind of pause. In this editorial, we (a) unpack this pause and the relationship to the production of academic scholarship, (b) direct scholars to the complexity of conditions unfolding during 2020–2021 academic years, and (c) encourage action-reflection as an integral part of the research process.

Educational Leadership Students Create 388-page Re-entry Plan

“In early March of 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic began to wreak havoc on every aspect of life as we all knew it. Events were cancelled, businesses began to close, and classrooms became virtual spaces. The world looked and felt very different from anything we had ever known,” wrote Carolyn Gassman, Butler University graduate student.

The Experiential Program for Preparing School Principals (EPPSP), an educational leadership graduate program at Butler University in Indianapolis, Indiana, canceled their summer 2020 research and study abroad learning experience to Italy due to Covid-19.  EPPSP Students, practicing school teachers and educators, understood the complexity of returning to a physical building in the fall 2020 and wanted to support school leaders as they transitioned back to school.

EPPSP’s 40-year history includes experiential and relevant learning opportunities along with proficiencies that allow students to engage in real-life school leadership practices.  Nationally, school leaders began developing re-entry plans and Indiana leaders were conducting plans of their own.

Teacher Candidates in Online Programs Are Well Positioned To Teach Virtually During COVID-19

When the COVID-19 pandemic began, many teachers, students, and parents rushed to navigate online learning. Some schools may reopen with social distancing guidelines in place, while others may incorporate a virtual component. To limit COVID-19 exposure while maintaining the quality of education for students, educators will need to embrace online instruction.

Navigating new technology can be a big hurdle for veteran teachers. As many school districts are announcing plans to incorporate virtual learning for the upcoming school year, there will be little time for teachers to prepare. Seasoned educators will need a lot of training to master remote instruction and help their students succeed.

Teacher candidates enrolled in online programs can help bridge the gap. These candidates have developed technology skills and experienced asynchronous learning, which puts them in a great position to pivot to remote teaching. With 50 years of experience in distance education and online learning, Walden University faculty are prepared to provide teacher candidates with the knowledge and experience needed for online instruction in PreK-12 schools. Walden even helps teacher candidates develop and practice their skills for the classroom through virtual reality training simulations.

Cancel Field Experiences and Student Teaching in the Fall (and possibly Spring)

The following article is Part 1 of an article by AACTE member Alexander Cuenca in which he highlights the tensions involved in continuing student teaching in the fall and shares a guidepost for educator preparation programs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In this post, I explore how the unexamined inertia of “experience” in teacher education contributes to the hesitation of teacher education decision-makers to cancel field experiences and student teaching in the fall. Canceling field experiences and student teaching in the fall is the most responsible decision. Primarily, because even a basic understanding of the germ theory of disease during a pandemic should be enough of a rationale. However, because higher education is ensconced in the same neoliberal rationales that led to the premature opening of private and public enterprise over the last few months, teacher education programs must navigate public policy on their own. Of course, with all of the uncertainty that has been created by the response in the United States to COVID-19, I don’t pretend to know what is best for every single teacher education program. Field experiences are entangled in state licensure and certification regulations, institutional scheduling issues, and school and university partnership agreements. However, operating from the position that COVID-19 continues to pose a substantial risk to the health and well-being of students, teachers, school staff, and student teachers, I hope to provide pause for those who believe that field experiences and the student teaching experience must go on.

COVID-19 Education Coalition Members Provide Guidance for District Leaders

The effects of COVID-19 on students and families require district leaders to collaborate with local stakeholders — including administrators, classroom teachers, school support staff, parents, and students — to plan strategic actions that allow digital learning to effectively and equitably continue into the summer and beyond. 

The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), Turnaround for Children, the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD), the Future of Privacy Forum (FPF), and the New Hampshire Society for Technology in Education (NHSTE) — who are members of the broader COVID-19 Education Coalition —  provide three key considerations that districts must keep in mind as they build immediate and long-term plans: equitable infrastructure, active digital learning content, and educator capacity building.

View this new resource: Providing Effective and Equitable Digital Learning for all Students: Key Considerations for Districts.

UCF Consortium hosts Virtual Professional Learning Community sessions in response to COVID 19

Consortium for Future Educators @ UCF

The past several months have gone by in a blur for the world as rushed plans were created in response to the Coronavirus pandemic. There were many questions that surrounded education. How would we transition to an online learning platform? How would we ensure all students had equal access to devices and the internet? How would we reach students’ social-emotional needs?

Another challenge facing school districts was how to best support teachers. The short turnaround time that brick and mortar districts had to transition into online schools was a daunting task! How would professional development be facilitated? How would the delivery be and when/how would they require teachers to complete the training?

Student Teachers Learned Intense Lessons Under COVID-19

 This article originally appeared in The Free Press and is reprinted with permission.

Jean Harr

While the pandemic has brought disruption to daily lives, it has reminded us of the important role teachers play in their students’ lives. Teachers are hardworking, dedicated and effective. Recently, the irreplaceable nature of their work has been reaffirmed by millions of students and their parents.

Teachers not only promote learning, help students make connections and nurture their confidence, they also selflessly contribute to preparing the next generation of educators.

Minnesota State University has been preparing teachers for over 150 years and has had a long history of collaboration with its PK-12 partnership school districts. The university and the partnering school districts blend in-depth preparation with relevant practices and authentic experiences to ensure teacher candidates are prepared to meet the learning needs of all students.

During COVID-19 and Beyond: Utilizing Video to Support Teacher Candidates

Bryan CarterIn 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.[1] According to the findings of a state workgroup in which I participated, this trend is even more pronounced among rural and remote school districts.[2] 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.

Moving Educator Preparation Forward During the Pandemic

Girl studying homework online lesson at home, Social distance on

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.”

AACTE Co-Leads Higher Education Subcommittee of ISTE COVID-19 Coalition

AACTE Responds to COVID-19

Education CoalitionAs 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:

Finding the Best Approximations of Practice in the Era of COVID-19: Video Analysis and FAVSTE

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.

New Reality for Teacher Training: KSU Lab Simulates Classroom Experiences Amidst School Shutdowns

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.”

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