AACTE Responds to COVID-19
This article original appeared on the University of Washington website and is reprinted with permission.
For future teachers, the beginning of their preparation program is marked by trepidation in the best of times. Even as teacher candidates learn the skills of effective teaching, how to attend to the overall wellbeing of students and much more, many are getting their first real experience leading a classroom.
When the COVID-19 pandemic precipitated the closing of all schools across Washington state in early March, that trepidation became even more acute for teacher candidates starting their studies in the University of Washington College of Education’s Secondary Teacher Education Program (STEP) later that month.
STEP Director Anne Beitlers said the first priority for the program was creating a sense of community.
The COVID-19 pandemic has made home settings an essential and, in many cases, the only place of formal learning for students. This shift has pulled parents, caretakers, and other family members even closer to the education of young people as they assume the work of schooling that has been substantially reconfigured by both the pandemic and online platforms. However, in faculties of education, homeschooling is often marginalized with limited funded research (Howell, 2013). Additionally, as Kennedy and Archambault (2012) argue, teacher education programs should have been taking a more proactive role in terms of K-12 online learning with a focus not simply on the technology (Ko & Rossen, 2017), but on the unique aspects of the pedagogy associated with this mode of instruction. Teachers may be ill-prepared to deliver online content, and many families are overwhelmed by the shift in the learning environment. The long-term impacts of this shift are unknown. Yet this uncertainty reasserts opportunities to both (1) leverage home and community settings as reservoirs of knowledge deserving greater attention for teachers and teacher educators and (2) consider how educational technology can be used to support pedagogies that are more centered on students’ interests, assets, and needs (Means et al, 2013).
How Virtual Classrooms Can Help Train Preservice Candidates
“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 Responds to COVID-19
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.
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.
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.
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.
AACTE Responds to COVID-19
The response to COVID-19 has impacted virtually every industry in this unprecedented time, and the publishing industry is no exception. Here at SAGE Publishing, proud partner of AACTE and publisher of the Journal of Teacher Education, we’ve focused our response on supporting the higher education teaching and research communities we serve as we navigate this difficult time together.
We are committed to doing what we can to support the researchers, teachers, and students in our community. We know that the work of the research and teaching community will be critical to addressing the challenge of COVID-19, and we’re happy to share the resources we have with the readership of the Ed Prep Matters blog.
AACTE Responds to COVID-19
The following AACTE Statement was sent to the National Governors Association.
During the health emergency of COVID-19, AACTE is encouraging its members, as well as states and districts, to explore partnerships between district and educator preparation programs to address the increased workforce demands for special educators in our nation’s schools. In particular, we urge stakeholders to
Identify opportunities for special education teacher candidates to continue their contributions to educational opportunities for students with disabilities (e.g. clinical practice opportunities or paraprofessionals in temporary positions) for the duration of the impact of COVID-19 on our school system.