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Senate Debates Funding for Re-opening Schools

Students wearing masks outside school building

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.

Action Expected in July on Next COVID Relief Bill: Education in the Crosshairs

Beginning next week, we expect to see the Senate take up the next COVID relief bill.  The House has passed their version of the bill and Senate Democrats have introduced their version of the bill, so the next move is up Senate Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).  His bill may be unveiled next week.

Education has become a high profile and contentious matter for this bill, as the president has determined that the economy cannot move forward unless schools are fully open in person so that parents and college employees (and workers in related businesses) can return to work in person. Multiple agendas are woven through this debate, which will become even more prominent as decisions are made about whether to apply conditions to any further COVID relief funding for education. 

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.

Virtual Simulations to Support Practice-Based Opportunities

Mursion Virtual Classroom

In March, when news of the coronavirus began to spread, one of our first tasks was to decide what to do with the hundreds of candidates who were in schools completing clinical experiences. This was new territory for everyone and no procedures for this type of situation had ever been developed. The decision was made to continue full-time internships, but all other field-based work was halted to allow P-12 teachers to focus on their own instruction and students. Through the strong partnerships we have with our school districts, we were able to navigate the situation and successfully graduate over 400 interns Spring 2020.

As we plan for the fall semester, while we now have some experience and advanced knowledge of the situation, the P-12 landscape will be even more varied—both within and across school districts. It has quickly become apparent that we will need to supplement our field-based work in other ways. We are assembling a range of options, including organizing a video repository, creating data-rich case studies from previous assignments, and building a tutoring network to offer virtual tutoring services to children in our local communities while simultaneously allowing candidates the opportunity to plan, implement, and evaluate their instruction. Another important option we will be utilizing to provide practice opportunities to candidates is SIMTeach@TU, our Mursion simulation system.

Equity At the Core: 9 Challenge Questions to Explore and Ensure Inclusion of Students with Disabilities in the Reopening and Recovery Planning Process

Equity at the Core

To support school leaders, teachers, students, and their families in coping with the changes brought by COVID-19, the Educating All Learners Alliance have worked with national experts and their 50-plus alliance partners, including AACTE, to develop a design process around nine critical questions to consider in reopening and recovery planning for fall 2020.

The equityatthecore.org microsite shares resources from partner organizations, hosts a discussion forum and outlines a design process to ensure that students with disabilities are not only a paragraph in the planning process but are at the center of the discussion about educating all learners to prioritize equity and inclusion.

AACTE members are encouraged to visit the site and explore this resource for administrators, teachers, and school communities. AACTE is proud to be a part of this uncommon alliance of organizations working with each other to support the recovery and reopening process. 

COVID-19 Education Coalition Supports the Coronavirus Child Care and Education Relief Act and Increases in Federal FY21 Education Appropriations

The undersigned members of the COVID-19 Education Coalition offer the following statement on the Coronavirus Child Care and Education Relief Act (CCCERA) and FY21 federal education appropriations:

As states and districts continue preparing for the upcoming school year, national data reveal the critical need to support educators’ capacity to deliver effective and equitable online learning experiences. For example, a recent survey revealed discrepancies in the quality of instruction available to students from higher-income versus low-income families. Although the CARES Act provided some federal dollars to support educator professional development, experts agree that the current education stabilization funds are inadequate to fully support schools, students, educators, and families through the COVID-19 global pandemic.

AACTE Statement on Federal Government Push to Reopen Schools Prematurely

On behalf of the Board of Directors of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE), President and CEO Lynn M. Gangone issued the following statement today regarding the Trump administration’s intent to withhold federal funds to force schools and universities to reopen with in-person education this fall:

“AACTE strongly opposes President Trump and U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’s efforts to force schools and universities to reopen prematurely. Preserving the health and safety of students and educators during COVID-19 is essential to effective teaching and learning. The Trump administration has directed state and local governments to bear the responsibility for developing and implementing policies and practices to protect their citizens during the pandemic. As such, institutions must be allowed to implement feasible and practical measures for reopening tailored to the needs of their local communities.

Federal funds should not be used as leverage to force schools and universities to provide in-person classes amidst the current surge of the coronavirus. Instead, federal funds must be allocated to aid colleges and universities in their recovery from the significant, financial challenges caused by the pandemic, to equip institutions with the proper tools to reduce the spread of coronavirus on their campuses, and to provide liability protection.

AACTE calls upon our nation to protect the health and well-being of those most vulnerable in our education communities and to implement bipartisan efforts that will strengthen school safety plans.”

Join the July 16 Town Hall: How Can We Safely Reopen Schools in the Fall?

The education community and parents are invited to join a virtual town hall to talk with health experts about the re-opening of schools in the fall. The event, hosted by a group of national education organizations, will take place Thursday, July 16 from 7:00 – 8:15 p.m. ET.

When COVID-19 began its slow spread across the country, schools in every state shut their doors to help flatten the curve—and they stayed closed for in-person instruction through the rest of the 2019–20 school year. While businesses and other industries are beginning to reopen, it’s clear that the economy relies on our public education system for true recovery.

Engage in Simulation Research with ETS and Mursion

Experiencing disruptions to your elementary mathematics or science methods courses due to COVID-19? We may be able to help!

ETS is currently recruiting teacher educators who will be teaching elementary mathematics or science methods courses in the fall 2020 semester to participate in a new NSF-funded study (#2032179). The study will provide simulated teaching practice through the Mursion® virtual environment to pre-service elementary teachers (PSETs) enrolled in your methods course.

The simulated teaching tasks used in the study focus on leading argumentation-focused discussions in either mathematics or science at the fifth-grade level. Teacher educators selected to participate will incorporate one simulated teaching task into their course as an assignment for their PSETs and will agree to participate in surveys and focus group interviews reflecting on their experience.

For a more detailed description, please follow this link, where you will also be able to apply. Applications close July 27.

Heather Howell is a research scientist at ETS.

 

AACTE Member Leaders Discuss Why Leadership and Partnerships Matter in Crises

Mary MurrayJohn HenningAACTE Board members John Henning and Mary Murray recently met with me to discuss why leadership and building partnerships matter during times of crises. In the videos, Henning and Murray shared the following:

“A key rule of a leader during difficult times is to unify people and bring them together around the problem. By helping them move forward, things can get done rapidly, which is important when change is occurring quickly. With rapid change, it’s also important for leaders to stay organized,” said John Henning, dean of the school of education at Monmouth University. Henning is an experienced educational practitioner, researcher, and leader. His primary research interests include practice-based teacher education, teacher development, instructional decision-making, and classroom discourse. He is also an active scholar and researcher, with more than 50 publications. His fourth book, titled Building Mentoring Capacity in Teacher Education: A Guide to Clinically-Based Teacher Education, was released in 2019 by Routledge. He served for more than 20 years as a high school teacher. Henning obtained an M.Ed. in vocational education and a Ph.D. in educational psychology from Kent State University in Ohio. He received a B.S. in general agriculture from The Penn State University.

Join Webinar on Virtual Reality Simulations for Ed Prep

Mursion Virtual ClassroomFace-to-face clinical field experience cancelled? Find out how teacher candidates can safely practice instructional strategies through virtual reality (VR) classrooms.

Join the AACTE and Mursion co-sponsored webinar, “Feasibility & Utility of Mixed Reality Simulations in Higher Education,” presented by guest speakers from AACTE and Kennesaw State University tomorrow, Tuesday, June 30 at 1:00 p.m. ET. The presenters will share their wealth of experience using mixed reality solutions and will engage in critical dialogue on the feasibility and utility of mixed reality simulations in higher education. You will discover how virtual simulations help teacher candidates develop high-leverage practices before entering real-world clinical experiences.

Will Congress Provide Support to Reopen Schools During COVID-19?

Student and Teacher in classroom wearing masks

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.

Re-opening Schools During COVID-19:  Will the Federal Government Help?  

The topic of reopening schools is demanding attention at all levels of government—both for K-12 and higher education. The questions far outnumber the answers and the keywords seems to be flexibility and local decision-making. With governors, public health agencies, state and local school leaders, parents, and teachers all weighing in, the web of perspectives is complex. Finding a path to ensure public safety, equity and access to effective education is the challenge of the day. And finding the money to do what needs to be done—and in the midst of a polarizing election cycle—is looking like a herculean task.    

This week, the House Committee on Education and Labor held its second hearing related to education and the pandemic, Inequities Exposed: How COVID-19 Widened Racial Inequities in Education, Health and the Workforce.  In his testimony about education, John B. King Jr, president and CEO of the Education Trust, highlighted ongoing inequities in both K-12 and higher education and how COVID-19 has exacerbated them.  He urged the federal government to act and recommended the following provisions for the next COVID-19 relief bill:

ISTE Hosts Summer Learning Academy for Educators and Teacher Candidates

ISTE Summer Learning AcademyAs we look toward fall 2020, it is clear that PK-12 schools will continue to use some blend of online and face-to-face learning as they deal with social distancing requirements and a possible resurge of COVID-19 cases. Teaching effectively with technology is now an essential competency for all educators.

This summer provides a window of opportunity to deepen teacher candidates’ ability to effectively use technology to support learning. But that shift will not happen through checklists or tool training alone. Educators need explicit strategies and peer support. They also need professional learning experiences that will count towards their ongoing career development and continuing education credits. 

To address these issues, AACTE is proud to team up with the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) to launch a Summer Learning Academy designed to prepare K-12 educators and teacher candidates for teaching in online and blended learning settings this fall.

This fun 3-week summer learning experience will provide the online teaching support educators have been asking for in a flexible format that meets their needs. Educators who successfully complete the program earn continuing education units (CEUs) and graduate-level credit.

What Zoom Reminded Me about Effective Teaching

Video call group business people meeting on virtual workplace or remote office

Like many educators, I experienced a crash course in teaching via Zoom during 2020. More than another technological tool, videoconferencing has helped me rethink and refine my pedagogical practice—for both online and face-to-face settings. 

Classroom Norms

In my typical class sessions, we jump into instruction and activities to model “on-task” productivity. However, Zoom has reminded me that giving attention to procedures and expectations is time well spent.

In a videoconference setting, these “norms” often relate to technical set up—microphones, chatroom, camera, etc. Such issues relate to all sorts of teaching environments. How can students use phones or other devices? What should they write down or record? When and how do they talk with one another and the instructor? These are all important questions, and answering them at the start establishes expectations for successful learning (Finley, 2013).

COVID-19: Creating a new education reality

Child participating in an online class

This article originally appeared in eCampus News.

With the onset of coronavirus (COVID-19), school districts, institutions of higher education, and educators are finding themselves in uncharted territory. COVID-19 hit hard and fast. And with that, so did the shift from in-school instruction to online learning, which brought to light very complicated issues and inequities.

The onset of remote learning has magnified the disparity between students who have access to computers and internet and those who do not. The digital divide in our communities, particularly among children from underrepresented and low socioeconomic communities, raises questions that need to be answered.

What technologically based tools make a difference? What context is critical for successful introduction and integration of such tools? What scale of implementation might be possible?

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.

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