Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, institutions of higher education have experienced various challenges, including transitions to online learning and adaptations to the delivery of campus services. Students, faculty, and staff alike have navigated feelings of anxiety and stress amid these uncertain times. Further, students that identify as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) are navigating two pandemics: COVID-19 and systemic racism. This reality presents an important question: How are university systems working to address racial injustice and support BIPOC students?
On Monday November 2, 2020, the College of Education (COE) Student Achievement Council (SAC) at Florida Atlantic University (FAU) collaborated with AACTE’s Holmes Scholars Program and the COE Diversity Committee to host a student outreach event with the purpose of addressing the aforementioned question. The three-part virtual presentation consisted of a welcome from COE Dean Stephen Silverman, a panel discussion with FAU’s Holmes Scholars, and an open discussion with all attendees of the event.
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.”
In recent interviews, I met with AACTE Board of Directors to collect their advice for colleges of education to effectively address challenges caused by COVID-19. These videos feature interview participants Jacob Easley II, Jennie Carr, and Jesse Perez Mendez.
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.
AACTE Responds to COVID-19
As a society, we have grappled with separation, tragedy, and trauma during the last few months at an increased volume. We are managing our challenges in isolation, which has exacerbated them in tangible and emotionally exhausting ways. Within educator preparation programs, your candidates have transitioned their coursework, their living circumstances, their peer relationships and learning communities. In addition, many of your candidates have continued to support their local school community in an online format to address the needs of their PK-12 students. Candidates have been asked to make these transitions and many have continued to engage with their classroom students while adjusting their expectations for their own future.
AACTE recognizes the immense effort required to advocate and care for the emotional and mental health of oneself during our current circumstances. To that end, we have added a new Mental Health section on our COVID-19 Resource Hub. This section is focused on EPP students—our future educators across the country. We have included free resources and tools to support mindfulness, meditation, peer support, and self-care. We hope these resources provide a supportive start to giving yourself grace, consideration, and gratitude for your contribution to the field of education.
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.
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.
AACTE Responds to COVID-19
The University at Albany School of Education, in order to support a greater need for remote learning in K-12 education, on Wednesday launched the website Remote Education Resource Center, or RemoteEd.
The site, which has immediate critical value in the current coronavirus crises, will not only help teachers incorporate remote learning tools into their classes, but also foster a community of practice in the Capital Region. RemoteEd had its unveiling on Wednesday during a webinar with area teachers.
“The School of Education at the University at Albany has a deep purpose and commitment to assist the special, urgent needs of teachers, leaders and schools to support student learning in this current dynamic time,” said Jason Lane, interim dean of the School. “Our faculty and graduate students have worked tirelessly to bring this resource to reality. We’re all in this together to support our children and students.”
AACTE continues to seek opportunities to support its members in navigating through the unprecedented educational challenges the coronavirus has caused. It is exciting to discover how AACTE members are exploring innovative pathways and solutions to the complex problems and are eager to share with the educator preparation community. Next week, AACTE and Old Dominion University will co-sponsor a 60-minute webinar featuring education faculty advising world nations on COVID-19, Wednesday, April 15 from 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. The webinar is open to all AACTE members.
AACTE Responds to COVID-19
AACTE is committed to providing opportunities for its members to connect virtually during the coronavirus. One of the several initiatives the Association recently launched to support members in this outbreak is the opportunity to share their stories with the educator preparation community. In fact, AACTE has a dedicated section for “Member Voices” on its new online COVID-19 Resource Hub.
AACTE is currently accepting article submissions from members that address questions such as: What lessons have you learned during the crisis response planning process for your institution? What innovations are your programs using to adapt to the needs of your faculty, staff and students? How has the impact of the coronavirus helped you enhance as an education leader?
Article submissions should also address education topics related to the following categories: