In early spring, when the coronavirus (COVID-19) shut the doors to classrooms, there was an optimistic belief that by fall the obstacles of the pandemic would disappear and in-class instruction would return to normal. However, as states began to lift emergency orders and school districts prepared to reopen schools, it became evident that education leaders would still be grappling with the unpredictable public health crisis this fall.
With COVID-19 spreading more rapidly in some regions of the United States, each state must assess whether they can safely open schools. Recently, some school districts that deemed it safe to reopen have reverted to remote learning when students and/or teachers have tested positive for the coronavirus. Certainly, navigating the current crisis is complicated, and it is having a profound effect on educator preparation programs (EPPs).
Due to PK-12 school closures in the spring, many teacher candidates were unable to complete their clinical and field experiences in a classroom setting—typically a prerequisite for licensure. Acknowledging that a lack of new teachers entering the field would adversely impact the current teacher shortage crisis, EPPs responded with alternative learning opportunities to ensure that teacher candidates are prepared and competent to enter their own classrooms. As a result, many states have implemented emergency policy changes to licensure, thus enabling recent graduates to teach this fall.
Teamwork Team Collaboration Connection Togetherness Unity Concept
Today AACTE released its new report, Teaching in the Time of COVID-19: State Recommendations for Educator Preparation Programs and New Teachers. The 10 recommendations address critical state policy changes necessary to support innovative improvement in education during the global pandemic and beyond. Increased barriers to developing the educator workforce during the health crisis, coupled with the national teacher shortage, create demands for acute collaboration between educator preparation programs (EPPs), state education agencies, and PK-12 schools to reinvent systems for producing high-quality teachers to meet the growing needs of diverse learners.
AACTE reviewed and analyzed COVID-related state guidance to EPPs in pursuit of three goals: (1) to understand what states are doing to help prepare teachers for the classroom during this crisis, (2) to understand any extant trends in state guidance and (3), to identify recommendations for state leaders to enhance the support of new teachers impacted by program and policy disturbances stemming from the coronavirus crisis. From the analysis emerged recommendations that address changes to licensure and certification requirements, clinical experience pathways, and induction supports for novice teachers.
“Navigating the current crisis is complicated, to say the least, and the pandemic’s impact has a profound effect on many, including colleges of education and educator preparation programs,” said Lynn M. Gangone, Ed.D., AACTE president and CEO. “The circumstances of the pandemic open a window to think differently about our collective work. AACTE released this report at its State Leaders Institute today to provide our state chapter leaders with the latest research to inform their collaborations and conversations with state officials, PK-12 partners, and legislators.”
The report’s 10 recommendations are:
- In making licensure and certification waivers for teachers, states should make changes that are directly necessary because of the pandemic temporary, with a timeline for an ending that is clearly delineated, and transparent in that those who are granted certification as a result of waived requirements must be so classified, (e.g., “waiver-certification”).
- States should seek innovative opportunities to address ongoing challenges—such as lack of diversity in the profession and the need to modernize the processes of licensure and certification—as they consider licensure and certification revisions.
- Ensure candidates continue gaining experience teaching in a clinical setting with a mentor teacher, university supervisor, and continuous feedback.
- Encourage flexibility and collaboration between EPPs and school districts that ensure teacher candidates participate in clinical experiences online or in distance settings if PK-12 schools are not physically back in brick and mortar buildings.
- Encourage innovative approaches to clinical experiences including distributed learning models that employ team teaching in PK-12 settings, simulated classroom environments that allow candidates to approximate teaching, and financially supporting candidates through employment with the local school.
- Assess the needs of new teachers impacted by COVID-19 and identify areas for additional support.
- Require an induction action plan for new teachers describing the activities that must be completed or acquired for successful induction.
- Establish a mentorship program to equip new teachers with strategies to deliver high-quality instruction to diverse learners.
- Implement co-teaching for new teachers whose clinical experiences were fully or partially waived and teachers who have not passed exams for licensure and certification due to COVID-19.
- Partner with EPPs to provide professional development to ensure that new teachers possess the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to teach diverse students.
View the full report at AACTE’s website.
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?
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.
AACTE Responds to COVID-19
AACTE and Mursion have partnered to offer educator preparation programs a solution to an acute need caused by the global pandemic. Teacher candidates’ opportunity for face-to-face classroom training has been suspended, which has resulted in a risk for future teachers to not complete their course work. The AACTE and Mursion collaboration provides virtual reality classrooms for teacher candidates to receive experiential learning through simulations. Mursion is rooted in teacher training and has conducted 50,000 simulations. Through the new offer, AACTE members receive a 10% discount to access innovative technology, thanks, in part, to an anonymous donor underwriting a portion of the cost.
Mursion has worked with over 70 educator preparation programs at colleges and universities. Here’s what a few participants had to say about the benefits of virtual reality classrooms:
AACTE Responds to COVID-19
AACTE has joined this coalition to provide support to the nation’s teacher leaders and educators during the coronovavirus pandemic.
The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), an education nonprofit that works with the education community to accelerate the use of technology to solve tough problems and inspire innovation, today announced the launch of COVID-19 Education Coalition—a diverse group of education organizations focused on curating, creating, and delivering high-quality tools and support for educators as they keep the learning going during extended school closures caused by the global pandemic.
“In this time of uncertainty and rapid change, school system leaders and educators are being inundated with information. This is an effort to cut through the noise, and provide a coordinated response to the urgent need for accurate information, responsive professional learning and contextualized resources,” said Richard Culatta, CEO of ISTE. “We’re coming together with over 50 of education’s trusted associations and nonprofit organizations to help ensure educators have what they need to support students and families.”