The morning of March 12, 2020 at the school where I had just started student teaching, teachers were directed to prepare 10 days’ worth of learning material for students in anticipation of the schools being closed for a period of two weeks due to the coronavirus. This was initially hoped to be a brief interlude—like an extended spring break—and while it was expected that students might or might not complete their learning activities at home, any minor losses in progress would surely be made up when the students returned to school in early April.
As time went on and it was clear that school could not resume as planned, decisions had to be made about remote learning—what it would look like, what expectations could be placed on students, and many other big and small decisions. In special education, these decisions have the legal considerations of students’ IEPs. Compliance with IEPs is evidenced in data collection and benchmark assessments, and the procedures to collect data and administer assessments must be consistent for validity.
AACTE Responds to COVID-19
This article originally appeared on the Western Kentucky University WKU News site and is reprinted with permission.
With the help of faculty and partnering school districts, Western Kentucky University student teachers Ian Harper, Theresa Price, and Hallee Black, among other candidates, immediately went to work developing an alternative learning plan for their classrooms in light of COVID 19 mitigations. Overnight, non-traditional instruction, or NTI, became a mantra and a motive with each candidate pulling tools and resources from their arsenal of lessons learned during their time at WKU.
“Our Topper teacher candidates have stepped up in a big way,” said WKU Office of Professional Educator Services Director, Stephanie Martin, as she reflected on the days leading into alternative learning.
“I had professors at WKU that prepared us for NTI days inadvertently,” said Ian Harper, middle school social studies and language arts major from Bowling Green. Harper currently serves eighth grade students at Drakes Creek Middle School in Bowling Green and said that, even in this “worst case scenario,” WKU faculty and Warren County teachers helped him adapt to the current unprecedented situation thanks to their commitment to technology-based resources.
AACTE Responds to COVID-19
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, higher education institutions and its students are facing significant challenges and uncertainties. Graduate students enrolled in colleges and schools of education, in particular, have had to respond to the current circumstances and find solutions to continue their academic pursuit and scholarly productivity. AACTE recently interviewed three graduate students from our member institutions about how the current crisis has affected them. The following themes emerged from these interviews.
Challenges with Adapting to Distance Learning
As a result of campus closures, graduate students have found themselves having to engage in distance learning fully. Although some have had experience in taking and teaching online courses, there are still unique challenges when all learning occurs virtually. These challenges are more common for students who are parents and have to oversee instruction for children in PK-12 schools during daytime hours. Additionally, students who are in a household with multiple adults teleworking or engaging in distance learning places a strain on their ability to focus and on resources like Wifi connectivity. Graduate students have expressed having to complete their studies during abnormal hours due to these distractions in their home environments.