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Navigating an Unpredictable Pandemic

Mid adult man attending online math's lecture on laptop at homeIn 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.

AACTE Issues 10 State Recommendations for Educator Preparation Programs and New Teachers During Global Crisis

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:

  1. 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”).
  2. 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.
  3. Ensure candidates continue gaining experience teaching in a clinical setting with a mentor teacher, university supervisor, and continuous feedback.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Assess the needs of new teachers impacted by COVID-19 and identify areas for additional support.
  7. Require an induction action plan for new teachers describing the activities that must be completed or acquired for successful induction.
  8. Establish a mentorship program to equip new teachers with strategies to deliver high-quality instruction to diverse learners.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.

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?

AACTE Member Update: We Are in This Together

AACTE Responds to COVID-19

During this unprecedented time, AACTE’s number one concern is you, your loved ones, your colleagues, and your institutions. We will get through this together! While we all navigate the impact of the coronavirus, AACTE is working to provide you support through its COVID-19 Resource Hub and collaborations with key stakeholders from the field. Please take a few minutes to watch the video above and learn more.

AACTE President’s Message on Coronavirus (COVID-19)

AACTE Responds to COVID-19

AACTE has been closely monitoring information on the coronavirus (COVID-19) and is deeply concerned about the safety and well-being of the faculty, staff, and students within Colleges of Education. AACTE stands ready to support the educator preparation community as we all cope with this global crisis.

We have received notifications that some universities are transitioning classes to an online platform while others have canceled all classes for the remaining semester to ensure the safety of their students. We realize that this will impact clinical practice requirements and other criteria teacher candidates must complete for graduation. This is indeed a challenging time.

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