Photo courtesy of the Associated Press
With schools across the country opening up during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, certain changes are being made this school year to keep students safe and prepare them for possible virtual learning. Student teachers are experiencing these changes firsthand and are faced with the challenge of gaining necessary experience while keeping both themselves and students safe.
The biggest change student teachers are seeing this year is the measures being taken to keep students safe. One measure student teachers are taking is wearing masks to help protect their students. Teachers are also making sure students social distance as much as possible while sanitizing tables and classroom supplies to lessen spread of the virus. Students are being taught habits such as using hand sanitizer and not sharing supplies as well.
“We do a lot of activities at our seats so that the students are spread out as best as possible,” said Abbey Milliorn, UWG student teacher. “Every student also has their own pencil boxes with everything they need so they don’t share, which is sometimes hard because for so many years we have been teaching them to share, and now that’s different for them.”
Another change student teachers are seeing in classrooms is the integration of online educational resources. Both student teachers and students are learning to use online tools in the classroom more because of the possibility that in-person classes may be moved online. This change is something that can benefit teachers by showing them a variety of resources to teach with.
“There’s so many important online resources that we are showing the kids to use, and I’m learning to use them too,” said Milliorn. “Even if I’m not a virtual teacher in the future, the online resources are still things I can use in my classroom someday.”
There are concerns from student teachers about the risks of teaching-in person, but some agree that teaching in-person is the best way for them to gain the necessary experience before they graduate.
“I’m glad we are getting to go to school because this is my last year before I graduate, and I’m supposed to have my own classroom,” said Milliorn. “I feel like the only way to get prepared is to be in the classroom with the students.
“I may have a change of opinion on being in-person as time goes on and seeing how things with the virus change,” continued Milliorn. “So far, I feel good about being in-person. Every time I see a teacher they’re wearing their masks, and I’m always wearing mine. The custodians are always cleaning and sanitizing the rooms too.”