By Gabrielle Owens
As Ohio public school systems saw major shut-downs due to COVID-19, students and teachers transitioned to online learning. Charles L. Howell, dean of the Beeghly College of Liberal Arts, Social Sciences and Education, has a plan to ensure that education students gain field teaching experience through online instruction in local schools.
“For the fall semester, we anticipate that it’s going to be a mix between fully face-to-face instruction, hybrid instruction and online instruction; for students to complete their placement, many school districts are going to welcome our student teachers,” Howell said.
BCLASSE’s student teaching field experience continued to provide the best one-on-one experience for each student teacher during the shutdown, according to Howell. Education majors need this vital field experience — without it, they can’t be certified to teach.
“Last semester, after the school shut down, most of our student teachers continued to be involved in both online and in-person instruction,” he said.
According to Howell, nearly all student teachers during the spring 2020 semester were able to complete their hours. This allowed them to fulfill their student teaching requirements and gain eligibility for their Ohio teaching license.
The BCLASSE professors and education students are working together to adapt to online instruction for the fall semester.
“Our student teachers are more comfortable with the technology than some of the teachers in the school, it’s very helpful to have them participating, and they have a lot of ideas for online instruction,” Howell said.
Therese Kightlinger, administrator of student field experiences, assured that undergraduate student teaching experience was minimally altered by the pandemic.
“Nothing has changed; we have an excellent partnership with the districts, and they collaborate and support our student teaching field experience program. Even when the shutdown occurred, our student teachers stayed in the field working, and the district did not decline having them there,” she said.
Kightlinger is committed to adapting to the changes in the field to ensure students’ success.
“The student teachers need to learn and enjoy the experience and understand that the student teaching field experience is a great opportunity,” Kightlinger said.
Angela Lock, a senior integrated language arts education major, is currently participating in student teaching field experience. She said she is uncertain of what to expect for the fall semester.
“It’s definitely going to be a challenge, because this pandemic is something no one could have prepared us for. A lot of student teachers have a lot of questions and no one really has the answers for them. So, there is really no one to go to if you have a problem,” she said.
According to Lock, the student teaching field experience program has been a great learning opportunity overall.
“I’m learning a lot and the faculty and staff are making sure we are feeling supported,” she said.