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Students Teach in the Age of COVID-19

By: Nadine Brosnan '20, Graduate Assistant

Students Teach in the Age of COVID-19

Although we are in the midst of a pandemic, education must continue, not only for our country’s youth, but also for our pre-service teachers. This semester, 12 student teachers from The University of Scranton braved unchartered territory: the PreK-4 classrooms of local school during the COVID-19 pandemic. They are learning from veteran teachers while overcoming obstacles; their goal being to guide their students to success. The University’s Education Department faculty, staff and student-teacher supervisors are thoroughly impressed with the flexibility and perseverance their student teachers have demonstrated.  

Carol Rubel, one of the student-teacher supervisors, said:

Our student teachers have, as William Faulkner observed, (not only) ‘endured...but prevailed.’ As field supervisors, we have seen students adapt to teaching through the lens of a camera instead of looking into a student’s eyes directly. We have noted that the ability to move between physical and virtual instructional platforms required the acquisition and implementation of new skill sets, and we have seen our students master and apply those new techniques. Supervising student teachers during this semester has included helping them monitor their own physical COVID status as well as handle the changes in classrooms implemented when there was a positive test case inside a district. 

Through it all, our University students have worked hard to deliver instruction that reflects the scope, sequence, and rigor of our department’s preparation. Our students have, diligently, exerted conscious effort to teach their students with the Jesuit philosophy of cura personalis in mind; as confusing and challenging as these times are for them and for us, they are even more so for children. Resilience. Responsibility. Reflective process.

During this semester, University student teachers have, as a whole and individually, accepted the challenges presented to them, done the hard work of adaptation, and delivered quality instruction to the children placed into their care. We, Field Supervisors, are always proud of our respective cohorts...but, perhaps, never more than now as we observe them living the conceptual challenge of all educators: embrace a flexibility that respects students' differences and drives solid teaching.

To one and all...from all of us: Well Done!

The following schools kindly welcomed our student teachers: Fell Charter, Lackawanna Trail Elementary, Mayfield Elementary, Valley View Elementary, and Valley View Intermediate. Additionally, one student teacher was placed at the Commonwealth Charter Academy, the University’s first-ever cyber school placement. 

Angelica Colontonio, the University’s first cyber student-teacher, makes it a priority to form personal connections with her second-grade students even though they are gathering in a virtual setting. To establish a community among her virtual learners, she has designated a time for students to share stories and events in their lives.  Angelica noted that Share Time is the perfect opportunity for her to get to know her students and for them to know her. Emmaline Freeman, who is teaching in-person kindergarten students, is aware that each student’s well-being is of great importance and takes the responsibility seriously. She juggles the balance of fostering the positive attributes her students exhibit, such as helpfulness and kindness, with keeping them safe by acknowledging and praising their desire to be friendly and nice. However, she reminds them that they must give their friends space so everyone can stay healthy.

Read more, here.

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