Student Teachers During Covid-19
STUDENT TEACHING DURING THE COVID-19 CRISIS
By Stuart Esrock, Ph.D.
Life goes on in K-12 schools around the nation despite the spread of the coronavirus, but obviously in a much different online format. That means teachers across the country are learning on the fly about how best to virtually conduct their classes, assign projects, test and evaluate their students. It also creates a challenge and new environment for the many UofL education students who are now doing their student teaching. Meet two of those students; Hannah Kemper and Erica Barlow.
Kemper is a senior from Louisville, majoring in Elementary Education. She has been doing her student teaching with kindergartners at a Jefferson County Public School, Farmer Elementary. When JCPS moved to online instruction, Kemper’s daily routine changed accordingly. “Now, each week we meet with our class on Google meets to check-in; this is the best part of every week. The students receive work every Friday for the upcoming week through Google Classroom. We are also using Seesaw in Kindergarten. It is an app where you can design creative activities for the students to complete. Once they are graded, the other students can see each others work and comment to one another.”
Kemper said the experience is making her much more technologically savvy and she has gained a level of expertise in developing online work and activities. But, she also concedes that nothing replaces face-to-face contact with students. “The students are what makes teaching such a unique and incredible job. I am always thinking of them and wondering how they are doing each day. It has amazed me how quickly the students have adapted, especially being so young. It is awesome to see!”
Erica Barlow is also a senior from Louisville who is getting ready to graduate with a degree in Early Elementary Education. And she, too, is doing her student teaching at Farmer Elementary. Barlow’s work since the pandemic hit has revolved around planning online lessons, grading assignments, providing students with feedback remotely, and leading weekly virtual meetings.
Barlow says it has been more difficult to teach in the online environment versus face-to-face. “There was a definite learning curve going from in-person instruction to completely online. I had to spend hours learning from other teachers and watching PD videos on how to use applications like Screencastify, Seesaw, Google Suite, etc. Nothing will replace the excitement and joy that comes from teaching F-2-F, but I am appreciative of the opportunity to become more fluent in digital teaching and learning.”
Barlow acknowledges the experience has changed her, not only as an educator but also as a person. “I think my perspective on what is truly important and what is a luxury has changed. I also have a newfound thankfulness for technology and for how it has allowed me to stay in touch with my friends and family throughout all of this.” She also gives a special shout-out to her mentor teacher, Gina Kimery. Like so many wonderful public educators, Barlow says Kimery has made the best of the COVID-19 situation. “When things switched to online learning, she did not miss a beat and continued to push me and help me to grow. This has become such a highlight of my student teaching career, largely because of her support and encouragement.”
Hannah Kemper and Erica Barlow are just two more Cardinals doing tremendously important work that benefits our community as we continue to fight the pandemic. Thanks for everything that you are both doing! If you know of a UofL student doing great things now, drop a line to Stuart Esrock so we can tell that story, too.