A one-credit technology course offered to students at the University of Washington for master’s degrees in education was not considered the most relevant. COVID-19 was introduced, and schools began to embrace remote learning. Material from this course was then being used in other courses.
Anne Beitlers directs Washington’s master program in secondary education. “And nobody is going to doubt that now.”
Although changes to standards and curricula are slow, the pandemic is already having an impact on the education of future teachers. To reflect the lessons learned from the pandemic, many U.S. teacher preparation programs incorporate digital tools, online instruction, and mental and emotional well-being into their courses.
Although school system leaders hope to provide in-person instruction as much as possible this year for students, experts agree that the focus on technology will be beneficial regardless of how the pandemic develops.
Teaching programs across the country are putting more emphasis on planning and implementing high-quality virtual learning.
“I believe it’s our responsibility as teachers to be capable of doing that. If they find themselves teaching face to face, no one’s hurt by additional information on teaching online,” stated Jennifer Krawec from the University of Miami.
Iowa Drake University’s education school has created a course on best practices for online instruction. Others claim they have improved the way they use digital tools, videoconferencing, and educational technology in their classes. They also plan to teach future educators how to do so.
Columbia University’s Teachers College officials say that its students will continue to practice skills that were increasingly important during the pandemic. These include designing digital curricula and engaging children in virtual or hybrid learning.
Southern Methodist University will train its graduates in Google Classroom and evaluation of educational technology. New York University instructors are more deliberate about explaining why and how they use certain digital tools.
Not only are there changes in the education of aspiring teachers, but also in how they learn.
Take a look at how colleges responded to school closings that prevented them from being able to observe and teach in K-12 classrooms. Instead, some programs had students watch videos of top teachers in action and plan to continue using these videos for future classroom visits. Some colleges put their students in virtual classrooms and had them tutor online. They may still explore these options.
Lynn Gangone, president of American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, stated that some prep programs have also made or increased use of computer-simulated classrooms for teaching prospective teachers.
Gangone stated that it allows the mentor teacher to observe, and it doesn’t cause harm to any children.
Software that allows students at Vanderbilt and Florida to record lessons and then review and critique the video with their classmates, or with supervisors, was used by students at Ball State, Florida, and Vanderbilt. According to the director of the education school, some field supervision of teaching students from the University of Cincinnati will likely continue to be done via virtual means because it is more flexible.
Arizona State University’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College will offer teacher-preparation programs online to make them more accessible to residents of the state. However, they could still gain real-world experience in classrooms within their locality.
Paul Gediman is the college’s executive vice president of marketing and advancement. He stated that “our experience with remote instruction has given our confidence and also revealed the necessity, to be able to do as we can in teacher preparation remotely.”
North Carolina State University’s College of Education is trying to incorporate remote learning strategies and tools that are still usable in face-toface teaching. Erin Horne, assistant dean, stated that instructors at North Carolina State University’s College of Education are trying to do this.
Horne stated that they have also been dedicating more time to social-emotional learning, and trauma-informed healthcare.
These topics are also receiving increased attention from other sources. Penn State University officials said that Penn State University has been incorporating more discussion about mental and emotionally health into its seminars for teachers candidates and methods courses. According to the director of teacher education at Washington University, St. Louis, its teacher candidates have been asked to create specific plans on how they can self-care and avoid burnout while teaching.
Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers, stated that she believes teacher preparation programs will continue to prepare educators with more digital tools, social-emotional and trauma-based tools. The union has a new professional training course in trauma-informed teaching, which is in high demand.
Phillip Rogers, the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification, stated that he believes virtual instruction skills will become an increasingly common part of teacher education, but states are not willing to require it in teacher preparation programs.