As my journey to becoming a teacher edges to a close, this semester of my teacher preparation program has been full of the unexpected. This time was supposed to be filled with hands-on classroom experience, acquiring knowledge, and conducting research. But because of social distancing during the COVID-19 outbreak, it has consisted of virtual classes, online whiteboards, and lesson plans that are hard to complete. For a visual and hands-on learner like me, the adjustment has been challenging — but doable.
Right now, I should be student teaching. This is an essential time, because it allows future teachers to take knowledge from the classroom to create lesson plans and practice filling out planning commentaries and assessments. These things are important, because they not only prepare us for the classroom but also to pass the edTPA and obtain state licensure to teach. Given current circumstances, students and teachers of every grade level have had to seek alternatives. My teachers have been working around the clock to make up for lost time in the classroom and for our preparatory stage for the Praxis II exam, a vital step toward being admitted into Residency I in the fall.
Without classrooms to learn in, student teachers are being guided with helpful resources from our teachers: websites, books, discussion questions, quizzes, and more. While all these things are useful, I really take advantage of my teachers’ office hours so that I can ask questions. It would be an understatement to say I am nervous about taking Praxis II and not feeling prepared, but I am excited for the chance to enter Residency I and be assigned a permanent school so that I can make up for lost time.
My teachers have done a great job at meeting my cohort halfway and filling in the missing pieces, but that doesn’t erase the fact that teaching requires hands-on learning, and I am currently missing a key part of my field study: the students. I am disappointed that I could not finish the school year with my students; they were so bright and amazing. On a positive note, I have found another way to student teach during the school shutdown; teaching lesson plans to my little brother. I’m centering everything on him when it comes to planning, modifications, and assessment. Having this time with him has been a big help for me — in more ways than one.
As we move through this pandemic, I hope it makes us all realize how important teachers are. I know this experience has made me more determined and prouder than ever to enter the teaching profession. To teachers and aspiring teachers out there, I charge you to offer help during this time. It’s the perfect time to be innovative, brave, and helpful. There are so many people in the community who need assistance, whether it’s online tutoring or getting children adjusted to being online. The opportunities to assist are limitless, within the guidelines of social distancing, of course. You may not have a classroom right now, but you do have a community who needs your help.
Hailee Bryant-Roye recently completed an internship at SCORE.
Read more about the pandemic’s impact on teacher preparation and how to address it: