Young student teachers dealing with the effects of the pandemic

Student teachers adjusting to new environment

By Courtney Koebel

koebelc@findlay.edu

@courtneykoebel

Student teachers this year are facing something that many student teachers have never had to face. They are not only trying to navigate the new classroom atmosphere, but they are also trying to learn how to teach during a pandemic.

Not all student teachers are facing the same thing this year. Some are going back five days a week, while some are only seeing their students two times a week virtually. Students all over the state are experiencing different styles of learning because many districts were in charge of creating their own start plan. Some students are entering schools for the first time and are trying to gain their comfort in the classroom.

Kaitlin Kochendoerfer, a junior at The University of Toledo, is not only still waiting for a teaching placement, but is also getting anxious about what this year is going to look like.

“I am worried about getting my first year experience and becoming comfortable in the classroom,” Kochendoerfer said. “I can sit in a college classroom all day learning about teaching, but I need to do it to actually learn.”

Due to the pandemic Kochendoerfer is possibly missing out on an important experience for any student teacher.

The University of Toledo is not stopping student teaching placements. They believe it is

an important aspect of the learning process in becoming a future educator. In their monthly newsletter, The Gilham Hall Gazette, Dr. Richard Welsch talks about student teachers transition into the virtual year.

 

“As you can imaging, the integration of technology into the teaching and learning experience has been priority of our student teachers,” Dr. Welsch stated.

Student teachers are not allowing the current pandemic to stall their learning process. Many current educators are having to learn how to teach virtually, while the upcoming student teachers are learning with the support of the university and their cooperating teachers. With this learning experience they will have the chance to display their knowledge about virtual learning during job interviews.

“Many of my mentors and upperclassmen have told me how valuable this time is,” Kochendoefer said. “Virtual learning is becoming the new normal for some students and I will be able to use what I will learn this semester for many years.”

On the other hand, Kelsey Baughman, a senior at The University of Findlay, has already had a year of student teaching and is more worried about how the students are going to react to new teachers and the masks.

“The mask mandate hinders that personal connection and seeing facial expressions,” Baughman said. “That’s how you read people. We need to be more personal and explain ourselves a little more.”

Not only are new student teachers going to have to gain the trust of their new students, but they are also going to have to hurdle the barrier of what the mask takes away from the experience.

Overall, many student teachers are anxious about how the school year will go for them. Kelsey Baughman has already had the experience of student teaching virtually and she hopes it can help student teachers in future interviews and classroom settings.

“It really helps you be more empathic to situations. Going back to that in person setting, this is a great foundation for how you want things to be set,” Baughman said.

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