How COVID-19 changed the lives of student teachers and professors

Student teachers’ lives have been changing during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. It has been an adjustment from online instruction to face-to-face instruction.

Many schools across the state of Kentucky are back to in-person teaching. Other schools and districts have continued online instruction to decrease the spread of COVID-19. 

“Now that schools are back in person, it feels like a breath of fresh air,” said Hannah Belcher, a senior middle school education major. “We are now able to see them in person and truly know where they are struggling.”

Colleges and universities are back in person while providing online instruction in several courses for students and staff that feel comfortable virtually.

Sherry Powers, the dean of the College of Education and Applied Human Sciences at Eastern Kentucky University, said there are EKU student teachers that are emergency substitutes in Madison County. 

“We have parameters on that; we don't want a student to be asked to substitute through their whole student teaching experience, that would just be inappropriate. It's their choice because they would have to apply for a substitute teacher license,” Powers said. 

Adapting to new changes can be challenging in any situation. Being in a classroom setting as a student teacher can be tough. 

“I think the hardest part for me is adapting to our new ways of educating students,” said Belcher. “As a student teacher, I never knew how much I would have to learn and adapt so that I could effectively help students grow.”

It has been challenging to work remotely during COVID-19 due to different settings, platforms and less interactions. It is affecting the next generation of educators and future generations.

“Before COVID-19, student teachers were not required to create lessons using Zoom, Google Classroom, or other of the many websites recently used. We were recorded and observed through a camera,” said Belcher.

These student teachers risk COVID-19 exposure in the classroom. Even parents are worried about their own children that are student teachers being exposed to COVID-19.

“ ... I actually had some parents contact me that were very concerned because they did not want their child to be put in a situation where they could be in different classrooms every day and potentially have a higher exposure rate to COVID,” Powers said. “We share with the parents how we are handling it. But the state has kind of left that up to the universities to decide how many days we will allow students to do.”

This pandemic made student teachers adapt to new situations. Now that schools are teaching in-person again, student teachers are learning how they can improve for their future careers. 

“I look forward to learning how I can improve and become a teacher that is always ready to adapt. I hope to be the teacher that cares and always does their best to reach every student,” said Belcher.

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