St. Ambrose University student teachers have had to face many COVID-19 challenges lately, but for many of them, this has only strengthened their resolve to teach.
“If anything, the virus has further reinforced my desire to educate. The students are in dire need of not only teachers, but someone to lean on and care for them,” Joseph Dunlap, a current student teacher, said. “Within only a few short weeks I have been able to meet the most amazing students with fantastic stories that have just been beaten down by the virus.”
There are currently 33 student teachers in the field this semester, working on fulfilling their 75-day requirement, during which they act as full-time teachers.
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“Covid-19 has not affected my thoughts on becoming a teacher. If anything, it has reemphasized how important school is for kids,” Anna Bacon, who’s teaching at Bettendorf Middle School, said. “Not only because of learning, but they also need that social interaction in their lives as well.”
On top of the regular difficulties that come with entering a new field, these students must face a myriad of new problems brought on by COVID-19 as well.
“Students who have been learning online or quarantined, do not get the immediate help they may need from teachers,” Mary Munsterman, who’s teaching at North Scott High School, said. “I have seen some major setbacks in learning due to this.”
Some common issues cited by multiple student teachers include difficulties doing group work while maintaining social distancing, getting younger children to keep their masks on and having to balance both in-person and online learning.
To those of you familiar with college classrooms, these issues may not sound too unfamiliar.
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Dr. Gene Bechen, the Interim Director of the School of Education, said that the next big issue is classroom management.
At the moment, teachers are used to dealing with classrooms at half capacity, typically 12 or 13 kids at a time, but once the kids all come back, teachers will have to figure out how to fit a full classroom of kids, any aids or student teachers and themselves into a classroom safely.
“Teachers of course want their kids back in the classroom, but they want them to be safe. Everyone has to have PPE, everyone should be vaccinated, but we’re kind of doing it backward,” Bechen said.
While they are facing these unique challenges, many are excited to see change happening right in front of their eyes.
“The nature of learning and the future of education is changing right here and now,” Erika Seabloom, who’s teaching at Wilson Middle School, said. “There are new technologies, websites, programs, and ideas coming out every day to make learning as engaging and effective as possible.”
While it, as all things do, takes time, many are embracing this change and adapting as well as they can.
“Many things that we learned in the program have changed. We now have to become more flexible and rely on technology more than ever,” Munsterman said. “When we become future educators, we know it is a job that requires ongoing reflection and lifelong learning. Although change is scary, I see it as a challenge.”
“Our kids were fantastic, I’m proud of them, they were resilient, and they stepped up to meet these challenges,” Bechen said.