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Student Teaching While Distance Learning: One Teacher Candidate's Experience

May 28, 2020 - 3 minute read

Online teaching

What does your student teaching experience look like now?

My student teaching experience looks a lot like a desk job. One thing you hear teachers say a lot is “I could never sit at a desk all day!”, and now here we are. Of course, this is completely out of our control, but we have learned to make the best out of an un-ideal situation. I am now teaching lessons virtually from my home office (and by office, I mean my dining room table or my backyard patio table) instead of walking around the classroom and interacting with my students. I am now interacting with my students through a Zoom call, Google Classroom, or Seesaw. It is a lot less personal interaction, and a lot more planning online lessons and making sure kids stay on track with their work from a distance. I am now supporting my cooperating teacher through Zoom calls, texting about ideas that come to our heads in the moment and creating virtual lesson plans.  Some of these lesson plans include at home scavenger hunts, virtual field trips to different educational places, and using math in everyday practical settings. 

Is this experience helping you with your career goals? If yes, how so?

Yes, this experience is definitely helping me with my career goals. Although I am not getting the in-person experience I originally looked forward to on a daily basis, distance learning has introduced me to many different ways to teach my students and still be there for them virtually. Teachers are expected to plan engaging virtual interactive lessons that teach their students the content they would normally receive in a face-to-face setting, but those expectations have been tossed upside down. Though it has been extremely challenging to shift gears, the change has also introduced me to a lot of relevant and powerful applications and websites for students and teachers to use. I now have more resources to bring into my future classroom than I know what to do with. Although this situation is not the way I imagined ending my student teaching experience, I now have a different perspective and unique experiences to bring into my classroom in the future.

How are you staying connected with your students?

Every day our class has a Zoom meeting in the morning that includes all of the students, the teacher, our aides, and me. We show the students what the assignments are for the day, where to find them, and how to complete the assignments. Then, we spend some time letting the students chat with each other. Zoom is a great platform to check in on the students and see their faces every day. It also allows for the social interaction that these students need and are missing by not being in the classroom. One way I personally stay connected to the students is by commenting on the work they turn into Seesaw -  the platform our class uses to turn in the majority of their work. This is the best way to give my students feedback on their work and stay connected with them educationally. It also lets the students know I am looking at what they are doing, and that I am still here for them and extremely proud of the work they are doing.

Do you have any other comments? Or is there anything else you'd like to share? Or any tips for fellow student teachers?

To all student teachers out there: hang in there! All of us student teachers have different experiences with our distance learning, but don’t think that your experience is less than anyone else’s because you feel that you may be doing less with your class. I know there are days where I feel that I am doing my best and contributing a lot, and then there are days where I feel like I barely contributed to the class at all. Every district, every teacher, every class, and every student is different. No two classes will operate the exact same, so no two experiences will be the same. We are all getting a very inimitable experience that only our wave of student teachers gets to experience, so try to soak it all in and make the most out of it. We can do it! 

Jessica Cerise dreamt of being a teacher since she was a little girl. She first achieved her bachelor’s degree from CSUF in Child and Adolescent Development with a focus in elementary education before entering the Education Specialist Credential program at Concordia University Irvine to pursue her dream of being an elementary special education teacher.

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