Student teaching affected by COVID-19

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After Southern Adventist University moved to online-instruction for the rest of the 2020 winter semester, many programs—including student teaching that require off-campus practicums—faced uncertainty about how they would continue. Pheobe Maciel, a senior English education major, was one of those students.

“When I left Southern two days before spring break, …they told me that I was still going to come back and teach at Collegedale Academy.  It became apparent that Collegedale Academy was not going to be open and that I wasn’t going to easily be able to return to Southern,” Maciel said. “I was just kind of wondering what’s going to happen. … It’s  not something that you can just do from home, because you need a student in the classroom.”

According to Director of Teaching Krystal Bishop, “All programs across campus have had to rise to the challenges. Our challenges are somewhat unique due to the fact that much of the learning takes place in K-12 classrooms, and that was abruptly ended.” 

Despite the rapid changes, Bishop said the situation shouldn’t hold seniors back from graduating in May as all of Southern’s student teachers still have placements.

“All students will graduate according to their scheduled completion. We were able to provide placements for each of them. And even though the requirements have gone through some necessary revisions, the completion is assured as long as each student-teacher continues with completion of the revised requirements,” Bishop said.

However, for Maciel, the campus shut-down created a significant impact due to her being in the Pacific Time Zone. Therefore, she has to wake up at 5:30 a.m. to be able to virtually teach her students at Collegedale Academy, which is in the Eastern Standard Time Zone. 

Despite the time zone differences, Maciel has felt disheartened by how sudden her student teaching experience changed. 

“I was super excited to be in the classroom and meet my students and have those face-to-face interactions,” Maciel said. “ …We were planning really cool things to do in the classroom. We were going to have a 20s party because we were [reading] ‘Great Gatsby,’ and we were going to have a day where [students] could dress up and come eat food. Obviously, we can’t do that online.”

Some have concerns regarding the teaching in general and what’s going to happen moving forward by next fall. 

“I am really hoping that by August we’re back in the classroom,” Maciel said. “When [teachers] don’t have that personal interaction with students, it really affects how much motivation we have.”

While there is still uncertainty surrounding what will happen going forward at Southern, Bishop gives students some words of encouragement. 

“We continue to be committed to providing you with teaching and learning experiences designed to nurture you as teachers of excellence,” Bishop said. “Teaching is all about flexibility and problem-solving, and this disruption to the status quo may make you stronger teachers in the future. Every day the faculty are praying and planning for your success now and in the future.” 

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