With the coronavirus pandemic causing colleges and schools to close, students of all ages are taking classes online, and it has impacted learning for all students. Students majoring in education have been affected not only as students, but teachers as well. Throughout college, education majors participate in multiple field experiences in different classrooms, as well as spending a semester student teaching. During these experiences, students travel to area schools and observe teachers in the field first hand. These are also the times where future educators get their first experiences teaching. With the closure of area schools and colleges due to the coronavirus, education majors have seen their field experiences and student teaching experiences altered or all together postponed.
Concordia has over twenty seniors student teaching in area schools this semester, and many more students were in other field experiences or were about to start them. For education majors, these field experiences are a valuable and enriching part of their programs as they provide education majors with real-life classroom experience as they prepare to become teachers.
Sophomore music education major Payton Hausauer was preparing to complete a field experience for one of her classes this semester when area schools were forced to close and move to online learning.
“My clinical experiences remain a significant part of my life as an education major. It means a lot to have such wonderful experiences in the classroom and to get that hands-on experience that not all college students are fortunate enough to receive,” Hausauer said.
Seniors student teaching in area schools have found themselves in unprecedented experiences, as they have had to end or alter their student teaching with the movement to online learning. Senior art education major Ivy Mattson has been working with elementary students in her student teaching experience this semester.
“Before the college was closed, I had the incredible opportunity to work with over 670 students K-4 in my student teaching experience. I was able to provide developmentally responsive, fun art lessons that promoted student growth and learning in a hands-on way, fostering a positive relationship with my students, cooperating teacher, and other staff at the school,” Mattson said.
Mattson has been working with her cooperating teacher to create online lessons, which is a new challenge as the elementary students they work with might not have access to materials for their lessons.
Senior elementary education major Nicole DeBoer had the opportunity to work with younger children as well.
“I enjoyed seeing all my students’ smiling faces every day and getting to know each of them as individuals as well as students. There were challenges, for sure, but it was such a great learning experience and helped prepare me for the future. It confirmed my decision to teach young children,” she said.
While she is no longer in the classroom with her students, DeBoer is still able to have some connection with them online.
“I miss my students and I miss teaching. This past week I made a video to say hello to my students and give them an update on what I have been doing, and it brightened my day to see that quite a few of my students commented on the video to say hi back,” she said.
The Education Department has not made plans yet about missed clinical hours. However, the department is working to make sure students graduate on time and are able to attain licensure, as this is a major concern among senior education majors.
This is a hard time for students, but the three education majors have some positive thoughts for education majors and Concordia students. Hausauer encourages people to look towards the future and remain hopeful.
“I think the greatest thing we can do right now is to remember that there is a life outside of quarantine. Whenever I am feeling down about the situation, I try to plan future events. For example, I started a summer bucket list with places I want to see and things I want to do to remind myself that this too shall pass,” she said.