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The future of student teachers amidst COVID-19

Because of school districts closing everywhere, universities and students have had to adjust their curriculums to prevent further disruptions from the school year.

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Schools taking a pause across the nation not only affects the students but also the ones teaching. Student teachers who are finishing their last semester in college were taking this time to educate in a classroom setting before the outbreak put an end to that.

Students have been working for the last four years to graduate on time and apply for jobs afterwards. But, the pandemic may have interrupted that timeline for some. Because of school districts closing everywhere, universities and students have had to adjust their curriculums to prevent further disruptions from the school year.

"Student teaching really is their boots on the ground experience, where they really are teaching, teaching responsibility of the classroom. There’s nothing more valuable than that experience. It really is their chance to put their training into action and to be the teacher and have that actual firsthand experience," said SHSU Dean of College of Education, Stacey Edmonson.

Students enrolled in the student teaching programs at Sam Houston and Texas A&M to become full-time teachers post-graduation could not fulfill their graduation requisites due to the coronavirus outbreak.

“Probably the worst part about it is not knowing if I can go in to clean out my desk, not knowing if I’ll ever see the kids again, which is really sad and concerning to me. Not knowing if I’ll ever be able to finish up. In the back of all of our minds was are we going to have to do this during the summer? Are we going to have to make up these days maybe early next august?" said Texas A&M senior and Early Childhood Development Major, LeeAn Baty.

These graduating degrees depend on when the schools will open next.

The students at Sam Houston need 70 days, and the students at Texas A&M need 72 days of teaching in the classroom

“When the schools closed in march, there was no way for them to get 70 days, even if schools opened up in early April when they at first thought they would," said Edmonson.

The Texas Education Agency cut that required number of days down to 35 due to these unprecedented times.

"One of the challenges is the rule actually says those days have to be in the classroom setting which is a good rule but when there are no classroom settings, that creates a whole new challenge so the waiver also gave us permission to adapt what those experiences look like," said Edmonson.

Although the universities have figured out a solution for the students to graduate on time, the next big challenge is getting the appropriate teaching certification as these seniors begin to look for jobs.

“There are a lot of certification exams that they have to take, and like everything else, testing centers are closed right now.They have anywhere from two to five certification exams. We do have a lot of student teachers across the state that have not taken their tests yet. So we are working with TEA to figure out what solution do we have for that," said Edmonson.

The application and hiring process moving online can also be staggering to the applying seniors.

“It’s scary because a lot of what my application process looks like is online, it’s virtual, I feel like they don’t really get to see what I could really bring to the classroom, because like I said, teaching is very interactive, it’s important to have a good presentation of yourself and social skills," said Baty.

Both schools are actively working with the education agency to best address the future of these students.

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