COVID-19 stalls student teaching

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Getty Images

Trinity Turner, Reporter

It’s time for students to teach, however, COVID-19 is stalling yet another thing. COVID makes many schools apprehensive to let in unknown people to student teach. The government’s regulations are hindering many’s efforts to get an education. This is a very tough time as many of us worry we won’t be able to get our student teaching hours in before the snow. 

I had the privilege of talking to our hardworking placement coach Holly Koester. Koester has held this title since October 2018 and says “This has been my hardest year yet. Not only am I dealing with normal changes, but I am also now facing COVID changes.”

Many schools are waiting for the testing protocol. However, no one knows when this will be put into place. No one knows how it will work or what it will include. Leaving schools this high and dry is what is messing and halting many students.

“I completely understand why there are protocols in place because we want to keep our students and staff healthy, but it has definitely put a strain on my ability to place our education students. I am constantly having to send out emails to our students stating the unfortunate news that they are not able to observe in a certain classroom due to protocols in place made by the school which then leads to a challenge of finding a new school teacher in that subject or grade level that the student would prefer,” Koester laments.

Some schools are just flat out refusing and many students had to exchange their dream placement for their second choice. This is heartbreaking as many students’ first choices were teachers they loved as students and wanted to learn about their teaching style.

However the outlook doesn’t have to be so grim. Koester offered advice for all education students going through this tough time. 

“ Two of the greatest traits a teacher can possess are patience and flexibility.. Teachers all around are constantly being thrown something new everyday, especially this year. Being able to be flexible will cause less stress on the teacher which will be reciprocated to the students. As a first year teacher, something that has helped me tremendously this year is to not be afraid to ask questions. I have wonderful coworkers in all grade levels who are always there if I have a question or need help with an issue that has come up. Even my administration is always there if and when I have problems,” says Koester. 

Koester continues, “An effective teacher is a teacher who has the support from her/his peers and administration behind him/her. You just need to ask the questions for the help to become the effective teacher you envision yourself becoming. Most importantly, build those relationships with your students. There aren’t two students in your classroom who are close alike. They all come from different backgrounds, have different personalities, learn differently, etc. Developing that relationship with them is the piece they need to learn and grow inside and outside of your classroom.”

Koester is advising students to take a deep breath, and when student teachers get placed, they don’t need to fret because their teacher will be there to help them along the way. She also wants the students to know they are not alone because the teacher they are shadowing has also dealt with the same experience.. 

Hopefully the government can look into making the student teaching aspect of schooling more COVID accessible.Making schools so afraid to let in the outside future teachers can reduce the amount of students wanting to go into the field, which Illinois is already lacking in.

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