By: Emily Trent
COVID-19 has changed the way many learn but has also changed the way educators are teaching. The School of Education has had many changes occur since the start of the pandemic but not all have been negative.
With virtual learning, comes flexibility and faculty and staff within the School of Education took advantage of the opportunity to turn it into a real-world learning experience for students.
In most case scenarios, students are given detailed and diverse balanced workloads with academic instruction and demands. This year they had to learn how to adjust to traditional hybrid and virtual environments.
According to the Dean of the School of Education, Hope Smith, “The school saw an increase in its own online course offerings, and the adaption of a software platform that allowed candidates unable to complete field experiences in schools to do so in virtual classrooms with student avatars.”
Although many K-12 schools were adjusting to their own version of learning, they still welcomed many of the field and student teachers, so students were still able to get face-to-face experiences in a traditional learning environment.
“Moving forward, we have learned much in the school about how to better prepare our candidates for the types of virtual learning that may become more permanent options once the pandemic is over, and work is being done now that will continue to refine and adapt our curriculum to address these contexts in the future,” Smith said
The School of Education looks forward for fall 2021 classes to be in-person again. They said that more students will be able to gain experience working in-person within K-12 schools as many local representatives feel there is a high chance there will be more options and positions for candidate students this coming fall.
Although the school is thrilled about the learning opportunities, they are excited to see students safely bringing life back to campus.
The health and wellness of students, faculty, staff and community members everywhere is very important.
“I believe that it is critical for everyone who is eligible and able to get a vaccine to do so – not just to protect themselves but to help provide a layer of protection for vulnerable populations in our community who may not be able to be vaccinated themselves,” said Smith, “For education majors, in particular, their work in schools places them with large groups of individuals, and, as vaccines are not yet available for children, I think it is that much more important for teacher candidates to avail themselves of the vaccine”.
She is receiving the vaccine and believes in the science and research behind the approved vaccines and encourages everyone eligible to sign up.
Hoosier PreK-12 teachers were able to officially sign up to get vaccinated on March 10. The vaccination rollout included anyone working in PreK-12 schools. However, those eligible had to sign up through Meijer, Kroger or Walmart pharmacies.