UWGB Education: Student Teaching During COVID-19

Due to COVID-19, many schools have become online schools, not only impacting students and teachers, but those students who are looking to become teachers.

As part of their curriculum for the Education major, UWGB students are required to complete a field placement, as well as student teaching, at an actual school. While these important components are still available for students to complete, things are definitely different than normal due to COVID-19.

When Riley Brunner, a senior at UWGB, decided she wanted to be a teacher, a world with COVID-19 and online teaching was not at all what she had pictured.

Riley is majoring in Elementary Education and currently student teaching a second-grade class at Heritage Elementary School. While they started off the year in-person, on September 29th, they went virtual. As of publication on October 30th, their classes will be virtual until November 6th.

Guidelines from Unified School District of De Pere, which includes Heritage Elementary. Photo Credit: De Pere K12

Hope Dewing, a junior at UWGB majoring in Elementary Education with an emphasis on Early Childhood, said the format seems entirely different from her anticipation. She is completing a field placement at Sullivan Elementary in a 4th grade online classroom.

“Although I am still able to have connections with the students,” Hope says, “It is harder to build connections with them.”

Instead of working in a classroom with students, which is more interactive, Hope says that now it is now an environment where the teacher is talking, and then students go into breakout rooms, asking questions if needed.

Hope’s workspace for her online field placement. Photo Credit: Hope Dewing

“When you are in person, it is so much easier to walk around the room and have little conversations with the kids,” Hope said, “But now I have to wait and see if there just happens to be extra time to be able to try and connect with the kids.”

Riley says that teaching in-person was going well, and the transition to online learning is challenging because teaching through a screen is quite different than when everyone is in the classroom.

“I miss being able to connect with my students in-person,” she says, “And really hope to see them back in the classroom soon.”

Although this experience was unexpected, Riley says that being a student teacher during this time has taught her so many alternative teaching methods she can use in the future, such as Seesaw, an online program where teachers can send out assignments and see how students are progressing, as well as Google classroom, where their classes meet virtually.

Riley’s workspace at Heritage Elementary School for virtual teaching. Teachers can return to the classroom for virtual teaching, or they can teach from their homes. Riley alternates teaching from home and from the classroom. Photo Credit: Riley Brunner

Riley had advice for student teachers, saying, “Keep working hard and know that we are all struggling in this together. Treat everyday as a new day, and know things will get better.”

By Jade H., Angela L., and Alison D.

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