Education majors navigate student teaching in a world limited by COVID-19

Education majors at Boise State have different responsibilities than most students. In order to obtain their degree, they must go to local Boise schools and participate in student-teaching, where they learn how to teach in a hands-on environment. 

With COVID-19 forcing students to adapt to some form of online learning, this makes student-teaching a new challenge for many education majors finishing their degrees. 

For Hero Fife, a senior education major, the pandemic has presented unexpected difficulties. 

“I’m worried I might not be ready to go into the job field as a professional, but our mentors are really supportive and making sure we have everything we need,” Fife said. 

According to Fife, there have been many changes to the way the College of Education is handling students ready to go out to local classrooms. 

“I’m trying to be positive, especially with so many unknowns, but the education majors are a really great, supportive, close-knit group,” Fife said. 

Fife is worried about the significant cuts Idaho has made to the education budget and where she’ll go after graduation, but Angel Larson, a clinical instructor in the Curriculum, Instruction and Foundational Studies Department, is more assured in where the future of education is headed. 

“Right now, I’m trying to see technology as a communication tool, rather than something that is overwhelming or a hindrance,” Larson said. “In the spring, I wasn’t embracing the online approach, but now I feel like I’m using technology to enhance my teaching.” 

Because of how learning is morphing, Larson has had to adapt her own teaching style. According to Larson, throughout the summer, she read nonstop for new perspectives on how to figure out effective teaching strategies for the upcoming semester. 

Larson has hope for the future of education. Due to the pandemic and the changes within the learning environment, teaching and education is at the forefront of our conversations and thinking, according to Larson. 

“Though I’m not grateful for the pandemic, I’m grateful that it’s brought up how important education is,” Larson said. “It’s becoming a priority and that’s where it needs to stay.” 

Courtney Biagi, a senior dual blended early childhood/early childhood special education and elementary education student, feels similar to Angel Larson about COVID-19, teaching and education. 

“At first, I didn’t want to learn how to teach online,” Biagi said. “But now, I’ve realized what a good and important skill it is to have and I’m excited to start student-teaching.” 

According to Biagi, the transition to online classes in March helped her learn her way around a computer more effectively. 

“I got used to working on computers. I now know how to adapt quickly to an online environment,” Biagi said. “I’m grateful I’ve had this opportunity to learn a new skill that some teachers may not have had the chance to learn.” 

Biagi’s ideas of what a teacher is have changed significantly due to the pandemic. She believes, because of the pandemic, that teaching is going to change significantly. 

“The pandemic really scared me when it came to my teaching. Growing up, I had this idea of what a teacher should look like,” Biagi said. “Now I say to myself, ‘Will I have an opportunity to be the teacher I’ve always thought of?’” 

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