aggieTERM keeps Aggie teachers in the classroom
Teacher preparation programs across the country are struggling to pivot due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Districts across the state implemented new policies because of the outbreak, and almost all preservice teachers are not able to be in the classroom to get valuable training needed.
At Texas A&M, the College of Education and Human Development places close to 1,500 preservice teachers in the classroom each semester. However, because of COVID-19, only about 200 teachers are getting the experience.
Many of the preservice teachers are involved in aggieTERM, a year-long clinical residency in area school districts. We spoke with an aggieTERM student, Samantha Siebenaller, about her experiences.
Q: Why did you get involved with aggieTERM?
A. I received an email from the department of Teaching, Learning and Culture about aggieTERM. After talking with my family, advisors and classmates, I decided that aggieTERM would be an amazing opportunity for me and my future career path. aggieTERM provides undergraduate education students, like myself, with a year-long clinical residency in either the Bryan or Caldwell Independent School District. This program also has several benefits and provides residents with a phenomenal mentor teacher, a school sanctioned laptop, professional development opportunities, a $15,000 stipend and an authentic year-long teaching experience.
Q: Why do you want to be a teacher?
A. I began teaching swimming lessons at the age of 13. I taught the little swimmers that were just beginning to learn how to swim. This included teaching them how to blow bubbles and float on their back and stomach. My favorite part about teaching swimming lessons is watching their growth and progression. I love being able to see the children progress inside and outside of the pool. I wanted to be able to make an impact and see a child’s growth and progression daily; therefore, I knew teaching would be the best career path for me.
Q: What has being in the classroom taught you?
A. aggieTERM residents are the few students that are able to go into the classroom this semester, due to COVID reasons. I take full advantage of any time that I am able to go into the classroom and observe. By being in the classroom this semester, I am receiving first-hand experience. In addition, I am learning different teaching methods and classroom management skills that most students are not able to receive as of right now.
Q: How have you worked together with your mentor teacher?
A. Throughout this semester, I am working with my mentor teacher daily. We are planning lessons and collaborating together. In addition, due to COVID, I am eager to help out in any way that I can. After collaborating, my mentor teacher and I decided that I would be in charge of passing out any materials and cleaning the desks and shared materials between each class while she welcomes the next group of students into her classroom. This helps to create an easy transition between classes.
Q: How do you feel COVID has impacted the classroom?
A. I believe that COVID has negatively impacted the classroom. For example, procedures such as cleaning desks and shared materials between classes take up learning time. In addition, a plethora of parents and students have agreed to complete school At-Home. Several students are not participating and not completing their work. This is a tremendous struggle for the teachers.
Q: How do you feel your teacher prep courses prepared you for this experience?
A. Certain classes, such as EDCI 365 – Technology in the Classroom, have prepared me for this experience. For example, we were taught how to utilize different websites and apps within our classroom. Now that several students are learning online, these websites and apps are extremely useful. In addition, the current classes that I am taking in Senior Methods are incorporating different assignments that will be useful when teaching a virtual classroom.
Q: How do you feel this experience is preparing you for your future as an educator?
A. It is important for educators to understand that every year is going to be different, this year especially. The teachers that I am currently observing and working with have done a tremendous job by focusing on creating a student-centered environment during this chaotic time.
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