Student teaching goes virtual with Tomball ISD
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic one year ago, classroom experience for future teachers in the College of Education and Human Development drastically changed. However, thanks to a partnership with Tomball ISD, our future teachers are gaining valuable experience virtually.
Each semester, students complete their senior methods coursework while also working in a public school classroom under the supervision of their professor and a mentor teacher two days each week. Normally, the senior methods students are placed locally based on their chosen area of specialization.
When Texas A&M moved to remote instruction in March 2020, school districts across the state followed suit, leaving future teachers without hands-on classroom experience. Faculty in the Department of Teaching, Learning and Culture worked quickly to find an alternative. Students were given access to pre recorded lessons. However, they voiced concern that the lessons were just observation and there was no room for application or questioning of the instruction or strategies being implemented.
In the Fall of 2020, a new collaboration came to life. Working with Dr. Jeff McCanna ‘20, Chief of Human Talent at Tomball ISD, faculty found a way to offer future teachers a virtual senior methods semester.
“Tomball ISD principals, already having very successful experiences from Texas A&M graduates, were ‘all in’ from the onset. They immediately sent me the numbers of students they were able to virtually host,” said McCanna. “It was very important for all of us in Tomball ISD to do everything that we could to provide a ‘best in class’ experience for these future teachers and get them as immersed in this experience as we possibly could.”
120 Texas A&M pre-service teachers are now working virtually with teachers in Tomball ISD two full days each week to complete their senior methods semester. While this is not a replacement for the face-to-face placements, students are still able to observe various aspects of teaching from lesson development and delivery to testing and parent/teacher conferences.
“Educators have to be flexible and this last year has certainly shown us how to rise to the occasion. Our pre-service teachers are learning multiple ways to engage their students. They are able to ask the hows and whys behind what they are seeing. They are able to observe how various strategies work or don’t work given the level of learner, content and classroom setting,” said Dr. Robin Rackley, clinical professor in TLAC.
Mentor teachers in Tomball ISD provided the feedback below.
“The passion, dedication and resiliency shown by my student teacher is inspiring. Even though we are in the midst of uncertainty in so many ways right now, it is important that we keep our focus on our future. The student teachers have made the choice to see that it is a bright future by choosing the field of education.” – Kristin Hooser, 6th grade teacher, Tomball ISD
“Despite the student teacher placement being virtual, I found that it was very helpful and stress relieving for myself as a virtual teacher. My student teacher has done a marvelous job helping set up slides along with recording lessons. It’s something less that I have to do so that I can focus on other areas and it also allows her to get a sense of what it’s like to teach without a present audience.” – Jasmin Rico, kindergarten teacher, Tomball ISD
“The virtual field experience has been a positive and rewarding experience for my students and myself. The TAMU student assigned to my classroom has worked with small groups in math and science labs. She has already planned and implemented review mini lessons for math and presented to students in small groups. She has worked with individual students through independent practice and post test corrections, demonstrating exceptional questioning skills.” – Jennifer Brown, 4th grade teacher, Tomball ISD
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