Virtual student-teaching: How ‘20 Fisher education graduates are entering the COVID classroom scene

By Jessica D'Amico ’24, Media Management

By Jessica D’Amico ’24, Media Management

As schools and teachers across the Rochester area get ready for this year’s fall semester, graduates of St. John Fisher’s School of Education prepare to begin student-teaching from behind the screen of a computer. 

Despite the abrupt changes to traditional classroom procedures because of COVID-19, the School of Education has worked diligently to ensure its students will successfully integrate into the unprecedented new world of online learning. 

Fisher’s first step in this preparation was the placement of over 200 student-teachers in schools spanning across the greater Rochester area. Alison Bosworth, Director of Clinical Experiences at the School of Education, explained how running this process this year was unique compared to years past.

“It was a little different because we had to have a lot more conversations with the districts working with our students,” Bosworth said. “They had to ensure that our students would follow not only the Fisher protocols for safety and health, but also the district’s protocols.”

Besides coordinating placements, the hardworking faculty at theSchool of Education provided numerous training sessions and online materials that would help prepare its student-teachers for instructing virtual classes.   

Bosworth elaborated on what resources were made available to this Fall’s upcoming student-teachers. “We did a training on trauma in the time of COVID-19 and what that means for K-12 students. We also gave them a training on hybrid strategies so that they understood more about working in a hybrid online world, as well.” 

Because most classes will be conducted online, meaning zero face-to-face interaction with students, teachers and student-teachers alike plan to get creative in keeping their classes engaging and interactive. 

Ashley Cahill, a Fisher student-teacher working this Fall at Durand-Eastman Intermediate School, explained how she and her resident teacher, Katie Bryce, plan to implement unique online platforms and applications into their virtual classroom. 

“Especially for the little ones, it’s really hard to keep students engaged, even more so now that everything’s online,” Cahill said. “So we’re going to be using a lot of different apps and trying to come up with interactive things that they can do from home so that they’re not just staring at a screen all day.”

When asked about what drove Bryce’s decision to work with a student-teacher this Fall, she explained it was her desire to provide valuable classroom experience to those who needed it. She also expressed how fortunate she felt to have been assigned an enthusiastic Fisher student-teacher like Cahill. 

“To be honest, I was hesitant at first,” Bryce said about initially deciding whether or not to have a student-teacher. “But I knew that I was lucky to have the student-teacher that I got. She seemed so gung-ho and open, and I really wanted to be able to give her this experience.”

Bryce and Cahill’s third grade class will be conducted exclusively online, with both women streaming from their own personal devices on opposite sides of the classroom. Cahill knows this will be a teaching experience like none she’s ever had, but equipped with the knowledge, training, and support she received from Fisher, she feels she’s ready to take on the challenge.

“I was nervous before I got my placement just because I knew how much work student-teaching is and how much time I’d have to put into it. But once I did a bunch of trainings for online teaching through Fisher, I felt that they really helped prepare me for this one of a kind experience,” Cahill stated.

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