Preparing future educators to teach virtually

Before they can teach your kids virtually, educators need to learn the practice themselves
Published: Aug. 12, 2020 at 8:40 PM CDT
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STEVENS POINT, Wis. (WSAW) - As students prepare to go back to school for the Fall semester, some in-person and others virtually, educators and future educators are doing the same.

“The School of Education and the faculty that teach our methods courses across campus, it really touches every department on campus, has been really thinking through the formats we need to use and how to engage our students; how to get experiences for our students out in the schools or with children K-12, and how to get them ready for virtual environments,” explained Maggie Beeber with UW-Stevens Point’s School of Education. “The skills these new grads are going to have compared to even a year ago are going to be very different.”

Those skills will include virtual training made available to all education students as well as faculty and current educators looking to improve their virtual education skills.

“The Department of Public Instruction just met with all of the schools of education and announced that they did get some CARES Act funding,” Beeber explained. “Their website already has a number of resources for teaching online, but they did announce that CESA 1 is going to be providing webinars, online training and online courses. They’ll be able to use that in their resumes and in their future job prospects.”

CESA is an education consultant servicing districts around the state.

Abbi Landrum is a junior at UWSP in the education department. The Green Bay native decided she wanted to be a music teacher to help students find the same passion that she has found for the arts. Preparing for the Fall semester, she’s choosing to look at the benefits of learning to teach virtual courses.

“You’re always looking at ‘How can I teach this subject to a class of students but still meet their individual needs?’” Landrum said. “Our professors are having us look at how we can put these lessons online so they can be self-paced but still guided by a teacher and meet their individual needs while still making those bench marks and understanding concepts so they can move on in their education.”

While Landrum admits teaching music through a screen can present some significant challenges, she made sure to highlight the benefits that online instruction can bring for students as well.

“You can see just exactly how they’re progressing, how long it’s taking them,” Landrum added, who says it will also provide a future foundation helping students stay caught up. “Down the road, say there’s a snow day or, God forbid another pandemic, I have at my disposal, my lesson plans in every possible format that I could possibly need. If a student was out sick, I could send them the lesson plan, also, and they could still be caught up and still return to class at the same spot as the other students who were in class.”

As educators and future educators continue to prepare to embark on this new virtual journey, Beeber stressed the importance of community support.

“This is a time where we need to support our educators,” Beeber said. “We’ve got educators that are going to be teaching face-to-face, online, a combination of some online, some fact-to-face so they’re going to be preparing to be teaching all different groups of students all at the same time. They’re under enormous stress and they care so much about their students. We can never forget that’s why they’re there.”

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