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Student Perspectives On Earning A Teaching Degree During The Pandemic

Nov 6, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed life as we know it in a multitude of ways. Children are now logging in for remote learning. More parents are working at home, having to quickly adjust to the challenges that come with this remote learning. And socially distanced gatherings have replaced the traditional weekend playdate. With all the effort required to adapt to these unprecedented times, pursuing a degree might be the furthest thing from your mind, or perhaps you feel you have to put it off for later. But a huge bright spot among all the uncertainty is that you don’t have to put it off. 

From the beginning, WGU has focused on helping current and future teachers pursue their education in a way that works for them. And nothing, not even “the new normal,” can stand in the way of this continuing to happen. Through good times and challenging times like these, you can count on WGU to continue helping you obtain a degree online and at home—in a way that works best for you. At WGU, student coursework for education programs is entirely online and can be done any time you want. No need to log in at a certain time. No need to worry about assignment deadlines. You do your coursework whenever it works for you and your busy life. WGU’s competency-based education model allows you to move forward in courses as quickly as you prove mastery of the material. If a concept or course is more challenging, you can take more time with it. If it’s a course or concept that you understand well, then by all means, you can buzz right through. 

To give you a real-world sense of how the pandemic has impacted students pursuing a teaching degree, we invited two students currently in the student teaching phase of their programs to share their experiences. 

What was it like for you when the pandemic hit?

Barry Kelly (B.A. Special Education) “I was just about to start my Preclinical Experiences (PCE) observations. I only got in three hours before the school I was observing got sent home not knowing about when they would be able to return.” 

Brittani Frazier (B.S. Science Education–Middle Grades): “I was near the end of my PCE and was about to teach a lesson that I had created when the schools shut down,” said Brittani, a mother of four children in elementary school. “So I went from focusing on students to focusing on my own kids.”

How would you describe your experience with student teaching during the pandemic?

Barry and Brittani are among many WGU students who were concerned about how they would complete the student teaching portion of their program amid the pandemic. Barry has found it challenging but is striving to stay positive. “I have approached it with the mindset of if I can be successful in this trying time, then I believe I can handle it during normal circumstances,” he said. “I have been fortunate that the district I am doing my student teaching in is 100%, five days a week in person.” 

Brittani, too, has discovered positive aspects among the challenges and has managed to stay motivated and optimistic. “My host teacher was 100% virtual, so we worked really hard to give our students the feeling of involvement during labs,” she said. “We created our own interactive notebook for the students to work in and take notes. This was very time-consuming but worth it in the end.”

What WGU resources have you found to be most helpful in your student teaching during the pandemic?

Barry: “My cohort seminar was an exceptional resource. It was very relevant and provided me with some helpful tools. It also gave me the opportunity to bounce ideas off other students and collaborate.” 

Brittani: “WGU has an amazing website for online field experiences tips and tricks. They have provided many links to help create review games, sketch notes, and how to engage students who are not with you.”

What advice would you give to others who are on the fence about pursuing an education degree during the pandemic?

Barry: “Do it. It has given me a different perspective that sometimes is overlooked. I never would have thought online instruction for elementary and high school students would have been feasible, but this pandemic has proved that it can be a success.” 

Brittani: “Do not let the pandemic be your deciding factor. The education field is forever growing and changing. The best advice I could give is to make the right choice for you with the age group you want to teach. Once you figure out the age, everything else seems to fall into place. WGU has a great support system within their mentors, professors, and placement coordinators. They will give you everything you need to succeed and cheer you on along the way.”

Special thanks to Barry and Brittani for sharing their experiences. Like them, you too can pursue your teaching degree with WGU when the timing is right, or even when it feels like it isn’t. WGU will be there for you so you can adapt your educational goals to the times and let nothing stand in the way of your dreams. 

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