For many Ohio University students, the coronavirus pandemic has changed many aspects of daily life, from work to housing. But most noticeably, students have had to adjust to online learning.
For Maddie Allen, a senior studying special education, internships are where future teachers gain most of their professional experience.
“I think that's where you're learning your experiences,” Allen said. “You went to school for three years on how to be a teacher, and then, now it's your time to learn.”
Allen’s internship was in Nelsonville with a third grade classroom. She said she misses her students. In lieu of seeing them, Allen, parents and teachers from the class have started a Facebook page for the students. Allen is still connecting with her classroom virtually and occasionally records herself reading a book aloud for her students.
Allen graduates this spring and is nervous about starting her teaching fellowship.
“I feel like I'm underprepared,” Allen said. “I don't know how to teach math yet. (This semester) I wanted to get a feeling of how to teach.”
Allen said her instructors have been helpful during this situation, but it feels like she can’t make up for the lost time.
”I was cut for six weeks of learning how to become a teacher,” she said.
Allen said that in the meantime, she’s taken to doing her own research on becoming a teacher by looking at articles and standard tips.
Like Allen, Kiley Ciroli, a junior early childhood education, has a Facebook page where she can keep in touch with her class.
“The students’ parents and other teachers are on every week,” Ciroli said. “I try to still be teaching them read-alouds and content areas.”
For Ciroli, the pandemic presents a time difficult for both students and teachers. Trying to keep school work as normal as possible is helpful for everyone right now, she said. Ciroli feels though this has delayed her teaching experience, it won’t set her back.
“It’s sad, and I miss students and miss the experience (but) in a way, I’m still getting a new experience and a good learning experience,” Ciroli said.
Ciroli said during this time she’s able to record and watch herself teach and analyze her teaching. She feels with the extra time, she’s now able to reflect on her skills in a new way.
The pandemic came at a time of transition for Lindsey Watrobsky, a sophomore studying early childhood education. She was set to do field work right after spring break. To make up the field hours, she said she’s been assigned alternative work. It’s not the same, she said.
“Watching a documentary and writing a paper — (it’s) kind of a pain because I’m just not getting the experience I wanted,” Watrobsky said.
For Watrobsky, there’s only so much education majors can learn through online work.
“It definitely stinks not being there,” Watrobsky said. “Our major specifically is based on experience.”