How Does Remote Learning Affect Student Teaching?

With Penn State moving classes online for the next few weeks due to the coronavirus pandemic, professors have had the challenge of adapting their classes to be held remotely. However, not all classes can just be converted to a Zoom lecture. While labs have much more hands-on components, student teaching is an entirely different situation.

Seniors who enrolled in CI 495 can’t just take their classes online, because they aren’t actually taking coursework through Penn State. Their grades come from the teachers who they work with at which the schools they are placed.

So when Penn State announced it was suspending in-person classes last week, before Governor Tom Wolf closed all of the state’s schools, those who were student teaching were, at the time, still required to return to their host schools and resume student teaching. Penn State could not change that because that is what the state of Pennsylvania requires for accreditation. In total, they need to have 150 hours of pre-student teaching and 12 weeks for student teaching in order to earn their license.

While Penn State can’t do a whole lot to change requirements for these student teachers, they have been keeping student teachers in the loop about what is happening and what they need to do to be prepared moving forward.

“The Department of Education isn’t changing those requirements at this time,” senior Kendyl Guisto said. “However, we are supposed to have a Zoom meeting with the State College Area School District Wednesday and Thursday to learn about how to provide online learning to students, which will count towards our pre-student teaching hours.”

Guisto also noted that students were informed that they would go back to their school when the state allowed for school to be in session “as long as they felt comfortable.”

Megan McCluskey, a senior who is apart of the Professional Development School (PDS), described a similar situation but noted that PDS has a few differences compared to what other student teachers have been told.

“For PDS, I know we are definitely not going back to the classroom until at least April 6,” McCluskey said, adding that she also had more Zoom meeting requirements due to the fact PDS is a year-long program that allows students to be in school during the whole school year.

Like other majors and pretty much everything related to the university, there is a cloud of uncertainty regarding the future of student teaching. If the university decides to continue remote learning through the end of the semester, but Governor Wolf opts to open the schools back up in May, the students who student-teach would need to go back up to State College to complete their student teaching.

This isn’t a grade requirement or a graduation requirement for Penn State; this is something that these students have to do in order to get a job once they do graduate. So it isn’t an “if” they go back, for them it is “when.” There are a lot of questions that come with that as well.

Where would these students stay? Will it affect graduation? Will they still get accreditation from the state even though schools were shut down for a period of time? These are all questions that these students have that the university doesn’t have the answer to yet. “Yet” is the key word there.

In this time of uncertainty, everyone has questions about how things will go. And while in some cases the university has handled situations poorly, but this isn’t one of them just yet. The fact is that Penn State’s hands are tied, and they’ve done the best they could with the information they have.

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About the Author

Owen Abbey

Owen Abbey was a Secondary Education major before he graduated from the wonderful institution known as Penn State. When he was not writing for the blog, he enjoyed rooting for the Baltimore Orioles and Ravens, supporting Penn State basketball and softball, dreaming of all of the ways he would win the TV show "Survivor," and yes mom, actually doing school work. All of this work prepared him to teach his own class of students, which was always his true passion. He still can be found on Twitter @theowenabbey and can be reached for questions and comments at [email protected]

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