Placing student teachers harder for area colleges amid pandemic |

Placing student teachers harder for area colleges amid pandemic

Updated: December 02, 2020 11:13 PM
Created: December 02, 2020 09:53 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Although several districts are reporting a shortage of teaching staff because of the pandemic, finding placements for student teachers hasn't been easy. 

The New York State Education Department released a statement this week saying it's more important than ever "that the pipeline of prospective teachers remains open and active." 

News10NBC's Emily Putnam found that might be easier said than done.

"I think it was overwhelming in the beginning, but we were able to place all of our students," Shanna Jamanis, with the Nazareth College School of Education said.

This week, state officials urged district superintendents to "continue to welcome student teachers into schools and classrooms, whether in-person or remotely."

"The idea of taking on a student teacher is just one more stressor, and so the amount of teachers willing to take student teachers has decreased. I think it is a little bit more of a challenge to secure placements," SUNY Geneseo's Interim Director of Field Experiences Jennifer Haines said.

Despite the added challenges, SUNY Geneseo was also able to secure placements for all 138 of its student teachers this fall. 

"It's a challenge, but it's a doable challenge. It's something we have definitely overcome and we're gonna continue to overcome," Haines said.

Changes in coursework were required to prepare student teachers for their placements this fall, with a focus on managing classrooms virtually.

"We restructured an entire course to provide them with instruction around virtual teaching strategies and assessment, and almost gave them a crash course in how to create a classroom community in a virtual environment," Jamanis said.

"I think the biggest challenge or the biggest hurdle, especially for our fully remote students—student teachers is they don't get the classroom management piece," Haines said. "Yes, there's classroom management on a computer, but it's very different than what it is in the classroom."

Program administrators stand behind this recent advice from the state, saying having a student teacher can be mutually beneficial. 

"We heard from a lot of schools who emailed us personally and said we're not sure we could've gotten our fall up and going if we hadn't had the support of your teacher candidates with us," Jamanis said.

Click here for full coverage of how coronavirus is impacting schools.

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