Students teaching experience hindered by COVID-19

Rilee Malloy | Staff Writer

Mason student teachers are preparing to miss out on valuable teaching experiences in the three weeks post Thanksgiving break.

Claire Eckel is a senior education major at Miami University. Her college made the decision to go to remote classes after Thanksgiving break to enforce COVID-19 guidelines. Because of this, Eckel is unable to finish the last three weeks of her student teaching semester in the building.

Eckel taught under Advanced Placement (AP) Statistics teacher Steve Mays as a part of her student teaching experience. Eckel was unable to come into the building for the first week of school which was followed by two 14 day quarantines. Much of her already limited semester was spent teaching through zoom. Eckel believes the three weeks after break would have had a significant impact on the relationships she could have built with students.

“I felt like I didn’t get enough time to build relationships in the beginning,” Eckel said. “I’m just starting to build connections so it’s tough. I wish I had three extra weeks.”

Eckel was excited to not only be there for her students inside the classroom, but to also support them outside of the building. Eckel fought to have her semester of student teaching at the beginning of the school year — she wanted to be able to experience homecoming, football games, and other events throughout the year with her students. Due to COVID-19 guidelines, Eckel and her students missed out on experiences together.

“Things like the Pep Rally and teachers having those outside-of-the-school experiences [with] the students,” Eckel said. “Being at games and being able to cheer on their students, I feel like I’m missing out on that and that’s one thing that I was actually really looking forward to.”

Although COVID-19 has caused Eckel and other student teachers to miss out on some experiences, Eckel believes that teaching during a pandemic has left her better equipped to teach in the future. Eckel herself was at one point teaching through a computer. But the way 

her and Mays have set up their classroom, when learning, a student could hardly tell a difference.

“We have a TV set up so students can zoom in,” Eckel said. “We have a mic on us during every class. We have prepared everything in the classroom so that [quarantined students] would feel like they were in class. Things like this are going to stick for a while in aspects [of teaching] so the fact that I have his experience the first time that I’m teaching [is beneficial].” 

For Eckel, her semester teaching amidst a pandemic has further reiterated that this is that career she wants to pursue. Despite missing out on some of the extra experiences that come along with being a teacher, she has still felt the magic that she hoped for when she came into this profession.

“I’ve [enjoyed] teaching seniors and this is their last leg,” Eckel said. “Going to school [and hearing] what they’re doing and what their plans 

are and [them] asking for advice — I have the tiniest bit of a role in where they’re going and that’s just an awesome feeling. I can’t wait to feel that for the rest of my life as a teacher.”

Eckel has learned many valuable lessons from her semester teaching during a pandemic. Despite missing out on many valuable experiences inside and out of the classroom, she has also learned many lessons that she would have missed out on rega the pandemic. Eckel believes if given the opportunity, she would not go back and re-do her student teaching semester without COVID because she knows she gained more experiences than she lost.

“Don’t look back on things and feel like you know you wish it would’ve been different,” Eckel said. “I was allowed to stay here and the fact that Mason stayed open has been a godsend. [It’s all about] appreciating what you have and what you get to experience even though sometimes it’s different than what you expected.”