"Into the Unknown": Supervising Teacher Candidates During the 2020 COVID-19 Pandemic

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Steffany Comfort Maher
Alan Zollman


In mid-March, our public schools ended classroom instruction due to COVID-19. The timing of the suspension of face-to-face instruction was in the middle of the student teaching clinical experience for our secondary education teacher candidates. Without preparation, teacher candidates were to guide their middle and high school students through online learning. University faculty were experiencing a similar challenge — how to support and direct their teacher candidates in mid-experience.

This was a change in the logistics of teaching and in the focus of education. The first priority of the school was not high-stakes standardized testing, nor daily pacing guides, but rather the emotional and social health of students.

            This change in the schools’ priorities fit well with the preparation of our teacher candidates at our Midwest regional teaching university. Our focus was to prepare teachers of students, not teachers of mathematics or English. While our secondary teacher candidates did not have all the tools and technology skills needed to switch to online teaching immediately, they did know it was the relationship with the learner that was most important.

The second change of the schools’ priorities was a time-allocation switch from mostly teaching to mostly planning, communicating, and supporting one another as teachers. Our teacher candidates already knew that effective communication makes everyone a better instructor and benefits student learning. In order to help our teacher candidates make this transition, we developed the Clinical Practice Interview Protocol and met with our candidates regularly online.

            A third aspect was teacher candidates’ prior experience as students of online classes themselves. Many had taken several online or hybrid university courses and knew what worked well and what they needed to avoid as an online teacher.

            In this reflective essay, we discuss how the university supervisor supported and facilitated our teacher candidates in preparing and implementing quality instruction.


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How to Cite
Maher, S. C., & Zollman, A. (2021). "Into the Unknown": Supervising Teacher Candidates During the 2020 COVID-19 Pandemic. Journal of Teaching and Learning With Technology, 10(1). https://doi.org/10.14434/jotlt.v9i2.31437
Reflective Essay