This semester has been quite a whirlwind. We have never experienced anything like this in our lifetimes, and you are experiencing this during your final student teaching semester. We have been thinking about you a lot over the last several weeks, and we have appreciated your flexibility, commitment, and persistence in continuing your learning. We know that stepping out of your in-person classroom with your students must be heart-breaking, and although you may see and interact with your students online, the absence of face-to-face interaction is so difficult. We also know that you might be experiencing anxiety right now about your certification, how you will manage to complete the required number of days/hours, and how will you continue to learn and grow as you prepare yourself for your first year of teaching next year. Our coordinators have gathered information from you about your needs, your particular situations, and your questions. We have that information and we are going through it now to be able to respond and support you.
As we move forward through the rest of the semester, there are many unknowns and uncertainties, but please be confident in knowing that we are here to support you. We will be figuring this out together week by week. Most of you are already in touch with your cooperating teachers and are already engaging with virtual planning; others of you are working on that now, and you will hopefully be connected soon.
We know that one thing you have been thinking about is Texas Education Agency's (TEA) requirement for 70 days of clinical student teaching. We have been advocating for you and for your certification with TEA, and they have heard us. TEA has just announced that they will only require a minimum of 35 days of student teaching, so you do not have to worry about that anymore. This waiver eliminates the possibility of your certification being in jeopardy due to this requirement.
At the same time, we are still only halfway through the semester and there is more learning to do. As you continue your student teaching semester, you will engage with your Cooperating Teachers (CTs) virtually in both planning and eventual online teaching. We know that everyone is in a slightly different kind of context or situation, and you will work with your coordinator to work out the plan that works best for you and your CT. During this time, we will support you through regular (virtual) seminars with your coordinator/supervisor, regular meetings with your field supervisor, virtual observations by your supervisor (if possible in this new online teaching environment), and the provision of additional resources for your continued learning. You will work with your coordinator to understand ways of documenting and reflecting on your experience over the next few weeks; this will likely include keeping a log of your time and a reflective journal to document all the ways you are learning and growing as a teacher.
Also, lean on your cohort community, including your cohort coordinator, at this time. Each of you in your cohort will have a slightly different experience, and you will all be learning different things. We hope you will learn from each other and be a support to each other during this time.
Beth Maloch & Sharon Evans