Teacher’s college students haven’t had it easy during the COVID-19 pandemic. With schools across the province going through different phases of lockdowns and multiple closings and reopenings, students have faced a multitude of interruptions regarding their schooling.
Teacher’s college students are required to complete 80 placement days in order to graduate. In pre-COVID times, this means being in a classroom as a student teacher at four different schools for 20 days each. Most teachers college students have completed two out of their four placements, the majority being online.
The problem with virtual placements is students do not get crucial hands-on experience of being in the classroom. Also, with placements being delayed and moved around, students are constantly waiting for updates regarding their program. Rohit Malhotra, a teachers college student at Western University, is still without a placement this term.
While many students have been put in virtual placements this term, some will be in the classroom, and have had previous placements in person as well. This comes with difficulty as student teachers must abide by COVID protocol, meaning they must accommodate their lesson plans accordingly. For example, group work hasn’t been allowed in classes to minimize close contact among classmates, which means student teachers miss out on valuable lessons. Teachers college students are also learning remotely, meaning less interaction with co-teachers.
Education Minister Stephen Lecce announced at Queen’s Park on Thursday that March break has been postponed to the week of April 12. Many students’ third placements were set to end the week before the original March Break. Now, they must wait for word on when their fourth placement will get scheduled.
The students are missing valuable experience while learning remotely, and if COVID-19 worsens again, their graduation may get pushed back.