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Future educators ready to face classroom changes

Education students learning to use manipulatives

The past eight months have resulted in significant changes in the classroom for both students and educators. For Weatherford College students training to be educators, they are learning both sides of what it means to adapt during a pandemic.

Shannon Stoker, WC Education Department chair, said COVID-19 has not impacted students’ willingness to follow the Associate of Arts in Teaching pathway as classes are offered both in-person and online to meet the comfort level of all students. Classroom observation requirements are also taking place virtually.

“This has allowed students to continue their quest for a degree in education while doing so in the safest manner possible,” Stoker said.

She added the students' biggest concern in becoming educators is not entering a classroom during the midst of a pandemic but being prepared for the fast-paced adaptation of new technology they witnessed existing teachers undertake over the past year.

“While the use of technology has increased over the last several years and while many wonderful resources are available, most were not prepared to completely shift to the online environment in a matter of a few short weeks,” Stoker said. “This created not only issues with accessibility to students, teachers and parents, but also limitations to instructional techniques and assessment methods. In the classroom, teachers could monitor students as they work, check for understanding and offer immediate assistance. Online, it was more difficult for teachers to identify struggles unless students specifically asked or until work was submitted and online feedback could be provided.”

Carolyn Boggs, early childhood education faculty member, added students in her classes are interviewing teachers about their experiences and hosting classroom discussions about what this could mean for their future leading a class.

“We are in a constant atmosphere of change and teachers need to be prepared to be flexible and make necessary changes as needs arise,” she said. “No group or class is ever going to be like the one before. Teaching involves creative innovations and ideas that address current issues.”

Regardless of how the classroom looks on the backside of COVID-19, change is a part of any job, Stoker said.

“When I entered the field twenty years ago, it looked very different than it does now,” she said. “If you feel you are called to teach, then you’ll adapt and overcome in any situation. That’s what teachers do.

“Whatever is going on in the outside world, students will still be in the classroom and ready to learn. You’ll always have support, no matter what you are teaching through because educators always pull together and help each other out.”

WC’s AAT degree is a 61-hour program and includes courses in core subjects as well as introduction to education, introduction to special populations and a cultural diversity course.

Completion of this degree ensures students are on the right path to obtain their Bachelor of Science Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies for teacher certification.

“The degree is specifically designed to meet the standard state required courses needed to complete the BSIS and will save students time, energy and money to complete the specific AAT here before moving on to the university level,” Boggs said.

It also makes them more marketable as a substitute teacher or teacher's aide, garnering higher pay, if they decide not to complete their BSIS. They can also pursue positions as a paraprofessional in a public school, possibly a teacher in a private school, lead teacher in a childcare facility, tutorial jobs, as well as day camp and summer camp positions.

Find WC’s AAT degree plan at https://catalog.wc.edu/education/associate-of-arts-in-teaching-aat.