VU student-teachers keeping wheels of learning turning

April 15, 2020

VINCENNES, Ind. – At this time, the wheels on the bus aren't going round and round but the wheels of learning certainly are! Indiana’s K-12 schools are remaining closed for the remainder of the academic year due to the coronavirus pandemic, but this is not stopping student-teachers from Vincennes University. They have a special connection with their students that social distancing cannot break. 

Katie Keller, VU Student

 

VU Education major Katie Keller uses Zoom meetings to brighten the days of second-grade students at Flaget Elementary School in Vincennes. “On the first day, I made a poster that said, “Happy Zoom Day! 2nd Grade Rocks!” and I had this displayed behind me to bring a smile to the students’ faces,” Keller said.

VU Education major Collin Crabtree set up a Google Classroom and makes videos for first graders at Vigo Elementary School in Vincennes.

                                               Collin Crabtree, VU Student

“I post videos of myself reading their classroom books and asking different questions,” Crabtree said. “I also post videos explaining the packets that Ms. (Casey) Kotter made. The video includes instructions for the students and tips for the parents. It is important to help the parents as well as the students. The parents are now becoming the teacher, and we have to help them as well.”

Teachers are stepping up in many ways to best serve students during this time of need and unprecedented shift from traditional classrooms to remote learning.

 

Ann Herman, VU Professor, and Education Department Chair

“The Vincennes University Education Department is very proud of its student teachers,” Education Department Chair and Associate Professor of Education Ann Herman said. “Even though our student teachers can no longer be in the surrounding schools, they are continuing to assist their classroom teachers. They are conducting lessons via Zoom, creating virtual field trips, and reading books to students with the help of Facebook. Our student teachers are assisting the teachers with Google classroom and are even creating lessons to be done virtually. While this is an unprecedented time in the world of education, our student teachers are using this opportunity to learn firsthand how to deliver quality instruction in the remote learning format. We continue to be proud of their wonderful work ethic and creativity.”

Keller has even gone as far as sharing her phone number with students so they can stay in contact.

“Miss Keller, like all of our teachers, is finding special ways to connect with students and help them with assignments,” Flaget Principal Samantha McClure said. “She has been conducting Zoom meetings with students in the class to teach lessons in real-time. She has also mailed them fun activities such as scavenger hunts to keep students learning in a unique way that doesn't feel like school. I'm very proud of the way Miss Keller and the teachers at Flaget have embraced remote learning to find creative ways to connect with students, keep our routine and traditions alive, and continue offering high quality, Catholic education. Miss Keller has done a fabulous job representing the VU Education Department as a student-teacher at Flaget!”

Students and teachers currently don’t have the luxury of face-to-face interaction and physical bonds, but a special closeness still exists.

“I am very sad and discouraged that I am not able to physically be in the classroom with each of these wonderful second graders,” Keller said. “I am beyond thrilled that I am able to connect with students virtually. I feel that being able to have the Zoom meetings with the students is a great thing for not only the students but also for myself as a teacher. I feel that the students miss their classmates. They all want to stay after their work is done to chat and show their classmates various things. I am trying to stay connected to all of the students because I want to learn as much as possible from the things that they are doing.”

VU student teachers are fostering an environment that is providing students with the support they need to help carry them through an unusual situation.

“Education is continuous,” Dr. Cynthia Ragle, Dean of the College of Social Science, Performing Arts, and Communication said. “VU student teachers continue to assist K-12 schools and students during e-learning. Our students are confident with technology and continue to be a valuable resource for our K-12 partners. As K-12 students continue to learn in the e-learning environment, VU's student teachers are continuing to learn about student engagement and meaningful learning experiences for all students.”

Crabtree is sad he didn’t have a chance to say goodbye in person to his students, but he knows their safety is the most important thing. However, he’s looking on the bright side and relishes the communication he is able to have with them.

“This is not what I imagined when I pictured my student teaching,” he said. “This is what every future teacher looks forward to when they are completing their undergraduate degree. I am thankful that I can interact with my first graders.”

Students aren’t the only ones who are learning. Crabtree, Keller, and other student-teachers are acquiring precious experience and knowledge they’ll carry into their careers in education. They’ve strengthened their skills when it comes to facilitating distance learning, they have built a repository of technologies available to students, and have learned other valuable lessons.

“No one saw the schools shutting down for the rest of the year,” Crabtree said. “However, I now have several resources available if there's another pandemic. The teamwork I have seen at Vigo Elementary was incredible. They planned lessons in five hours, so students could continue to learn for 10 days. They also went in to make meals for the students and continued to make lessons for students. I expected nothing less from a school in the Vincennes Community School Corporation.”


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Vincennes University Newsroom

MARCIA MARTINEZ, University Life Reporter & Sports Information Director

   812-888-4164 office, 314-599-1519 cell, VUNews@vinu.edu, mmartinez@vinu.edu

VINCENNES UNIVERSITY, Department of University Relations, www.vinu.edu/newsroom

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