Conductor: Kristina Hernandez, senior music education major and clarinet emphasis, conducts the Rossville Senior High Band at the League Festival. Hernandez is a student teacher and has continued to instruct her students remotely.

Wesley Tabor

“COVID-19 has helped Washburn student teachers develop a unique skill set,” said Education Field Placement Director Craig Carter. “I think this has been a ‘silver lining’ for them [student teachers], because they are learning to deliver instruction remotely which is a great skill to have…Following this, I believe that they will have the skills to be able to deliver instruction remotely again someday if required.”

Student teachers have quickly learned how the education environment can change – how the process of adaption looks and what steps it takes to teach remotely.

According to Carter, student teachers are also working with mentors to develop and execute continuous learning plans for their specific districts.

Continuous learning plans for each of Kansas’ education districts was established on March 2020 by the Kansas Department of Education, KSDE.

The primary goal of the Continuous Learning Task Force was to develop guidance for Kansas educators to meet the immediate need for supporting learning outside of normal practices, according to the KSDE.

These guidelines have helped, but the common belief is that nothing can replace seeing students in-person each day.

“The most notable difference between traditional teaching and teaching online is relationships with students,” said Sara Schlange, a senior biology major who has been teaching at Washburn Rural Middle School. “I don’t have the chance to talk to students in the hallway, laugh with them about a joke in class, or get to see the smiles on their faces each day.”

Carter understands the adjustment to social distancing can be difficult for educators.

“They [student teachers] were devastated because they didn’t get closure with their mentor teachers or students because of the quarantine over spring break,” said Carter. “Most are doing fine now but many have gone through periods of depression and anxiety.”

Kristina Hernandez, senior music education major and clarinet emphasis, has been teaching at Rossville Junior/Senior High School and Rossville’s Grade School working with the band and choir.

Hernandez said a lot has changed in how she interacts with her students.

“Bands and choir thrive on group collaboration,” said Hernandez. “Although we cannot make music together, they are completing weekly playing exams and listening reflections.”

Hernandez thanks her mentor teacher, Garrett Jones, for keeping her in mind while making the transition to distance learning.

“I am incredibly thankful for my mentor teacher’s dedication to keeping me involved during this time,” said Hernandez. “He [Jones] has been selfless in making sure that I get the most out of my student teaching experience.”

Make sure to follow the Washburn Education Department Facebook Page as the department is honoring its student teachers on social media.

Edited by Shelby Spradling, Diana Martinez-Ponce, Abbie Barth