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Teacher candidates reported new learnings, new ways of communicating, collaborative planning, teaching opportunities, and problem-solving for real-world issues in real time, Peters said. (Photo illustration)

Education prepared for 2nd pandemic wave

UM reportedly Manitoba's only faculty to complete practicum during lockdown

July 20, 2020 — 

As University of Manitoba bachelor of education students look forward to fall term, they can rest easy that the Faculty of Education is ready in the event of a second pandemic wave.

MORIN

“We would be able to support them in school practicum courses—either in a virtual, or face-to-face environment,” said Associate Dean Undergraduate, Francine Morin. “That’s what we did last year. That’s what we plan to do this year and that’s what we would do moving forward.”

‘We would be able to support them in school practicum courses–either in a virtual, or face-to-face environment.’
—Associate Dean Undergraduate, Francine Morin

At a Western provinces’ education conference this spring, Beryl Peters, director of the Practicum and Partnerships Office said that of all the faculty representatives she talked to, the U of M was the only Manitoba faculty to successfully deliver practicum during the pandemic lockdown.

Alleviating stress and worries for new students

“It might be very reassuring to our new teacher candidates attending Orientation in August to know that our practicum was successful,” Peters said. “There was a lot of learning, and students were able to complete their practicums. That might help alleviate stress and worries for new students.”

Peters said teacher candidates and practicum advisors alike reported new learnings, new ways of communicating, collaborative planning, teaching opportunities, and problem-solving for real-world issues in real time.

New digital tools and resources

“The development of creative and innovative new digital tools and resources has led to new ways of engaging learners and their communities,” Peters said, adding that many cooperating teachers, teacher candidates and practicum advisors said that they would be still using some of the new tools as a part of their regular practice.

Peters headshot

PETERS

In feedback, teacher candidates (TCs) and cooperating teachers (CTs) reported checking in on their students to monitor how they were dealing with stress and workloads and whether they understood their assignments.

“All of them [TCs] are embracing this new reality with professionalism and a commitment to making this work for everyone. They are eager to support each other and their CTs in developing the virtual learning spaces required at this time,” reported one CT.

Another CT reported how teacher candidates are learning new skills they otherwise would not have learned.

“My Teacher Candidates are finding this unexpected experience, while stressful and very concerning, to also be a highly positive learning opportunity; they are working with media, resources, and different teaching strategies that they would not otherwise have experienced.”

‘When we get positive feedback from the field and from our students and from our practicum advisors, we can feel pretty good that we responded to the situation.’
—Associate Dean Undergraduate, Francine Morin

Teacher candidates reported drawing on a number of technical resources from Google Classroom, Hangouts and Docs, Facetime, Seesaw, Microsoft Teams, What’sApp, among others.

“I’m very much looking forward to the next few weeks because I know I will develop skills and pedagogy that I would never had developed had the practicum gone as planned. I’ll use these practices and skills in my career even if school returns to ‘business as usual.’ Classrooms are increasingly developing virtual capacities and this experience will help me to adapt and take advantage of the opportunities created by technology.”

In addition to receiving positive feedback from teacher candidates and cooperating teachers, both the Manitoba Teachers’ Society and the Manitoba Association of School Superintendents reported that the U of M practicum courses in the virtual environment were very successful, Morin said.

“When we get positive feedback from the field and from our students and from our practicum advisors, we can feel pretty good that we responded to the situation,” Morin said.

For more information about the Bachelor of Education program at the Faculty of Education, University of Manitoba, or to apply now, click here. 

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