Janelle Thirtyacre is in her student teacher semester as an English teaching major. As a student teacher, Thirtyacre was preparing to gradually take over all responsibilities for classroom instruction while working collaboratively with her mentor teacher and university liaison. Instead Thirtyacre started her semester preparing for not just teaching both fully online and partially in-person, but finding ways to best deal with uncertainties and unexpected changes.
“Due to COVID-19, my mentor teacher and I have had to make a lot of changes in the classroom,” said Thirtyacre. “At this point, we have taught both fully online and partially in-person (alternating days in school). Because of this, a lot more class time is spent working out technical difficulties or reviewing, but the students are so happy to be here, which makes everything a little more meaningful.”
“That said, the biggest struggle for me is not knowing what is coming next or how to best prepare for the uncertainties. I remind myself daily that teachers need to be flexible and adapt as we go, so this is like free practice (albeit a very intense preseason practice). At the end of the day, one of our central goals is to figure out how to alter the classroom without losing sight of the content or community we strive to build.”
Thirtyacre is completing her student teaching at Lake Hazel Middle School in West Ada School District, and working with mentor teacher, Jeff Arvizu.