The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly disrupted the ability of teacher education programs to place their teacher candidates in typical K-12 teaching settings as a part of learning to teach. This project examines how simulated classroom field experiences for preservice teachers can be implemented in online and emergency remote teacher education courses.
Learning to Teach During COVID-19: Leveraging Simulated Classrooms as Practice-based Spaces for Preservice Elementary Teachers within Online Teacher Education Courses
School-based field experiences are a critical part of preservice teacher education. The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly disrupted the ability of teacher education programs to place their teacher candidates in typical K-12 teaching settings as a part of learning to teach. This project examines how simulated classroom field experiences for preservice teachers can be implemented in online and emergency remote teacher education courses. Elementary mathematics and science teacher educators are provided with opportunities to engage their preservice teachers in practice-based spaces using mixed-reality simulated classroom environments. These simulations are real-time lessons with animated student avatars that are voiced by an interactor who is responding to the teacher's lesson in real time in ways that represent authentic student thinking. This project aims to develop support materials for integrating simulated field experiences into elementary mathematics and science teacher education courses. The research will seek to understand what preservice teachers learn about teaching from these experiences, how teacher educators integrate the simulated field experiences into coursework, and how such simulated experiences can be integrated in remote, online courses in ways that support preservice teacher learning.
This project advances knowledge through the development and deployment of simulation-based tools that develop preservice elementary teachers' abilities to teach mathematics and science. Preservice teachers use performance tasks to deliver instruction in the simulated classroom. The project develops support materials for teacher educators to integrate this work into online and/or emergency remote teacher education courses (in response to COVID-19) in ways that support engagement in ambitious teaching practice. The project assesses impact on preservice teachers' ambitious teaching practice through artifacts of the simulated classroom practice, including observations and recordings of the simulated interactions and preservice teacher surveys and assessments of their use of ambitious teaching practices. The project evaluates the ways in which teacher educators integrate the simulated field experience into their emergency remote teacher education courses through surveys and interviews. The research addresses the immediate COVID-19 pandemic challenges in providing field experiences for students and provides long-term support for the ongoing challenge of finding field experience settings that are conducive to preparing highly-qualified elementary mathematics and science teachers.