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Student becomes the teacher: Fast lesson in online learning

Student becomes the teacher: Fast lesson in online learning

Michelle Gregg ’21 May 05, 2020

Senior Cole Hepp and his fellow student teachers have had the ability to adapt tested as they have transitioned to distance teaching for their K-12 students. While this means something different to everyone, Hepp, an adolescent to young adult education major focusing on social studies, has remained positive.

“Serving students under all circumstances is being sure that you still find ways to educate the whole person.”

“Serving students under all circumstances is being sure that you still find ways to educate the whole person — education should be academic, spiritual, social and emotional,” Hepp said.

Man stands at a whiteboard in a classroom
Cole Hepp in his classroom at Chaminade Julienne before the pandemic. 

Hepp reflected on how his time teaching history at Chaminade Julienne High School in Dayton has not gone the way he expected — a notion many can relate to. Hepp had to leave the classroom he started at in the fall and transition to online coursework. On April 20, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced schools would remain closed to in-person instruction for the remainder of the academic year due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

“The school has put out guidelines and recommendations to teachers to best help the students manage an online high school workload,” Hepp said. “It is also neat to see how various administrators, teachers and campus ministers send out prayers and messages of hope during this crazy time to help maintain a sense of community.”

Katy Weaver, clinical faculty member for UD’s educational field office, has been working closely with the student teachers. She has helped them navigate distance teaching through instructional videos, online activities and meeting with families about class work.

“We often speak about the inequalities that exist in education, and school closures have only shown the disparities that exist even more than before,” Weaver said. “There are students who may need packets created in order for them to pick up from boxes outside their schools because they don’t have access to technology, especially now that libraries are also closed. Some of our students may have even been part of packing lunches and preparing for the other side of education that extends beyond the classroom.”

For UD student teachers, the empathy they feel for their students is real, as they too feel separation from their school and their classmates.

students n a Zoom screen call
A virtual meeting of all the UD students who have completed their student teaching for the adolescent to young adult program in integrated social studies. 

“In addition to academics, such a large part of a high school experience is going to school with friends, the community built in a classroom, playing sports, participating in extracurriculars and forming bonds with various members of the school,” Hepp said. “I was hoping that my final days as a student teacher could have been in person. It is also difficult that I am not able to finish out my senior year on UD’s campus with my roommates, friends, mentors and peers.”

Though the situation is not ideal, the experience the student teachers are receiving will move them closer to becoming professionals. Connie Bowman, chair and associate professor of the Department of Teacher Education, has informed students of the changes that have been put in place in Ohio to accommodate those whose student teaching experience has been affected.

“Ohio is granting a one-year provisional license for student teachers who are unable to complete the state tests,” Bowman said. “This will give those students an extra year to apply for their license.”

Students such as Hepp are looking forward to becoming licensed teachers.

“I feel a call toward helping young men and women learn.”

“I decided to study education and become a teacher because I feel a call toward helping young men and women learn, discover their passion and ultimately develop into the men and women God is calling them to be,” Hepp said. “With the hopes of working for a Catholic school, I am excited to be part of the strong community of faith that is often part of Catholic schools.”

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