Student teachers innovate to reach young learners at home

Student teachers in the University of Maine College of Education and Human Development are demonstrating resilience and innovation to help youth learn at home during the coronavirus pandemic.

Kaylee Grindle, a first-grade student teacher at the Dedham School, teamed with her mentor teacher to compile learning packets and distribute them to families at a drive-thru at the school.

Each day, the senior from Bucksport, Maine videotapes herself reading aloud picture and chapter books, and shares them with students via a Facebook group. She chooses picture books with themes of love and kindness “to try to lift up their spirits during this time.”

Olivia Murphy, a third-grade student teacher at Asa Adams Elementary School in Orono, created a simple form for children to fill out that incorporates social-emotional learning concepts. The senior from Hudson, New Hampshire wanted students to be able to easily share their feelings, respond to prompts and maintain important personal contact with their teachers.

Derek Gagne and his mentor teacher at Orono High School set up Google Classroom for the Earth and Physical Science, Honors Earth and Physical Science, and Forensics classes. And they’re transitioning to Google Meet for video conferencing with students.

Gagne, a senior from Auburn, Maine, draws on his laptop screen so students get visual and verbal instruction and he assigns short reading and video/animations with attached questions. For the final 10–15 minutes of each class, there’s a debrief so students can ask clarifying questions and/or discuss content.

“As we begin to get more accustomed to this new norm, we are continuing to adapt and change our strategies as needed to meet the needs of class differences and individual needs,” Gagne says.

UMaine strives to place teacher candidates with qualified mentor teachers at schools in close proximity to the University of Maine for field experience. Teacher candidates already have taken several methods courses prior to their field experience course, for which they teach five days a week.