School of Education moves forward with student teaching program

Baylor students in the School of Education will have to adapt to the new educational environment caused by the COVID-19 pandemic during their teaching experiences. Trisha Porzycki | Reporter

By Trisha Porzycki | Reporter

Baylor’s School of Education is pushing forward as their student teachers head back to local Independent School Districts.

Students must spend time in the classroom during each year at Baylor, with experiences concentrated in their junior and senior years of the education program, preparing for real-life teaching situations. Due to circumstances caused by COVID-19, many wondered if this would remain a requirement.

The School of Education and local ISDs have worked together to plan student teaching experiences in the time of COVID-19.

“Because we have great partnerships with our districts, we have been flexible, and they are equally as flexible. We can create an experience, although different, equally as valuable, equally as valid and equally as rigorous,” Associate Dean of Undergraduate Education Suzanne Nesmith said.

Those who felt uncomfortable returning to Waco this semester were able to request full online placement. Due to technological capabilities and local ISD’s flexibility, Nesmith stated that the School of Education honored all requests.

Nesmith said they are taking great precautions for both Baylor students, local teachers and Waco students. Each student teacher and intern must complete a daily health screening before stepping onto their assigned campus. If the student does not pass the screening, they are sent home.

Houston senior Brittney Bryant is spending her semester as a student teacher and said her classroom experience so far has been well thought out.

“Our original school start date got pushed back two weeks,” Bryant said. “During those extra two weeks, I had in-service with my mentor teacher and spent time with her, without any students, implementing our COVID rules and making sure our classroom was a safe environment for them.”

Bryant said the School of Education did an excellent job preparing student teachers for the semester.

“We have a university liaison that is assigned to us,” Bryant said. “They have been accommodating. They have been very understanding that we are Baylor students, going through an internship is a lot of time, especially in the middle of the pandemic. At first, they only knew as much as we did, but ever since then, they did a great job at giving us all our training online and making sure they understood exactly what the COVID precautions were at each of our assigned schools.”

Despite their best efforts, the future is still uncertain. However, if things take a turn for the worse, the program feels confident student teachers will have a great experience entirely online.

“We are well-positioned, and we have well-positioned our students that if the districts or Baylor goes online, we will continue without skipping a beat,” Nesmith said.

Even with COVID-19, the School of Education and Nesmith remain upbeat that they can still provide their students with a valuable experience.

“Baylor student teachers and interns are getting prepared for the classroom. That is the hallmark of teachers,” Nesmith said. “Teachers have to be flexible, and you never know what will occur. This is real life.”

Correction: September, 10, 2020.

This article has been revised to reflect the following corrections: An earlier version of this story said “College of Education” in place of “School of Education.” Student teachers and interns were treated as different groups in the original, and the story has been modified to reflect that they are the same. The first quote was also shortened to get rid of its repetitive nature.