‘I looked forward to seeing them every day’: Student teacher explores new territory of online education

(Photo Courtesy of Kiara O'Dea)

Kiara O’Dea, senior in secondary education and a student teacher in the Blue Valley School District, was asked to prepare for a longer spring break than usual.

As COVID-19 spread through the United States, school districts began closing their doors for the rest of the semester. After Blue Valley made the switch, O’Dea had to adjust to student teaching online.

“Before spring break, there had been discussions that we might be extending our break for a week, but they mostly seemed like rumors,” O’Dea said. “My [cooperating teacher] and I were somewhat prepared for having to work from home, as we brought tons of materials home with us just in case, but it’s still been a huge adjustment.”

O’Dea said not seeing her students every day was the biggest adjustment she had to make.

“I looked forward to seeing them every day and now I don’t get to see them again in a classroom setting, that’s been really hard to adjust to,” she said.

O’Dea said she sometimes has trouble staying focused at home or her internet connection won’t support her whole family. O’Dea also said that despite the tough experience, she is thankful for what she’s learned.

“I’ve been lucky in that I was already leading the classroom before everything fell apart,” she said. “While this certainly isn’t the traditional student teaching experience, I’m learning how to plan around difficult circumstances and create activities to help my students learn in whatever environment they are in.”

She hopes it will prepare her for her career.

“It certainly isn’t ideal, but I do think I will be as prepared as a new teacher can be at the end of this semester,” O’Dea said. “I think this experience is helping me learn how to be flexible and get to the heart of what my students really need to learn.”