Teacher candidates learning to teach in Covid-19 conditions

A woman explaining something to a child in a classroom.
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Teacher Candidates Learning to Teach in COVID-19 conditions

Team members

  • Dr. Kathy Sanford
  • Dr. Tanya Manning-Lewis
  • Thiago Hinkel

About this project

The purpose of this study was to determine what conditions that best enable teacher candidates to learn from and with teachers about curriculum, the diversity of students, the context of their schools, and how teachers continually adapt to changing conditions.

What led to this project?

The research team had an interest in how a group of teacher candidates were completing their only practicum due to the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic. The researchers examined how the candidates learned their roles as teachers in different conditions than they had imagined.

What did the researchers do?

The researchers conducted three interviews with 14 teacher candidates. Interviews took place at the beginning of practicum, four weeks in, and last week of practicum.

Project findings

Researchers divided their findings into summaries of each of the three rounds of interviews. These summaries reflect the change in student attitudes over the course of their practicums.

Round 1 interviews

Researchers identified three types of teacher candidates:

  • leaders/visionaries
  • responders/implementers
  • resistors

Many resistor students were focused on the self in terms of classroom management and behavioural issues, meeting UVic requirements for their practicum, and not feeling prepared to start their practicum.

Round 2 interviews

Some of the initial resistor teacher candidates began moving from focusing on student behavioral management to facilitating students’ learning, addressing diversity and inclusion, and supporting creative and critical engagement with activities and materials.

Round 3 interviews

  • All of the participants completed their practicums and many were hired as teachers on call.
  • The teacher candidates valued the relationships that they built with their students and mentors.
  • Teacher candidates affirmed and reaffirmed their desire to be teachers by learning in real scenarios experiences such as providing feedback, using diverse text, and adapting spaces for learning experiences and needs. 

What can we learn from this study?

  • For teacher candidates, compatible mentor/mentee matches are important in the learning process by mentors supporting and challenging candidates at the same time.
  • Some participants were not able to include aspects of practicum that they wished , like Indigenous content or inquiry-based approaches.
  • There was limited opportunity for place-based work and spaces to focus on issues of diversity.
  • COVID-19 did not really limit the way in which pedagogy was enacted.
  • Most classrooms are comfortable with Learning Management Systems (LMS), like Google Classrooms.

How can you use this research?

  • For teacher mentors: this research shows that the relationship between mentors and mentees are crucial, and the way that mentors support their teacher candidates can have a big impact.
  • For students: this research shows that through practice teacher candidates gain confidence in their interactions with their students beyond behavioural control over the course of their practicums. This study shows that these experiences of growth throughout the practicum are common, and that there is often an adjustment period between being students themselves and being actively involved in teaching in a classroom