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Struggles and Strengths of Being Preservice in a Pandemic

This excerpt is reprinted with permission by Lenger Kang (2020). Minor amendments to the text have been made in accordance with ATA style.

In her article “Struggles and Strengths of Being Preservice in a Pandemic,” author Roberta Lenger Kang states that “We still don’t know all the ways the COVID-19 pandemic will alter the teaching and learning landscape, but we can use it as a catalyst to be even more proactive about supporting first-year teachers in the coming school year.”

The following are must-haves for new teachers:

  • a network of support: increased opportunities to get to know colleagues, a support ‘seminar’ group for new teachers to share experiences, and increased guidance from their school leader;
  • increased mentoring: more robust opportunities to connect with a seasoned teacher on a formal or an informal basis; and
  • feedback and collaboration: organized opportunities to coplan with colleagues in similar teaching contexts (same grade level or content area) as well as nonevaluative observations.

Preservice teachers who completed their field experiences during COVID-19 bring the following traits to the table as first-year teachers:

  1. a view of both sides: as preservice teachers during a pandemic, these individuals have pivoted from face-to-face university courses to online learning while working with their cooperating teachers in developing online student instruction; and
  2. character in crisis: preservice teachers experienced very challenging situations, a shortened training period and status quo turned on its head, yet those who were successful have accepted these challenges and are moving on.

The defining characteristics of 2020 preservice graduates include resilience, creativity and commitment.