by Lauren McGuire, Student Public Relations Writer
In a normal year, junior primary education majors serve in local school districts, working with a mentor teacher to tutor first through third-grade students. Now, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, teacher candidates and teachers are forced to think outside the classroom to connect with students remotely.
As part of their Diagnostic and Intervention for Reading course, Cedarville students generally tutor one to three specific students in a local school district for an entire semester three days a week. Part of this tutoring includes assessing a student’s ability to read and understand sounds, phonics assessments, and comprehension assessments, essentially testing every area of reading.
During fall 2020, teacher candidates needed experience but were limited by COVID restrictions, so they partnered with homeschool families to fulfill field experience requirements.
Then in November, McKinley Elementary School in Xenia, Ohio, reached out to Dr. Megan Brown, assistant professor of education, for help tutoring their students online to bridge a gap in their students' progress due to the switch to virtual learning in Spring 2020.
“We used some of the things we did in the fall and started to brainstorm what the spring would look like,” said Brown. “In February, we offered as much consistency to our students as possible and offered the same assessments that we would in person, and our teacher candidates brainstormed lessons for the remainder of the semester.”
Tutoring online comes with its share of challenges. Cedarville students are learning how to tutor students who are in their classrooms, so it’s often loud. Google classrooms are used as a resource to help out the elementary students as they connect with Cedarville tutors online. Snow days also caused a lot of changes that proved to be tricky.
“Although it’s not ideal, it’s the best way right now to get my education students to interact with children,” Brown said. “Online learning isn’t something that is going away, so this is a very positive job skill that principals will be looking for in the future.”
Middle education students in Dr. Ruth Sylvester’s Phonics and the Structure of Language and Teaching Reading through Middle Childhood Literature courses are also tutoring students at McKinley Elementary school in fourth and fifth grade, but their program looks different as it is not a coursework requirement. Around 45 students at McKinley Elementary School are being tutored by Cedarville education students.
“The reality of the coronavirus meant that the teacher-candidate students, myself included, weren’t sure if we would be able to get experience with real children,” said Mary Kallis, a junior primary education major. “Thankfully, with technology, creativity, and a whole lot of grace and patience, we have been able to connect with and tutor students online, gaining invaluable experience with children in a modified version of the classroom.”
Located in southwest Ohio, Cedarville University is an accredited, Christ-centered, Baptist institution with an enrollment of 4,550 undergraduate, graduate, and online students in more than 150 areas of study. Founded in 1887, Cedarville is one of the largest private universities in Ohio, recognized nationally for its authentic Christian community, rigorous academic programs including the Bachelor of Arts in Primary (P-5) Education and Bachelor of Arts in Middle Childhood Education programs, strong graduation, and retention rates, accredited professional and health science offerings, and high student engagement ranking. For more information about the University, visit www.cedarville.edu.