At institutions striving to maintain face-to-face field placements and instruction amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, circumstances changed daily in response to new developments at the university, local school districts, and personal circumstances. This mixed-methods study explored and evaluated the adaptations made to early childhood teacher preparation courses in an undergraduate program in order to provide relevant training through a variety of instructional modalities including face to-face, virtual, hypothetical, and mixed reality. Focused on maintaining professional standards through adapted coursework designed to meet student learning outcomes, instructors reflected on multiple instructional modalities and analysis of demonstrable learning outcomes for students in a four-year bachelor’s degree program resulting in state teacher certification. Data were collected from students from three different cohorts (n=26) through course assignments, reflections, and instructor- and self-assessments. Results highlight several areas where students found success in meeting professional standards in new ways including: knowledge of development, relevant and responsive curriculum, collaborative engagement, cultural and familial knowledge, inclusive and individualized design, and flexibility and adaptability. Students were prepared to teach in the following ways: designing curriculum, implementation, and reflective practice. Students felt unprepared to teach citing needing more practice and continued skills development. These findings highlight the need for flexibility in the face of the pandemic and underscore the importance of using the new knowledge and practices generated about student learning to reinvent early childhood teacher education programs when faced with post-pandemic realities. (author abstract)
Maintaining professional standards in early childhood teacher preparation: Evaluating adaptations to fieldwork-based experiences during COVID-19
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