As Pandemic Upends Teaching, Fewer Students Want to Pursue It

Kianna Ameni-Melvin’s parents used to tell her that there wasn’t much money to be made in education. But it was easy enough for her to tune them out as she enrolled in an education studies program, with her mind set on teaching high school special education.

Then the coronavirus shut down her campus at Towson University in Maryland, and she sat home watching her twin brother, who has autism, as he struggled through online classes. She began to question how the profession’s low pay could impact the challenges of pandemic teaching.

She asked her classmates whether they, too, were considering other fields. Some of them were. Then she began researching roles with transferable skills, like human resources. “I didn’t want to start despising a career I had a passion for because of the salary,” Ms. Ameni-Melvin, 21, said.

Few professions have been more upended by the pandemic than teaching, as school districts have vacillated between in-person, remote and hybrid models of learning, leaving teachers concerned for their health and scrambling to do their jobs effectively.

For students considering a profession in turmoil, the disruptions have seeded doubts, which can be seen in declining enrollment numbers.

A survey by the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education found that 19 percent of undergraduate-level and 11 percent of graduate-level teaching programs saw a significant drop in enrollment this year. And Teach for America, which recruits recent college graduates to teach in low-income schools across the country, said it had received fewer applications for its fall 2021 corps compared with this period last year.

Credit…Rosem Morton for The New York Times

Many program leaders believe enrollment fell because of the perceived hazards posed by in-person teaching and the difficulties of remote learning, combined with longstanding frustrations over low pay compared with professions that require similar levels of education. (The national average for a public-school teacher’s salary is roughly $61,000.) Some are hopeful that enrollment will return to its prepandemic level as vaccines roll out and schools resume in-person learning.

But the challenges in teacher recruitment and retention run deeper: The number of education degrees conferred by American colleges and universities dropped by 22 percent between 2006 and 2019, despite an overall increase in U.S. university graduates, stoking concerns about a future teacher shortage.

For some young people, doubts about entering the teaching work force amid the pandemic are straightforward: They fear that the job now entails increased risk.

Nicole Blagsvedt, an education major at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, felt a jolt of anxiety when she began her classroom training in a local public school that recently brought its students back for full in-person learning. After months of seeing only her roommates, moving around a classroom brimming with fourth and fifth graders was nerve-racking.

Ms. Blagsvedt’s role also encompassed new responsibilities: sanitizing fidget toys, enforcing mask use, coordinating the cleaning of the water bottles that students brought to school because they couldn’t use the water fountains. In her first week, she received a call from an office assistant informing her that one of her students had been exposed to Covid-19, and that she had to help shepherd the students out of the classroom so it could be disinfected.

“This panic crossed my mind,” she said. “I thought: This was what it’s going to be like now.”

Administrators running teacher preparation programs said the new anxieties were most likely scaring away some potential applicants. “People are weighing whether or not it makes sense to go to a classroom when there are alternatives that may seem safer,” said David J. Chard, dean of the Wheelock College of Education and Human Development at Boston University.

But for many students, the challenges posed by remote teaching can be just as steep. Those training in districts with virtual classes have had to adjust their expectations; while they might have pictured themselves holding students’ hands and forming deep relationships, they’re now finding themselves staring at faces on a Zoom grid instead.

“Being online is draining,” said Oscar Nollette-Patulski, who had started an education degree at the University of Michigan but is now considering swapping majors. “You have to like what you’re doing a lot more for it to translate on a computer. I’m wondering, if I don’t like doing this online that much, should I be getting a degree in it?”

In some instances, remote teaching has deprived education students of training opportunities altogether. At Portland State University in Oregon, some students were not able to get classroom placements while schools were operating remotely. Others were given only restricted access to student documents and academic histories because of privacy concerns.

Credit…Benjamin Norman for The New York Times

At the university’s College of Education there was a decline in applications this year, which the dean, Marvin Lynn, attributed to students in the community hearing about the difficulties in training during the pandemic.

Applications may tick back up as schools return to in-person learning, Dr. Lynn said, but the challenges are likely to outlast this year. Educators have struggled with recruitment to the profession since long before the pandemic. In recent years, about 8 percent of public schoolteachers were leaving the work force annually, through retirement or attrition. National surveys of teachers have pointed to low compensation and poor working conditions as the causes of turnover.

The pandemic is likely to exacerbate attrition and burnout. In a recent national study of teachers by the RAND Corporation, one quarter of respondents said that they were likely to leave the profession before the end of the school year. Nearly half of public schoolteachers who stopped teaching after March 2020 but before their scheduled retirements did so because of Covid-19.

This attrition comes even as many schools are trying to add staff to handle reduced class sizes and to ensure compliance with Covid-19 safety protocols. Miguel A. Cardona, the secretary of education, recently called for financial help to reopen schools safely, which will allow them to bring on more employees so they can make their classes smaller. The Covid-19 relief package approved by President Biden includes $129 billion in funding for K-12 schools, which can be used to increase staff.

Not all teacher preparation programs are experiencing a decrease in interest. California State University in Long Beach saw enrollment climb 15 percent this year, according to the system’s preliminary data. Marquita Grenot-Scheyer, the assistant vice chancellor for the university system, attributes this partly to an executive order from Gov. Gavin Newsom, which temporarily allowed candidates to enter preparation programs without meeting basic skill requirements because of the state’s teacher shortage.

Teachers College at Columbia University in New York City also saw an increase in applications this year, according to a spokesman, who noted that teaching has historically been a “recession-proof profession” that sometimes attracts more young people in times of crisis.

Even some of those with doubts have chosen to stick with their plans. Ms. Ameni-Melvin, the Towson student, said she would continue her education program for now because she felt invested after three years there.

Maria Ízunza Barba also decided to put aside her doubts and started an education studies program at the Wheelock College of Education at Boston University last fall. Earlier in the pandemic, as she watched her parents, both teachers, stumble through the difficulties of preparing for remote class, she wondered: Was it too late to choose law school instead?

Ms. Ízunza Barba, 19, had promised to help her mother with any technical difficulties that arose during her first class, so she crawled under the desk, out of the students’ sight, and showed her mother which buttons to press in order to share her screen.

Then she watched her mother, anxious about holding the students’ attention, perform a Spanish song about economics.

Ms. Ízunza Barba said she realized then that there was no other career path that could prove as meaningful. “Seeing her make her students laugh made me realize how much a teacher can impact someone’s day,” she said. “I was like, whoa, that’s something I want to do.”

Source: As Pandemic Upends Teaching, Fewer Students Want to Pursue It – The New York Times

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References

Agrba L (27 March 2020). “How Canadian universities are evaluating students during the coronavirus pandemic”. Maclean’s.

Safeguarding Importance In An Ever-Growing Online Education World

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With the introduction of the digital age, online safety for children has become subject to an influx of threats from a whole host of intimidatory factors.

Unsurprisingly, COVID has heightened safety concerns, especially for children and it is our mission to ensure that their online safety is secured to the best standard ultimately to save lives.

The harsh facts about safeguarding online

The BBC produced an article stating that:

“child deaths increased from 89 to 119 and those seriously harmed rose from 132 with 153 compared with the same period in 2019.”

This is according to data from The Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel when conducting a report on the number of serious incidents reported from April last year. So why is this a concern?

Evidently, an increase in child deaths is the significant issue as another child death becomes an additional statistic yet, it doesn’t correlate to what effect it has internally on all parties concerned. With the emerging digital age, it is vital that everything online is scrutinized and it is our responsibility as educators to guarantee a child’s safety.

Reducing the number of deaths is the obvious priority but subsequent factors of the online world such as crime, county lines, sexual abuse and grooming all have increased. A survey produced by Children’s Commissioner for Wales Professor Sally Holland stated that:

“four in 10 of the 17-year-olds taking part in her survey said they felt lonely most of the time while 30% of 17 to 18-year-olds said they felt worried most of the time.”

Isolation and loneliness will lead young children to become involved in dangerous predicaments as their intrigue is raised. This is where online safety is paramount as it is an accessible route for criminals to target potential victims to exploit.

According to the Children society:

“County Lines has contributed to 807% increase in children referred for support by councils in relation to modern slavery.”

With this excessive increase, it demonstrates how important safeguarding is in online education. Gangs will utilise social media as a ploy to flaunt a lavish lifestyle and lure young children into Country lines due to their naivety and inability to comprehend that they are indeed victims.

Not only will children be exploited for financial gain, but online it allows predators to seek out young vulnerable people for their own gratification through grooming. Last year the NSPCC stated the Police recorded:

“over 10,000 online child sex crimes in a year for the first time.”

But not only in the UK is this prevalent, the problem is increasing Internationally. The Times reported that in Thailand during the pandemic:

“Police and child protection organizations say that cases of abuse, including the extracting of pornographic images from children, increased last year by as much as 40 per cent.”

With less school time because of recent lock downs, it has led to less education whilst increasing vulnerability. With schools now reopen it is critical that children are being supervised.

In addition to this, the UK has seen an increase in radicalization. COVID has led to more seclusion resulting in close relatives and friends taking advantage of young children. Sky reported that over the past 2 years there has been:

“more than 1,500 children under the age of 15 [who] were referred to the Prevent counter radicalization programmer.”

Ultimately the diminishment of social interaction due to COVID that young children will have with their peers and teachers leaves them exposed, further highlighting the importance of safeguarding young children online.

Educational barriers need to be broken online

Online education is a valuable asset as it enables learning remotely and breaks down the barriers at home unveiling a glimpse of what may be going on behind close doors.

Unfortunately, not all children can be monitored online due to a number of factors, one including, inadequate resources due to socio-economic backgrounds.

A tragic example of safeguarding importance lies with Chadrack Mbala Mulo, 4. Had there been sufficient communication between his school and home prior to his mother’s death, he may still be alive. He died from starvation as a result of being unable to feed himself due to him being mute and having autism.

His unexplained absences, which were not pursued in thorough depth, ultimately led to his death. Remote online education would have ensured that his scarce logins on education portals would have raised flags and an investigation would have occurred properly.

Sadly, this is just one case of thousands who are at risk in similar situations exemplifying why safeguarding children who are learning online is vital.

Educating children about the dangers online is the key

Our opinion is that educating young children before they can be exposed to the dangers will be the best option to minimize exploitation.

Here at EdClass It is our mission to guarantee that every child home or abroad gets the chance to learn safely with our DBS checked staff ensuring remote learning is completed in a correct and secure manner.

All chats are recorded and sent to their corresponding schools’ server to guarantee safeguarding elements.

Our EdClass Designated Safeguarding Lead Cara Radford said:

“Safeguarding online is massively important especially during COVID when everyone is online. Pre-COVID, a lot of parents were looking into what their children were doing online but now parents are busy balancing working from home and parenting which has meant more opportunity for people that are looking to groom children.

So, educating children into not befriending people they don’t know on forums and not disclosing personal information is really important, more so now than ever.”

Source: Safeguarding Importance In An Ever-growing Online Education World – EDBlog

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How do pastoral and academic leaders differ in their approach to school management?

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Online safety is now part of the wider safeguarding requirement for schools but it is a fast changing and sometimes seemingly inaccessible world for staff. However, all members of the staff team should have at least a basic awareness of online safety so that, should an incident occur, they can respond appropriately and quickly.
This is the first in a free series of videos that will not only help raise awareness in the team but also has a partnering child-friendly version of the principles discussed to extend the training into the classroom. The content is appropriate for everyone from Senior Leadership to new to education staff in any role and can be used to support a combined staff and classroom awareness campaign. In this first episode, we look at some key elements of online safety and some of the safeguarding responsibilities of the team will need to be aware of.
Our team at the Child Protection Company have been creating high quality training solutions since 2008 and every one of our courses draws on the experience of expert safeguarding professionals. Our training courses are developed in house, and are regularly updated to remain in line with the latest government guidance and legislation.
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Why Learner Centered Education Is The Key To Meaningful School Improvement

Effective educators have long known that one-size-fits all approaches to teaching and learning are insufficient. Through extraordinary effort, they have figured out ways to differentiate and personalize learning for their students. They have done so despite an industrial-era education paradigm that makes it very difficult to do so. Over time, some of their efforts were named, systematized, and scaled.

Today, building on these approaches, some believe (count us among them) that a shift to an entirely new education paradigm is within reach. Harnessing new technologies, aided by advancements in transportation and communication, and required in order to adequately respond to deep and disruptive social, economic, environmental, and political forces, we envision a fundamental shift in how learners experience their education.

Specifically, we envision moving from a school-centric, industrial-age model akin to factories and assembly lines, to a learner-centric, networked-age model characterized by lateral connections and flexibility. In short, we envision learner-centered education. But what does the movement towards learner-centered education mean for the many methods for designing learning and differentiating support to students developed in recent decades?

In this piece, we identify some of the most-broadly adopted methods developed by educators to differentiate support, improve learning design, and meet the individual needs of learners. They include Response to Intervention (RTI), Positive-Behavior Intervention Systems (PBIS), Universal Design for Learning (UDL), and Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS). Then, we seek to compare learner-centered education to these approaches, exploring the implications for each. Ultimately, we will make the following arguments:

  1. Learner-centered education is about a paradigm shift, not a specific methodology.
  2. Learner-centered education requires learning design that is flexible and adaptive, similar to or expanding upon the principles of UDL.
  3. Learner-centered education may include specific methodologies for differentiating support (e.g. RtI or PBIS), but it is more likely to extend and/or replace them.
  4. Learner-centered education is additive to and inherently strengthens existing systems-level approaches such as MTSS.
  5. Learner-centered education is fundamentally adaptive and outcomes-focused (rather than technical and process-focused).

All of the approaches we name above recognize the same problem. The current industrial model for teaching and learning was designed based on an assembly line metaphor, expecting students to move through school in the same amount of time with more or less the same amount of support regardless of where they enter, unique challenges they may be facing, or strengths they may bring.

Within this rigid system, educators have sought ways to differentiate support. Over time, some of the techniques educators developed to provide each student the support they need have been built upon to create school and systems-level approaches. Tiered systems of support and intervention such as Response to Intervention (RtI) and Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) were developed to introduce achievable levels of differentiated support (e.g. 3 tiers) within the constraints of the industrial paradigm.

  • Response to Intervention is a multi-tier approach and framework for instruction that screens all students for learning needs, and then provides progressive levels of intervention to students on an as needed basis. Interventions scale-up in the level of intensity such as supplemental instruction within the large group (typically Tier 1), targeted small group instruction (Tier 2), and individualized, intensive instruction aimed at skill deficits (Tier 3), though tier definitions and strategies differ by school. In practice, RtI models may call for individualized interventions (problem-solving models) or preselected interventions (standard protocol models). The three essential components are tired instruction and intervention, ongoing student assessment, and family involvement. RtI originated from the goal of proactively identifying and providing special education interventions to students before they fall too far behind.
  • Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports is also a three-tier approach and framework but focused on student behavior and social-emotional development. The goal of PBIS is to proactively promote positive behavior. Similar to RtI, PBIS typically scales interventions starting with universal and proactive routines and support provided to the full classroom or school (Tier 1), then targeted behavior support (Tier 2), and lastly individualized, intensive support (Tier 3).

Recent innovations with tiered systems of support by organizations such as Turnaround for Children expand these models to include an understanding of trauma and adversity as well as taking into account how to adjust for hybrid and remote learning options.

These systems were developed based on a recognition that all students are capable of reaching similar outcomes, but require different amounts of time and support to get there. They were helpful steps towards providing each student with different amounts of time, support, and attention based on their needs. They have positively impacted tens of thousands of students in achieving desired standards however this often comes at the cost of removing students from their peers and narrowing the curriculum and will continue in such a manner as long as the traditional paradigm exists.

At the same time that these methodologies proliferated for differentiating and targeting support by pulling students out, complementary methodologies were developed for designing learning in a way that was flexible enough to meet the needs of learners with different motivations, interests, (dis)abilities, and needs. One example is Universal Design for Learning (UDL). UDL is an approach and framework for designing instruction and learning environments that are accessible to all students.

UDL emphasizes providing flexibility in how students access content (e.g., visual, audio, hands-on) engage with it, and demonstrate knowledge or mastery. The goal is to remove barriers to learning. UDL is rooted in the premise that while accommodations and flexibility are necessary to ensure learning accessibility for some individuals, they in fact benefit all individuals (sometimes in unforeseen ways) and therefore should always be in play.

More recently, attempts have been made to create overarching systems that build on and integrate these into an overall coherent framework for systems change. One example that has gained widespread interest and adoption is Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS). MTSS is a framework for meeting the academic, social, and emotional needs of students. It builds upon and may include data-driven, tiered intervention strategies such as RtI and PBIS as part of the approach.

However whereas RtI primarily focuses on academic learning and PBIS focuses on behavior and social/emotional development, MTSS aims to bring a more comprehensive lens and integrated approach to meeting the needs of learners. Moreover, MTSS is often described as a system-level approach with implications for aligned leadership, resource allocation, professional development and more.

This now brings us to the term that is at the center of our inquiry: learner-centered education. Like MTSS, learner-centered education has been growing in popularity. Learner-centered attempts to define an alternative to the industrial-era education model itself. The graphic below, borrowed from Education Reimagined, makes this clear.

Learner-centered education is about a paradigm shift, not a specific intervention methodology. It pushes education leaders to critically consider the purpose of school and to re-envision how the complete education ecosystem prepares students for the future. Learner-centered education demands that we move away from the traditional industrial model towards a transformative one that designs learning in response to the diverse needs of students.

This future-oriented paradigm requires a new set of student outcomes and aligned success metrics as part of its vision, whereas most of the above can function within the traditional set of outcome metrics. Lastly, learner-centered education goes beyond schools as the unit of change. Instead, it looks at the needs and goals of the individual learner and macroscopically at opportunities for learning within an education ecosystem.

Read More……

By and

Source: Why Learner-Centered Education is the Key to Meaningful School Improvement | Getting Smart

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Together While Apart: Classroom Communication

By their very nature, pandemics shake the systems of society, and that is certainly true for the global educational system right now. Institutions have had to adjust their entire structures, and for many educators, that has meant being thrust into remote learning environments, often without time to study or plan for the change. Until now, many educators have rightfully spent the bulk of their energies on meeting students’ most urgent needs, checking on physical and mental well-being first. Now, though, we find ourselves beginning to plan and conduct actual instruction, and the realities of remote learning bring new challenges. However, it may also bring opportunities to innovate, and, in the way of teachers across time, chances to flex our problem-solving muscles.

Our hope is that the Turnitin team can support you in ensuring student needs are met. This post, the first of three in our Together While Apart series, is part of our effort to help, but that’s not all that we’re doing. We have officially launched Turnitin’s Remote Learning Resources page and populated it with all the best materials, including past publications and a stockpile of brand new content specifically designed to meet the challenges of remote learning.

Remote learning is a broad term encompassing many different approaches. Often, these approaches fall into two brackets – synchronous or asynchronous. When classes meet at specific times in much the same way that they would in person, except that some form of technology is connecting everyone, that is known as synchronous learning. Because of the emergency nature of COVID-19, many institutions are finding themselves more likely to pursue asynchronous learning. In asynchronous learning, collective meetings are not always happening in real-time, and students often independently access content, assignments, and assessments virtually (or even through paper formats, in some places) on widely varying schedules.

Of the many shifts in instructional delivery, one of the most dramatic will be the methods by which educators communicate with their students. The challenges there will impact nearly every aspect of asynchronous instruction, so let’s begin there.

Instructor Challenge: How will I help my students combat a feeling of having limited live access to personalized support?

Strategies:

  1. Set up specific shared times for discussions, question and answer, etc. so that students CAN schedule around the time and check-in if they need to. Make sure to set these times up in advance to increase the possibility that students will be able to participate. For students who can’t join in real-time, record those sessions and post them so that students won’t be isolated or miss out on critical conversations. Additionally, this will build in opportunities for peer interaction and support, which can be critical to the learning process and may help feelings of isolation, loneliness, and even depression that can occur when working remotely. This is a common phenomenon for people working remotely and is likely to present a similar problem for some students.
  2. Offer 1:1 time slots on the calendar for students in the event that they need more support. In addition to the shared times for interaction, many students will want or need some individual interaction with instructors. It’s important to give them time and space to ask questions, seek out individualized clarification and support, and to simply connect.

Instructor Challenge: How will I ensure that my students always know WHEN learning activities are occurring and WHERE to find the information they need?

Strategies:

  1. Set up a centralized communication hub with ALL relevant information. Students can link out to the various tools and materials you’ll use, but they will have this as a home base of sorts.
  2. Establish a calendar! Set up a shared calendar where you list all relevant dates and can allow students to use it to schedule their own learning activities and time with you. Pro Tip: Feedback Studio users can use the Class Calendar tool to do this inside the system for ease of access to the information. 
  3. Consistent communication methods – pick the right tool for a task and then stick to it. Try making a list of all the different kinds of communication tasks involved in your instruction, and then match each to a communication TOOL that will best fit the purpose. For example, giving an overview of an assignment is different than providing ongoing feedback throughout an assignment. Which is the best tool for each? You need something that is well suited to longer, more comprehensive sets of information for the overview, but you need something fast and tied to specific student work for the second. Be thoughtful about the tools you select. Once you match each task with a particular tool, make sure you document that and share it with your students. Keep it in a location where students can easily access it over time too.

Once you select a tool, use it consistently! For example, try to avoid announcing some assignments through email and then some on a discussion board and still others on Twitter. Using other communication methods as back-ups are fine, but always utilize the one established upfront so there isn’t any confusion about where to access information.

Instructor Challenge: Since I am not communicating in person with my students, how will I avoid misalignment or misunderstandings about expectations, processes, or products?

Strategies:

  1. Anticipate questions or misunderstandings and address them upfront. It might help to picture a particular student and ask what questions they might have. By answering them in advance, you are more likely to head off any confusion and save both yourself and your students wasted time and effort. Additionally, you will ensure that every student has the right information whether they ask for it or not.
  2. Over-communicate – If you think your students already know your expectations, spell them out anyway. Sometimes, we make assumptions about how students think, but students surprise us. Losing physical proximity can complicate this even more. Outside the physical environment of a classroom, students sometimes fall back into the patterns of their new space. “I’m learning from my kitchen table, where I feel relaxed and easy-going.” Sometimes, those changes infect their thinking about work and expectations in unproductive ways. Therefore, it’s important to take the time to reassert those expectations and processes so that they carry over into students’ work.
  3. Document – To the greatest extent possible, write down and/or record–audio or video, and with captions, if available–all information so that students can access it repeatedly. This might seem incredibly time-consuming, but the upfront investment will save time later as you’ll be able to refer students back to it anytime you need to, and you’ll find that you are able to re-use it. Since students won’t be accessing instructions or content at the same time, recording it in writing or through another medium means that they can read or hear it from anywhere, any time, and as MANY times as they need to. Just think… this might actually mean that you don’t have to answer the same question 10 times! Additionally, it means that students can repeat information without any fear of judgment from their teacher or their peers, and you will have done so in a way that encourages them to seek out critical information they need rather than passively waiting.
  4. Provide feedback about expectations and processes, not only products. Students will make mistakes. In many cases, asynchronous learning is new to them too. Include opportunities to practice new skills within the tools they use and the processes involved, and make sure you give them feedback. Doing so has the added bonus of building their sense of agency and taking ownership of their own learning. Pro Tip: Be honest about your mistakes and what you have learned from this process so that students understand that learning is messy and requires us all to be reflective.

Students and teachers alike are overwhelmed by all that has changed in such a short time. That means that the “soft skills” that go into effective educational practices are perhaps more essential than ever. At its most fundamental level, education is built on relationships and communication.

 

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