A group of college students sitting in a classroom having a conversation around how to teach online

Affinity Group Reflection: How are we preparing teachers to teach online?

Author: Samantha Goldman; info@ciddl.org

Since last year, the CIDDL and CEEDAR (Collaboration for Effective Educator Development, Accountability, and Reform) centers had hosted a series of Affinity Group meetings where participants from different stakeholder groups shared their insights into effective ways of building the capacity of higher education faculty to support the critical development of K-12 educators to plan, design, and deliver effective instruction. To serve as a culminating event CIDDL hosted this webinar to reflect on topics discussed in the series of meetings, with an emphasis on exploring more strategies that better serve students with disabilities in online contexts with regard to their executive functioning, assessment, and engagement. The conversation was facilitated by Dr. Sean J. Smith, Samantha Goldman, Rachel Silva, and Keane Alavi. Watch the webinar recording for a rich and resourceful conversation.

Affinity Groups focus on giving key stakeholders the opportunity to share resources with the motto of “listen and share.” The CIDDL/CEEDAR Collaborative Six AG meetings covered different topics with regard to how to prepare teachers for the online and hybrid environment. Below are the various topics, associated blog posts, and a brief synopsis of what was covered:

Why Online Learning?

At this opening Affinity Group session, virtual teachers at the elementary and secondary levels shared about their typical days, serving students with disabilities, and a comparison of the online environment to the brick-and-mortar.

Evolving Roles and Experiences in Virtual Classroom

In this session, we discussed how offering Free and Appropriate Public Education was impacted during school closures. Colleagues from the University of Mary Washington, Virginia, Dr. Kevin Good, Dr. Melissa Jenkins, and Dr. Jennifer Walker shared their research regarding COVID-19 Practices in Special Education: Stakeholder Perceptions and Implications for Teacher Preparation.”

Teaching Methods and Curriculum Part 1 & 2

This session covered tools to embed in your teacher preparation programs to bring back to their students, including social-emotional, literacy, executive functioning skills, and assessment. While facilitators in the meetings modeled the use of various digital tools that can support teaching collaboration,  we provided specific tips for using Pear Deck and Jamboard.

Practica and Field Experiences

This session invited a seasoned teacher educator, Dr. Marti Elford,  to share how she supported teacher candidates in the online and hybrid classrooms. This conversation focused on the need to develop standards around virtual practicum, as the current emphasis continues to be practicum in the brick-and-mortar environment.

Collaboration with Families

In our final meeting, Jill Reffett, a parent and advocate joined us to discuss the point of view of parents. She shared how her daughters benefitted from virtual schooling and discussed the importance of working as a team with parents. The session concluded with a discussion about virtual IEPs.

Summing Up

The webinar concluded by walking attendees through a resource that included tools, articles, and other strategies to support higher education faculty as they prepare pre-service teachers to teach in the online and hybrid environment. To get access to these resources, hop over to our community! While you’re there, we would love to hear about your experiences and thoughts on preparing pre-service teachers for teaching in online and hybrid environments.