“Perspective is important. It’s not just happening to you, or us, what’s happening in the world is happening to everyone. Make the best of it.” – Erica Frosst

Just as the end was in sight, teacher candidates from the Faculty of Education had to quickly adjust their end of year and graduation plans due to physical distancing measures and the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes the cancelation of all convocation ceremonies for spring 2020. Teacher candidates and students from across the university will no longer be able to walk across the stage at Grant Hall this May and celebrate their achievement with friends, family, and the faculty who have helped them along the way.

In March 2020 many teacher candidates (TCs) found their Alternative Practicums abruptly canceled or dramatically changed just a few weeks (or even days) in. The Alt-Prac experience, which asks TCs to find an educational placement outside the typical classroom setting, is something students like Emily Sparacino had been looking forward to for years. Emily had just begun her placement at The Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto when COVID erupted and she was sent home. Though she was able to work out a solution developing an educational resource for the museum, it wasn’t quite the experience she had hoped for.

The switch to remote learning for classes has also been a significant shift. “You make so many great friends during your time at the Faculty and having it cut short without much notice was a really difficult pill to swallow,” Emily says. Faculty instructors, quick to adapt to the new format, adjusted courses for remote delivery. Soon-to-be-graduate Christina DiMaria comments, “I have been able to FaceTime friends for the purpose of projects and that has also given me the opportunity to stay connected socially.” In education, relationship-building and working together are keys to success. Teachers are known for their flexibility and by undertaking virtual group work (or using family members to help complete tasks!) current teacher candidates utilized creative options for completing the last few courses of the B.Ed. program.

Though a formal Queen’s convocation ceremony will have to wait, that’s not stopping Erica Frosst from celebrating the occasion. She is organizing a living room convocation with her immediate family and looks forward to sharing the event, virtually, with friends and family far and wide. “Doing it virtually actually allows me to include more people in the day,” she says. “It’s nice that I can have so many more people celebrate this milestone with me.”

A new cohort of teacher candidates began their program earlier this month. Though the start of the program looks different for this group, the heart of teacher education remains the same. After all, be it rain on your class trip or switching to remote learning in a crisis, adaptability is the hallmark of a good teacher. Emily has the following advise for the incoming class: “As a future teacher you will be expected to be flexible with the school, administration and most importantly with your students. In a time of such uncertainty it is most important to be flexible, to be understanding and to allow yourself and others to make mistakes. We are constantly learning, and this is an area we are new in. The more flexible you allow yourself to be, the easier this transition will be.”

Congratulations, graduates!  We’re proud of all you have accomplished in the program and we’re sure the tenacity you have shown these past few months will make you incredible teachers to future students.

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