Today Magazine Spring 2021 - Page 4


Teaching with Mercy

By : Kirsten Swanson

Every future teacher has envisioned what the first day in front of a classroom would look like .

Alexis Howard ’ 20 has been dreaming of that moment since she was a teenager . What she couldn ’ t imagine was that half of her class would be in the classroom and the other half would be at home meeting with her in an online format .
“ My last semester at GMercyU was not what I expected as a freshman . My student teaching placement was 100 % remote ,” Alexis said .
Despite the unusual start to Alexis ’ teaching career , she was able to secure a job prior to graduation .
Midway through virtual studentteaching , Alexis ’ cooperating teacher asked for her resume to share with the principal and HR department . A month later , Alexis had interviews for various positions with the school district .
“ My position changed several times before I officially started a month later . I began my job prematurely in early December due to the need for teachers during the pandemic ,” Alexis said .
Alexis is currently working as a third grade teacher with the Abington School District and is teaching in a hybrid model . She has three groups of students . Two groups alternate days in the building ; another group that is 100 % virtual is live-streamed into her classroom daily .
“ One thing I have taken away from this experience is regardless of an educational format , equity plays a vital role in education ,” Alexis said . “ As teachers , we must think outside of the box to provide an equitable education to all of our students regardless of the instructional model .”
While nothing could have prepared Alexis for the unique challenges of teaching during a pandemic , she is confident the Mercy values she learned will guide her .
“ Things are continually changing for young children . It is vital that students feel as though they have a connection in a classroom ,” Alexis said . “ When I first began my position , it was important that I got to know my students before speeding 100 miles per hour into the academic component . I frequently check in with my students and create a safe place for students to share . As an educator , I believe students thrive in a nurturing environment , which is necessary during COVID-19 .”
Learn more about Alexis ’ GMercyU experience and post-graduation journey here .
When the world shut down in March 2020 , GMercyU ’ s Education department had to pivot . Only a few students have been able to return to live classroom observations as a part of the Teacher Apprentice Program , which puts undergraduate education majors into classroom observations beginning in their first semester .
To ensure these future educators are getting the real-world experience GMercyU ’ s Education program is known for , Coordinator of Field Placements Cheryl Malfi pulled together seminars for “ TAPpers ” to review , discuss , and reflect on live instructional videos .
“ All students are viewing exemplary instruction and pedagogy and assess and learn from the lesson based upon the Danielson Framework ,” Dr . Malfi said . “ What I have attempted to do is to provide a rich look into an actual classroom , to provide our students with almost as good an experience as being in the classroom live , on-ground .”