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Eureka! Creating an Innovative Education Field Experience Partnership during Covid-19

by Susan Fuller Sies, Professor and Division Chairperson, Carroll Community College, Westminster, Maryland

When COVID-19 closed our local schools and interns could not complete their field experiences, Carroll Community College Education faculty thought “out of the box” and created a partnership with the Boys and Girls Club of Westminster (BGCW). Thirty-two Introduction to Education interns participated in the BGCW partnership from fall 2020 through spring 2021, serving a diverse group of members from ten local elementary, middle, and high schools, including Title 1.

This field experience looked very different from pre- COVID fifteen-hour internships in pre-K through 12 classrooms where students observed, assisted with lessons, and taught mini lessons. Interns became part of Operation Brain Gain. One group of interns worked virtually, creating Google Classrooms and lesson plans. Virtual interns reported their excitement learning new software and strategies for online instruction. Creating the lesson plans involved some risk taking and creativity for Education students because the majority had little to no experience with writing a lesson plan. Once our school system pivoted to virtual learning, BGCW opened its door to members from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Face-to- face interns assisted members with online learning. Following a strict COVID protocol, interns were assigned to the same group of ten Club members and mentor for the fifteen-hour requirement, learning how to navigate Google Classroom and engage a group of Club members at different grade levels and attention spans. Interns expressed the importance of gaining early first-hand experience and reassurance about pursuing teaching, making a difference with Club members, and leaving the experience as a better person and teacher candidate.

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