Today’s post comes to us from Kathy Kidd, one of the ELC program directors and the instructor this spring for CFS 470, a senior practicum experience for students in the Pre-K-3 licensure program. Kathy has been with the ELC for over 20 years and is currently teleworking from home with her family.
March happened. It arrived with uncertainty and ever so slowly built to a crescendo of confusion. Those of us who have long been settled into a routine were abruptly striving to make sense of our new reality.
Like so many others, our CFS 470 senior practicum students at the Early Learning Center suddenly found themselves right in the messy middle of all this hard new. Gone was the known they had worked hard to establish since joining us in January. Absent was the comfort they had reached in their roles as active collaborators and contributors in our classroom communities. No choice. No control. Just a hard new.
These teachers had no reference point to even begin to imagine this was how their senior year would unfold. Suddenly they were grappling with anxiety about replacing meaningful classroom moments with webinars and podcasts, they were managing disappointment with a spring break departure from campus that refused to end, and they were processing grief over lost life experiences including graduation and the opportunity to say a proper goodbye to their undergraduate college career. Like everyone facing this hard new time, they had big things to process.
We knew in January this was an engaged and competent group of early childhood teachers. What we saw from the start was their interest in connecting with children, families, and colleagues, and their desire to become active participants in their ELC classrooms. When a global pandemic came along and offered to veer them off course, it did not extinguish their passion to teach and to learn. Any one of them can attest to feeling the fatigue of constant change and uncertainty. That is a shared experience we can all relate to across these days, weeks, and months. Yet they have collectively and individually been discovering more about themselves—finding perseverance and resilience—and recognizing the source of these strengths originates both from within, and from the relationships and connections they have with others.
Our CFS 470 students deserve a shout out for showing up in many ways across this unprecedented semester. They have brought warmth, humor, and meaningful engagement to their classrooms. They have figured out how to be present with children, how to observe carefully, and how to trust that children will show us what is useful and interesting to them. They have faced and named their own vulnerabilities as they attempt to settle into new routines, experiment with novel ways to maintain connection and relationship, and make meaning around present-day realities. They are teachers, colleagues, and friends.
Thank you (from top left), Erin (Kindergarten), Cassie (Maple), Mikayla (East), Alex (West), Rebecca (Hickory), Allie (Magnolia), Katie (Dogwood), and Becca (Sycamore). You are awesome!