Before the pandemic, LCCC students in the Early Childhood Education courses would go to pre-schools in different communities to sign up and get their in-class hours. Students were required to have 105/120 in-class hours in ECED 283 (Student Teaching I) or ECED 285 (Student Teaching II) classes. These hours would consist of observing the classroom and teaching the preschoolers. When the pandemic hit, there were no pre-schools available to LCCC students, and another opportunity to get hours had to be found.
In the 2020 fall semester, the Children’s Learning Center, LCCC’s pre-school, partnered with LCCC’s ECE program in order for students to receive their hours. Cameras were set upon in the classrooms so footage of the students could be recorded for students to view online. Professor and ECE Program-Coordinator Kathleen Head, Ph.D., felt this was the most logical choice to make in order to keep the learning going.
George Taylor, technical application specialist, and Will Green, video services leader, helped with the recording process for the program. Taylor and Green trained the team on operating the cameras and other aspects of the technology.
CLC Director Michele Henes, teachers Marlene Tirado and Amy Jo West also contributed to the program.
Lynette Brausch, CLC’s administrator, helped coordinate for the students to pass the class with the videos. Brausch edited, reviewed, and published the videos for the students.
Brausch said, “It has truly been a team effort to implement this new setup. There was much trial and error during the first semester.”
Professor Mia Spanu also reviewed and selected videos for her ECED 283 and ECED 285 courses. LCCC students would record themselves presenting a project about themselves or reading a book for preschoolers.
Preschoolers, after watching these videos, would discuss with their teachers. ECE students did not interact with the preschoolers live. Images of the teachers were placed around the camera and the preschoolers could leave messages and stories for the student-teachers.
Preschool teacher Amy Jo West said the preschoolers “loved” the idea of the camera. West described the camera as having a dragon shape. West said that the preschoolers interacting with the students via the camera helped convey the communication of preschoolers, as students were able to get the feeling of how it is to interact with the preschoolers. Students would tape themselves in a few instances such as reading a book for the preschoolers.
West said that the children were cooperative with the COVID-19 guidelines, and she did not hear any complaints.
With not physically being in the classroom, it could be a harder challenge to accurately show the ECE students what they needed to observe. Head pointed out that “the videos had to be authentic and relate to the content of the course.”
The idea of recording the classes was never used at the school before the pandemic. Head said that if a solution was not found for students to get their hours during the pandemic, then “it would put off students from completing their degree.”
“It was so exciting to watch the videos and see how the preschoolers greeted our students: Good morning, student-teachers,” said Spanu. “The diligent teamwork and collaboration made this novel approach to Student Teaching practicum a successful experience.”
West and Brausch said that the aspect of the closed captioning could be quite entertaining. Because the captions are based on what the technology program uses, many times the captions would not be correct.
Students interested in the ECE program may contact Head at firstname.lastname@example.org.