Student Teacher’s Guide to Online Education

Written by TeachingDegree.org Staff Writers


Student teaching is typically part of an education degree program. It usually involves lesson planning, classroom teaching, assessment, and reflection. Certified teachers supervise student teachers by reviewing teaching materials, observing teaching practices, conferencing with the student teacher, and consulting with other faculty or administrators as needed.

Online learning boasts many potential advantages, including potentially lower tuition prices, flexible attendance formats, and savings on travel time and expenses. Student teaching technology offers several convenient teaching features, including easy sharing of media and quick transitions between learning group sizes.

However, student teaching online also poses various challenges, including accessibility concerns, technological difficulties, and online classroom management issues. This page offers tips that can help student teachers overcome such difficulties. Online teaching tips can give student teachers the confidence they need to become versatile, skillful educators at the cutting edge of a changing world.

Online Courses During COVID-19

The spread of COVID-19 has caused K-12 and higher education classes to rapidly shift to online environments. Some teachers conduct virtual, synchronous classes at set times, while others offer asynchronous courses that allow students to access lectures and material at any time. Students and teachers across the country are grappling with new technologies and online participation formats.

The sudden circumstances precipitating the transition to online teaching have compounded the usual distance learning challenges. Distractions often make it harder for some learners to focus during online classes, and the difficulties of prioritizing, focusing, and managing time grow more acute in the climate of uncertainty and fear surrounding COVID-19.

Some teachers also resist online adaptation, and may be replaced by teachers more willing or capable of adjusting quickly to online learning's tech-savvy demands. Meanwhile, online student teachers lose the chance to practice teaching in physical school environments.

Technological issues, such as computer problems, weak internet connections, or low bandwidth, may also complicate student teaching online. Students and teachers who did not anticipate needing advanced equipment or internet access may find themselves unprepared for this sudden shift.

Socioeconomic inequalities also exacerbate online learning issues. Students in unsafe, unstable, or underserved homes or communities may lose the respite and support that school hours provided. This "digital divide" has already led to major attendance gaps among poorer students.

Taking Education Courses Online

The sudden switch to online teaching has created a steep learning curve for both students and teachers. Some socially anxious students may learn better in the safety of their home environment, but many students have trouble feeling engaged and focused in an online classroom. Completing assignments in less structured environments may also prove challenging.

For expert strategies, skills, and tech for student teaching online, student teachers stand to benefit from training by technology and distance learning experts. Training may be offered by the student teacher's current school or student teaching site. A wealth of distance learning resources and training opportunities also exist.

Student teachers can learn how to convert course materials and discussions into user-friendly, engaging formats, such as webpages, wikis, and blogs. Familiarity with online teaching technologies, such as Blackboard, Canvas, or Coursera, can make student teachers more versatile and marketable. Other tools include ClassDojo, cK-12, Projeqt, and EduClipper. See below for additional online study tips.

Tips for Student Teaching Online

Communicate with Your Advisor

The suddenness of the switch to virtual learning may disrupt student teaching and degree plans, so education students should carefully consult with academic advisors during this transition. Students in an ongoing student teaching assignment should consult and collaborate with their immediate teaching supervisor regarding online coursework. Advisors and supervisors should be contacted to stay abreast of rapidly shifting institutional policies, decisions, and instructions. These professionals can help point student teachers to various institutional resources for student teaching online.

Look for Opportunities at a School in Your Area

For students actively seeking online student teacher experiences, local schools may prove as valuable resources. Since not all established teachers feel comfortable teaching online, schools may be looking for new teachers, substitutes, or assistants who can adapt quickly to the practices and technologies needed for online teaching and learning. These capacities may lead to further employment opportunities, particularly once students obtain their degree and teaching certification.

Ask Lots of Questions

Actively engaging students can prove difficult in online contexts, so it becomes important to pose questions to the class. Tracking student responses can also be challenging, so online teachers sometimes enlist a student to monitor the group chat or raised hands. As they grapple with various technological and online student teaching questions, student teachers can save time and frustration by asking supervisors, advisors, and IT support for assistance.

Manage Your Time

Student teachers benefit from time management skills as they adapt their activities and assignments to the needs of distance learners. Managing live online classes usually requires extra time due to potential technological difficulties or constraints of the online format. Teachers may need to adjust settings, such as muting, throughout the call. Student teachers should keep these potential issues in mind when making decisions about lesson scope and activities.

Reach Out to Your Peers

Connecting with other education majors during this crucial time can prove invaluable. During times of rapid change, student teachers can stay informed by consulting with peers and checking school email and websites. Peers may provide valuable updates, connections, and support during this confusing moment in education. Education students can make their transition to online teaching and learning easier by asking for help rather than struggling alone.

Consider Finding a Mentor

Student teachers should actively seek feedback, guidance, and regular communication with any direct supervisors. Online observations and consultations with supervisors may differ in quality from in-person meetings, so student teachers may need to make an extra effort to connect. Student teachers should also consider finding mentors with experience in online teaching.

Additional Resources