Mount Saint Mary education students often spend their Saturday mornings tutoring children at the Newburgh Armory Unity Center, pictured; the sessions count as fieldwork for students. Courtesy of News Break.

By: Jen Hasbun

Mount Saint Mary’s education students have found new ways to fulfill fieldwork specifications required by The New York State Department of Education in spite of restrictive social distancing measures.

All New York schools have transitioned to online learning, preventing college students from completing their fieldwork hours in a classroom. But according to Dr. Victoria Caruana, associate professor of education, the Mount’s Division of Education has been able to incorporate simulations and case-based lessons, which count towards field hours, into the curriculum.

“It’s definitely been a lot harder,” said Madison Lee, a senior, “it’s very unfortunate that we cannot do our fieldwork and have to rely on case studies to receive our fieldwork hours.”

Additionally, some of the Mount’s education classes have partnered with local schools in utilizing Google Classroom to interact with students, and the division has employed virtual tutoring as a way to work on instruction, which Caruana described as a “rewarding and eye-opening” experience. Seniors in the process of completing their student teaching have been able to continue to do so with the cooperation of teachers in their respective schools.

“As much as we have missed our face-to-face interaction, we are finding new ways every day to meet the needs of both our teacher candidates and the students in the K-12 schools,” Caruana said.

The Department of Education has also waived teacher certification exams, which students need to take in order to apply for their initial teaching certification. Since obtaining a certification is not a graduation requirement, senior education students will be eligible to graduate on time; they are not, however, eligible for the pass/fail option being offered by the college because the Department of Education has not indicated that it would accept a pass/fail grading regimen.

“It has been a learning experience for all of us,” Caruana said, “but at this point we believe that our candidates are even better prepared for any eventuality than they were before.”