Ask any teacher, and they’ll say they went into the profession because they wanted a personal connection with students. For IUP student teacher Miranda Uhrig, the day Pennsylvania closed schools because of the coronavirus pandemic was the moment
she realized her passion for that student connection would have to take a back seat.
Early Childhood and Special Education
Mount Airy, Maryland
“I want to build a positive relationship and interaction with my students,” Miranda said. “For some children, it’s the best part of their day to be in school with their teachers and friends. It’s the best part of my day, too, seeing their faces and calling
on them to answer questions. Not having that during my student teaching experience has been really hard.”
Moving back home and finding herself doing assignments in her childhood bedroom was the perfect backdrop to connect with students in her first-grade class. The experience has strengthened Miranda’s desire to work with the K-2 age group.
Not all of Miranda’s experience in first grade has been online. She spent the first seven weeks of the spring semester as a learning support student teacher at Indiana Area School District’s middle school. The day she was supposed to begin her second seven weeks in Jason Stubbe’s first grade classroom was the Monday public schools across the state were closed to adhere to the new social distancing guidelines.
“Miranda’s been amazing,” Stubbe said. “This has been a unique learning experience for all of us. Instead of focusing on what wasn’t happening in the classroom, I brought her in to as many discussions and planning sessions as possible. She joins me daily for our read-aloud and reads to the students each Wednesday. I’ve started small group sessions on Google Meets and she’s joining those, too.”
Miranda doesn’t classify herself as someone who was a technology guru before the quarantine, but she has embraced the online atmosphere, and when she gets her first job, she’ll change what her first meet-the-teacher letter looks like.
“Since Mr. Stubbe’s students had never met me, I wanted to do something fun for them,” she said. “I decided to make a video to introduce myself. The upside is I’ve learned all this new technology. I would have never thought to do that. Now I’m pretty sure I’m going to do the same thing every year.”
The video took her two days to record, edit, place the text, and add some special effects. This was another avenue to reach students and a unique experience to share when she’s done with school and looking for a job as a teacher. However, first, she is
returning to IUP in the fall as a graduate assistant in the literacy master’s program.