Student Teaching in the Time of Coronavirus: Gina Baldoni and Anne Hennessey

Posted on 5/4/2020 1:24:07 PM

For IUP students Gina Baldoni and Anne Hennessey, the last semester of college should have been spent in the third grade.

Scheduled to be student teachers, they were supposed to spend their final semester inside an elementary school classroom with third-grade students, learning the ropes alongside a cooperating teacher. Instead, it’s been spent back home with their parents, sometimes in their childhood bedrooms, in front of a computer, reading Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to children hundreds of miles away.

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The two were paired to share reading the book’s 30 chapters to students in Indiana Area School District. Their work is on display in the third-grade Beyond the Classroom webpage created by district administrators. The videos are coupled with quizzes for the students to take as part of the English Language Arts curriculum.

Gina and Anne didn’t know each other before this experience. But that didn’t stop the two from working as a team and leaning on each other through the experience. It turned out to be an involvement neither were expecting. 

“We value our partnerships with IUP and are extremely pleased with this year’s group of student teachers. They are extremely well-prepared, positive, and community minded.”

Robert Heinrich Jr. Director of Education, Indiana Area School District

Gina getting ready to read to third-graders while sitting in Miss B’s Book Nook at her home in Newville, Pennsylvania.
Gina getting ready to read to third-graders while sitting in Miss B’s Book Nook at her home in Newville, Pennsylvania.

Gina Baldoni, Newville, Pennsylvania

What I learned as a quarantined student teacher: I’m using technology to my advantage. Be prepared for anything—even the things that are impossible to prepare for. Nothing will replace the in-person contact and relationship building that occurs in a classroom. 

Ten years from now: I’ll know that I can pivot, and in a short amount of time, with some heart and hard work, I can be prepared to work through a crisis. How does online learning happen successfully? With a team of generous, creative, incredibly hard-working teachers behind the effort. Watching the third-grade teachers at East Pike and Ben Franklin work tirelessly to prepare content for students and be there for them during this time has been inspiring and amazing.

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“I was impressed with Miss Baldoni’s determination and creativity through a very difficult situation. She remained positive and did a great job of making the most out of the situation. Although she did not get to be in a classroom setting, she was eager to be a part of our Distance Learning team. She also prepared lessons for English/Language Arts. She created fantastic Google slide shows that helped the students understand their concepts at home. Then, she took it a step further and videotaped herself teaching through the slide show. I wish I could have seen Miss Baldoni teach in the classroom.”

Edward Kocinski Third-grade teacher, Ben Franklin Elementary

Anne preparing content for third-graders while at her desk in her bedroom in Downingtown, Pennsylvania.
Anne preparing content for third-graders while at her desk in her bedroom in Downingtown, Pennsylvania.

Anne Hennessey, Downingtown, Pennsylvania

What I learned as a quarantined student teacher: How important an asset flexibility is. Education and the way we deliver it is always changing. To be thankful for experiences you didn’t expect, want, or plan for.

Ten years from now: I’ll look back and realize how this one-of-a-kind experience impacted my growth as a teacher. I didn’t expect to spend part of my student teaching semester in the distance learning environment, but it happened, and I have learned so much. I think I’ll look back and realize how flexibility in teaching is so important and know that I got to stretch my muscles early in my training to be a teacher.

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“Normally I would be leading and teaching her, but we’re now learning together. Anne jumped into our Google Classroom meets, took over our traditional Charlie and the Chocolate Factory unit and continues to create online lessons in other subjects. Besides meeting the requirements for student teaching expectations, Anne really stepped up to navigate this new territory. It has made a difference to our students.”

Diana Bennett Third-grade teacher, East Pike Elementary