Victorian COVID lockdowns deprive student teachers of classroom training

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Montana Garnett hopes that when she graduates as a kindergarten teacher, she has spent enough time learning in the classroom to feel confident.

The 22-year-old Victoria University student is one of many student teachers and early childhood educators who have been robbed of crucial in-person placements for the second year in a row due to Victoria’s phased closures.

Student teacher Montana Garnett missed the face-to-face experience.Credit:Chris Hopkins

“A lot of students, including myself, have now become accustomed to doing it online, but it’s not ideal as we want to do this face-to-face teaching and have social interaction,” Ms. Garnett said. .

“A classroom full of kids brings a lot of creativity and imagination, so it’s disappointing, but you understand the circumstances.”

The disruption has raised fears in the education sector of graduation delays and a lack of qualified graduate teachers, but many organizations are working to help students get through.

Universities have held online internships and last year the Victorian Institute of Teaching lowered the requirements to reflect the limits of COVID-19. A bachelor’s degree in education now requires 60 days of internship, instead of 80, and online experience counts for that. Early education and care requirements have been reduced from 80 days to 30 days.

La Trobe University’s dean of education, Joanna Barbousas, said a task force made up of universities, schools, educational organizations and the state government were working together to support teachers in training, in particular by creating a mentoring program for graduate teachers affected by the pandemic.

“We are developing new ways to help them enter the profession due to the restrictions placed on their learning, so there are good things to come,” she said.

“They need to be supported. It all really had an impact on their well-being.

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