Kimberly Evert, the secondary Ready2Teach program coordinator at MTSU’s College of Education, has gotten creative to provide her students with meaningful teacher training during COVID-19.
“What we learned about COVID is it’s all about giving the students choice,” she said.
When the opportunity for field placements in classrooms decreased because of the pandemic, she and others at the college came up with alternatives: They gave students the option to go the traditional placement route, to do a placement with a teacher they already had a relationship with or to utilize a comprehensive database of high-quality teaching exemplars.
For next semester, Evert and other faculty members plan to continue the redesign of the placement program to make it even better.
They also continue to adjust their instruction to their own students about best teaching practices in light of COVID restrictions.
“We’re trying to support them (students) through all of this,” she said. When circumstances in the classroom change due to COVID protocols, Evert leads her students by asking, “What did you originally have planned? What do you know the new reality is? Let’s adapt accordingly.”
After a year as a professor in the College of Education, Evert stepped into the program coordinator role this fall. In addition to facilitating field placements in classrooms for her pre-residency and Residency I students, which are student teaching preparation courses, she teaches two education courses.
Originally from Madison, Wisconsin, Evert earned her bachelor’s degree from Knox College in Western Illinois, and then taught multiple levels of Spanish for five years in Cambridge, Illinois.
While teaching, she earned her master’s in educational psychology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She left the K-12 classroom to pursue her doctorate degree in educational policy at Michigan State University and graduated in 2018.
Before joining the MTSU faculty in 2019, she did a year of post-doctorate work at the University of Virginia on a project about novice teachers.
“We followed them from their residency or student teaching year through their first three years of teaching,” she said, “to look at what kind of opportunities to learn led to what we call ‘ambitious’ or ‘high-leverage practices’ in their first few years of teaching.”
Her current role at MTSU also involves the recruitment of aspiring secondary education teachers. Since secondary education students major in a content area to teach in the future, Evert and other education faculty collaborate heavily with other departments on campus. She is paired with the arts and theatre content areas.
After participating in a Zoom session with theatre education students, she felt inspired to form a stronger sense of community within the College of Education itself. Since secondary education students spend their first years of study immersed in content-area courses outside the world of education, they tended to have no strong connection to it.
“Building a sense of community and recruitment go hand-in-hand,” she said. A new goal for her became “How do we make them (secondary education students) feel like the College of Education is also a home for them?”
In the future, the faculty plans to eliminate barriers that prevent secondary education students from entering the college as freshmen. She would also like to make the process of applying to the college more accessible and less intimidating, she said.
In the wake of all the change of this year, Evert’s motto for this semester is “something’s going to happen, we’re going to get an email, and we’re just going to go with the flow.”
— Stephanie Barrette (Stephanie.Barrette@mtsu.edu)