Faculty of Education student Kelsey Shoults talks about how COVID-19 impacted her field experience, and delves into maintaining close relationships despite the physical distancing. Like many of us, she has found technological ways to maintain the social bonds that are so essential to our well-being. Kelsey is working towards combined degrees in Kinesiology (BSc) and Education (BEd) and has just completed her Professional Semester II (PSII). After she graduates, she hopes to become an elementary school teacher.
Although your practicum experience was cut short due to COVID-19, what did you learn? I was in practicum for roughly two weeks in Calgary. I was placed at Henry Wise Wood High School and was supposed to teach Sports Medicine to grades 10, 11 and 12. I think for me the biggest thing I was learning was how to adapt to the older age groups and develop confidence while teaching Division 4 students—a challenge especially because we are so close in age. Most of my previous experience (practicum and work experience) with kids was primarily with the younger age groups so I was really looking forward to having my PSII in a high school setting even though I was super hesitant about it at first.
Do you remember how you felt when the practicum experience was discontinued due to the pandemic? When the news of COVID-19 came out I honestly wasn’t too concerned about it at first because I was trying to keep a positive mindset about and not over think it especially when there was already enough stress surrounding the practicum experience. Once things started to become more real it definitely started to sink in more and there were a lot of questions and what-ifs going through my mind.
The eventual outcome of practicum being discontinued came as a shock just because I never imagined that something like this would happen. Days before it was completely cancelled there was a lot of uncertainty which ended up causing considerable stress and anxiety because no one really had answers on what the future of our practicum experiences would entail or how it would affect us going forward. The Faculty of Education handled the experience as best they could and openly communicated with us as soon as they had information. This experience has definitely shown the importance of being flexible and adapting to the circumstances that you are in which is so important when it comes to teaching.
It was extremely disappointing to have practicum cancelled—but even being in the classroom for two weeks was such a great experience and it really showed me the importance of being in the moment and taking in every second that we had in the classroom to learn and observe.
During the midst of the pandemic can you describe the activity that contributes to your personal sense of wellness? I have been really placing a priority on staying connected to family, friends and classmates during this time. I’ve been scheduling times to have conversations over the phone and on FaceTime, as well as staying connected via social media and texting on a regular basis to check in on the health and well-being of everyone. I have been using apps and other online games (Houseparty, Jackbox, Scrabble GO, etc.) to play with my friends and family.
What benefit do you receive from staying connected? I am able to provide myself with a sense of normalcy and being able to find comfort in the fact that those I care about are staying safe and healthy.
Staying connected online allows me to basically do the same thing I would do if we were together. It allows us to be face to face—but not in the physical sense—and also gives me some fun things to do to take my mind off of the uncertainty of these difficult times.
I think it's very easy to get sucked into over-thinking the situation. I believe it’s really important to find activities that allow you to escape from the monotony.
What do you see ahead for you? Currently I am registered in three courses for this first summer session which I am super excited about. I am enrolled in both of the Early Childhood Education courses with Robin Bright and Rhona Harkness, and Assessment of Individualized Educational Programming with Nicole Baker. I am excited to be able to learn from all three of these individuals and to continue finding ways to develop effective strategies for working with students and maintaining my personal wellness during COVID-19.
Related story links to the Faculty of Education Wellness Initiative series:
• The Faculty of Education WELLNESS INITIATIVE: Supporting a Focus on Health and Well-Being
• Wellness is Stillness: Jane O'Dea (dean emerita)
• Wellness is Coping with Stress Through Art and Music: Jenn Pellerin
• Wellness is Being in the Moment: Kenneth Oppel
• Wellness is About Having a Consistent Routine: Alex Funk (BEd '17)
• Wellness is Spiritual: David Slomp
• Wellness is Ranching: Danny Balderson
• Coping with COVID-19: Harnessing our Natural Stress Response
• Coping with COVID-19: Loneliness
Writers: Kirsten Livingstone and Darcy Tamayose | Photo courtesy of Kelsey Shoults
Click to read more of the Faculty of Education Legacy magazine (2008-2019)
Twitter: @ULethbridgeEdu Website: uleth.ca/education
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