Here’s where student teachers get a virtual classroom preview

Mentors give students feedback on digital lessons
By: | January 3, 2020
Student teachers at Grove City College in Pennsylvania participate in virtual co-op programs in which they are paired with and mentored online by a professional classroom teacher.Student teachers at Grove City College in Pennsylvania participate in virtual co-op programs in which they are paired with and mentored online by a professional classroom teacher.

Here’s a PLN gives teacher a virtual look at what teaching is really like.

Student teachers at Grove City College in Pennsylvania participate in virtual co-op programs in which they are paired with and mentored online by a professional classroom teacher somewhere in the world.

These student teachers, as early as freshman year, will create an online lesson and then get feedback from the mentors in weekly meetings via video-conferencing platforms such as Facetime or Skype.


Read our full PLC feature: How PLCs power progress in schools


This relationship allows students to begin developing a professional learning network before they even start looking for a job, says Samantha Fecich, an assistant professor of education and instructional technologist who created the program.

Students about to graduate can then leverage the PLNs they’ve developed through the Grove City program to inquire about opportunities in specific districts.

“As freshmen or sophomores, they’re able to spread their little breadcrumbs of of awesomeness across the internet,” Fecich says. “And, it helps them get a sneak peak into what it’s like to be a practicing teacher.”

The virtual co-op relationships often changes some of the students’ perspectives about education, says Melissa-Ann Pero, an English teacher at Pennsylvania’s Bermudian Springs High School who has participated in the program as a mentor.

“When you want to become a teacher, you already assume what it’s going to be like because you’ve had teachers,” says Pero, whose school is part of the Bermudian Springs School District. “Here, you get to ask people in the field questions you might be less inclined to ask face-to-face.” For example, Pero says she often talks to student teachers about how she created a gay-straight alliance to provide a safe space for kids at her school.

“When I first started teaching, I was told not to bring my personal life into the classroom,” Pero says. “But when students get to know a little bit about you, you’re real to them, you’re not a figurehead. That’s something I want new teacher to get a feel for—it’s important that your students know you.”