UMF Senior Works with Mentor Teacher to Create Virtual Student Teaching Experience
by April Mulherin, UMF Associate Director for Media Relations
This story was a press release by the UMF Media Relations Department.
FARMINGTON, ME (April 28, 2020)—University of Maine at Farmington graduating senior Maggie Pomerleau, from Sidney, was excited about student teaching and her spring semester at UMF. Things changed when in March, University of Maine System campuses and K-12 schools throughout the state transitioned all in-class instruction to remote learning, due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
With a major in Secondary Education, and a concentration in English, she was in the midst of fulfilling her student teaching requirement with Mt. Blue Middle School eighth-grade teacher Denise Mochamer, UMF class of 1989, and the 80 middle school students from four classrooms in the cohort.
Pomerleau felt very fortunate to have Mochamer as her mentor teacher and loved the kids.
“I was pretty stressed at the start, as I’m sure we all were,” said Pomerleau. “My time at Farmington has really prepared me for the teaching profession, and I didn’t want to miss my student teaching experience.”
Mochamer’s response to the situation was calm and supportive, according to Pomerleau. “Once we all caught our breath it was, “okay, how do we make this work for our kids?”
“We had to think outside the box,” said Pomerleau. “We are so fortunate that students in the Mt. Blue School District have laptops they can use and take home.
Mochamer transitioned classroom activities to Google Classroom, and office hours were set up with an online tool, three times a week, for students who needed extra help or just wanted to reach out. Also, Pomerleau has a weekly virtual meeting with her mentor teacher. Communication is key as Google Hangouts and email provide useful tools for staying in touch with students.
They still had to figure out how to help the students without internet at home, according to Pomerleau. She helped Mochamer create work packets the students could pick up when they picked up their daily meals provided by the district’s food service.
“I have truly enjoyed working with Maggie this spring,” said Mochamer. “It didn’t go as originally planned, but we certainly have been creative and worked through this new learning. I wouldn’t have wanted to go through it with anyone else but her.”
For the unit on argumentative writing, Pomerleau created a lesson plan and was busy grading 80 essays, while also working on her digital portfolio and teacher work sample for the end of her school year.
“It’s been hard not being at the middle school during my last semester at UMF. I see my students missing their friends, spring sports and the end of the year activities, and I am going through the same thing,” said Pomerleau.
“It’s been a challenging experience, but one that has helped prepare me for the crucial and evolving role teachers fill every day.”
In addition to her studies, Pomerleau has served as the student representative for the University of Maine System Board of Trustees, vice president for the UMF Class of 2020, a member of the UMF Student Senate and an Admissions Ambassador.