This week we checked in with one of our student teachers, Christopher Murphy, on how the transition to online delivery has altered his field experience.
Murphy is currently serving his elementary student teaching placement within Austin ISD. With the outbreak of COVID-19, AISD elected to move to online instruction a few weeks before Governor Abbott’s announcement to end the in-person school year last Friday. This process left many educators in both the district and state uncertain how to proceed.
Despite this, many teachers and student teachers alike rose to the challenge, including Murphy. He made it his mission to “be as helpful and involved in instruction as possible” despite having to move to online delivery. While this transition was a large undertaking, Murphy personally found the switch to be a relatively smooth one. “I have had tremendous guidance from my cooperating teacher and university faculty mentors,” Murphy shared. “The student teaching faculty has guided me a lot by providing [all the student teachers] with access to a ton of online music teaching resources…” In addition to these resources, the student teaching faculty has maintained weekly check-ins with our student teachers to help with productivity and also to check on their mental well-being.
Murphy said that Texas State definitely laid a solid foundation for their student teachers that has “translated well to remote learning.” He explained that they were always taught to “be ready to jump in and do things,” something that has been a key piece of advice. Within his placement, Murphy has relied heavily on this advice and on the support of his cooperating teacher, Ms. Katie Riordan. Riordan has helped to keep Murphy involved with his student teaching by workshopping lesson ideas and inviting him to attend weekly Zoom staff meetings and elementary music meetings for AISD. This experience has been valuable, allowing Murphy to see firsthand how a district could potentially handle a crisis situation.
However, at the end of the day, the most important thing to Murphy has not been his own experience, but the experiences of his students. He feels that “continued exposure to music is helpful for students in these crazy times, as for some, it is the bright spot in their school day.” This sentiment echoes our own School of Music Director Dr. Tom Clark’s mantra during this outbreak: “Music is essential.” Murphy and Riordan have developed creative ways to teach remotely, such as creating videos for students to follow along (which Murphy likens to “Blues Clues),” giving students parameters for their own creative musical exploration by creating their own instruments or sharing their favorite songs, and many other non-traditional lessons Murphy never thought he would utilize during his student teaching.
Dr. Vanessa de Macedo Higgins Joyce, Associate Professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication and parent to a child in Murphy’s elementary placement, has recognized his enthusiasm and dedication to his field. “Our school has many Texas State teachers,” Dr. Higgins Joyce wrote to Dean John Fleming “and this student teacher is doing so awesome online.” She said Murphy’s readings with beats has brightened her family’s day. “Mr. Murphy rocks.” We would have to agree, Dr. Higgins Joyce!
We want to congratulate Murphy and all our student teachers on a job well done! You continue to make us proud every day with your leadership and dedication to your passions. Because of you, it is always a great day to be a Bobcat.