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Associate dean discusses changes to teacher training programs with the AJC

With the coronavirus shutting down classrooms around the world, colleges are modifying their training programs to prepare future educators for the new normal of teaching.

Stacey Neuharth-Pritchett, associate dean for academic programs and professor in the department of educational psychology, shared some of the changes the UGA Mary Frances Early College of Education has implemented to limit physical placements for teacher candidates with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Some of these changes include more online work and alternative placements. Although technology growth in teacher training has increased, completion of teacher preparation programs has decreased in several states, including Georgia.

At UGA, initial teacher preparation at the undergraduate level has declined in line with national trends, said Neuharth-Pritchett. She attributes the decline to public perception of teachers, the rigors of becoming a teacher, additional costs incurred like testing fees and challenges teachers face outside of learning, like the social and psychological needs of students. She sometimes hears from students at UGA whose family members were teachers and have warned them not to go into the field.

"I think it's become such a challenging—yet again it can be incredibly rewarding—occupation that there are some of those things that are challenging to demystify for people," she said.

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