Remember how summer is when we catch our breath? It’s when we slow down to reflect, plan for fall, and, if accreditation is among our responsibilities, dig into data. Or it used to be; things are rather different this year. This summer, in the midst of ever-changing conditions, all of us in higher education are consolidating lessons from the disrupted semester past and looking ahead into a cloud of questions. It feels like we’ve reached peak uncertainty, and the view from that summit is anything but clear.
In three open forums hosted by AAQEP toward the end of the spring semester, colleagues from across the country shared lessons learned and proposed strategies for tackling the challenge of planning for fall. The sudden changes of the spring called out all the flexibility, resilience, and resourcefulness that faculty, candidates, school partners, and state authorities could muster. Candidates rose to the occasion and supported teachers, faculty collaborated to support candidates and schools, and teachers pushed themselves to the limits. Everyone was scrambling together.
As we approach the fall, educator preparation is at the nexus of continued uncertainty across the entire educational enterprise—P to 20. A variety of plans are in place, and many of those already have been revised as conditions change. Campuses might open, but might not; students may be residential, but may stay home; classes will likely be hybrid or “HyFlex,” unless the in-person part is cancelled. P-12 partners are experiencing as much or more uncertainty regarding opening, delivery modes, schedules, and capacity to host partners in preparation. And program colleagues, from supervisors to faculty to candidates, are all evaluating their risk profiles and weighing their options.
While AAQEP is not in a position to bring much order to this cacophony, we are always glad to tap our collaborative community culture to support the sharing of ideas and resources. The spring forums were a welcome start to this particular conversation, and I’m sure other opportunities will follow as the pandemic and its effects mature.
For the immediate future, know that we are committed to not adding to the pandemic-related stress ourselves. Our continued priority is on everyone’s health and safety—in fact, we do have a plan for site visits to remain virtual through at least the end of 2020—and as always, we will work with you on any needed adjustments to your accreditation plans.
Even at this peak of uncertainty, I’m inspired to see the field’s steadfast optimism, creativity, and determination to arrive at plans that work in the local context. This resolve is what will sustain programs, partnerships, and candidates, as well as support the new educators who are entering an extraordinary work environment. And when the pandemic clouds finally clear, we’ll emerge as an even stronger profession.