An exciting new initiative called TeachLivE™ has changed the way that we are assisting pre-service teachers with communication skills, teaching of instructional strategies, and classroom management. TeachLivE™ is a mixed-reality simulation experience that allows pre-service teachers an opportunity to “learn new skills and craft their practice without placing ‘real’ students at risk during the learning process (TeachLivE™, 2016). Teacher candidates are able to develop pedagogical expertise as well as classroom management techniques. In addition to working with the TeachLivE™ students, teacher candidates are also able to practice engaging in parent-teacher conferences. We can also design other experiences to support principal preparation, staff development, and family advocacy.
In the spring, information sessions were held and a small group of faculty from the Department of Teaching and Learning and from the Department of Bilingual and Literacy Studies visited the University of Central Florida, where TeachLivE™ was initially developed. We also provided demonstrations to individuals throughout the university including the School of Medicine, Student Services, and Human Resources. We are fully equipped to provide TeachLivE™ experiences at both of our campuses as well as at other locations through our mobile lab, and are exploring collaborative opportunities to enhance student learning.
This summer, students in several undergraduate teacher education classes used TeachLivE™ and the response was extremely positive. Students described the student avatars as “very realistic,” “engaging” and “challenging.” They commented that teaching is “harder than it seems” and that they now have a more realistic understanding of the challenges of effective teaching.