This case study explores how teacher education curriculum in a college in Israel responded to the Covid-19 outbreak. The article focuses on the clinical component of the preservice curriculum (practice teaching and methods courses). It reveals that curriculum became malleable in two major ways: there was (1) a shift to learner-centered well-being and social emotional learning (SEL); and (2) an adaptation of teaching methods.
The Covid-19 shutdown imposed a restructuring of the content, sequence, and scope of the curriculum. While certain topics were omitted or reduced in scope, others—especially those related to digital instruction—were introduced or expanded. Pedagogy instructors also began to attend to their students’ well-being by introducing SEL contents and activities. This response during challenging times revealed teacher educators’ adaptability, resilience, and agency. The Covid-19 breakout transformed the curriculum from a traditional pre-planned and structured syllabus to one that is more responsive, dynamic, and malleable.
This case study opens a window onto curricular adaptations in teacher education in the core component of clinical practice at a time when the planned and structured curriculum ceased to function. Encouragingly, our pedagogic instructors (PIs) suggested that curriculum is an ongoing, dynamic process and is responsive to changing conditions. Even more noteworthy, perhaps, PIs changed their understanding of what a curriculum is and what it could and should be. These perceptions of curricular malleability and its experiential dimension emerged only a few weeks after the start of the coronavirus crisis.
As in any case study, the findings are contextual and not generalizable. However, some of these findings may be found in other teacher education programs. This study only starts a dialog about how teacher education curriculum responded to the COVID-19 breakout; others need to weigh in and perhaps broaden the investigation. For example, is enhanced attention to student teachers’ (STs’) well-being visible in various contexts? Further, we view this as an opportunity to explore all the ways teacher education curriculum needs to change to prepare the next generation of teachers for the complexities of their profession.
This study provides a practical, real-time description of changes the coronavirus pandemic caused in the clinical curriculum in teaching education. It shows the relevance of curriculum studies within educational research and brings curriculum theorizing closer to educators’ concrete praxis. For a concept that underpins the preparation of the next generation of teachers, teacher education curriculum has not received as much attention as it deserves. We hope this study will trigger more research in this area.