Teacher Education

Session Recap: Embracing AI for Teacher Preparation

Session Recap: Embracing AI for Teacher Preparation

In the dynamic world of teacher education, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has begun to play an increasingly significant role. The question isn’t whether AI will be involved in teacher preparation, but rather how we can harness it to build better educational experiences for both teachers and students. 

To shed light on this, let’s consider the insights of four experts in the field—Julie Stanley, Assistant Professor at East Carolina University; Christine Picot, Assistant Professor at University of South Florida; Jessica Lyons, English Teacher at Southport High School, and Kimberly Smith-Burton, Professor of Mathematics Education, Fayetteville State University—on how AI can be thoughtfully integrated into teacher training programs. This is a recap from a ReAction Virtual session. 

AI: The New Teaching Assistant

The traditional classroom is being reimagined with AI’s potential to augment teaching and learning. Stanley speaks to this transformation, viewing AI not as a replacement for the human touch in teaching but as a complementary tool.

“It’s all about using technology to boost teachers’ superpowers, and making learning awesome for students,” Stanley said. This perspective reframes AI as an asset that can handle ancillary tasks, allowing teachers to focus on delivering personalized instruction and connecting with students on a deeper level.

Aiding Ethical & Effective Teaching Practices

As with most new technologies, there can be concerns about the ethical use of AI in education. The key lies in how educators harness the tool to enhance their craft without compromising academic integrity.

Picot compares the integration of AI to the adoption of calculators, emphasizing the need for proper inputs to achieve beneficial outputs. “The more we can add to our understanding and our knowledge of AI and how to use it appropriately, ethically, still preserving the integrity of assignments and projects,” she said. 

Personalizing Learning With AI

AI can be harnessed to personalize education within teacher training itself. AI could assess teaching candidates’ strengths and weaknesses, offering them customized courses or materials. For instance, those struggling with lesson planning might receive targeted exercises generated by AI, while others showing aptitude in classroom engagement could be pushed with advanced communication challenges.

Refining Research & Writing With AI

In higher education, particularly in the context of research, AI becomes an invaluable resource. Kimberly Smith-Burton uses AI to assist her students with their writing and research methodology. Pre-service teachers can use AI-driven tools to help in literature reviews, research design, and data analysis, offering them a deeper understanding of educational research methodologies that will inform their future practice.

Critical Considerations for AI use in Education

The conversation around AI is not without its cautions. The experts point out the necessity of being mindful of AI’s limitations, such as the potential for embedded biases and the importance of data privacy. Educators must learn to critically assess the content generated by AI, ensuring it aligns with educational goals and ethical standards. 

Getting Started With AI in the Classroom

For educators looking to begin their AI journey, Lyons offered this advice: “Don’t be scared. Experiment and play with it.” Her experience with ChatGPT, an AI she’s fondly nicknamed Bumblebee, reveals that familiarity with AI comes from hands-on experience. It’s through exploration and experimentation that educators can truly understand how to integrate AI into their teaching practices.