During COVID-19, digital learning took on an unprecedented central focus in K-12 education. This study applied photovoice qualitative methodology to record and understand the lives and reality for teacher interns as they adapted to abrupt changes in the way they designed and delivered instruction while living homebound during a pandemic. Teacher interns shared their stories of transitioning to virtual or distance learning. Participants (n = 97) were a demographically and culturally diverse group of K-12 public school teacher interns from California. The findings from this study illuminate the need for U.S. public K-12 schools to develop specific professional development training to support teachers when unforeseen events may cause the physical closure of their schools. The implications of this study highlight a shift in the mindset of how to develop practices and policies to support teacher licensure candidates during times of crisis, which may affect their ability to teach and engage students in a distance learning environment. Their experiences showed that out of chaos came the development of critical thinking and unexpected skills that moved education forward for everyone involved.


COVID-19, teacher interns, distance learning, photovoice, emergency remote teaching

Author Bio(s)

Cheryl L. Burleigh, Ed.D., is a contributing faculty member of the Richard W. Riley College of Education and Leadership at Walden University. She has extensive experience within K-12 and higher education, educational coaching, and consulting as a fully credentialed educator in the fields of educational leadership and science education. Her education career included running programs for NASA, teaching the sciences, and working in administration in public, private, and charter schools in the United States. Dr. Burleigh also was a teacher and assistant headmaster at international schools both in Luanda, Angola, and Lagos, Nigeria. Her interests in scholarly research are focused on the field of education, science education, emerging educators, educational leadership, policies and governance in education, and technology applications in education. Please direct correspondence to drcburleigh@gmail.com.

Andrea M. Wilson, Ph.D., is a current core faculty member in the research department of the Richard W. Riley College of Education and Leadership at Walden University. She has served for 14 years as a faculty member and field placement supervisor for multiple universities teaching and advising students in the fields of educational leadership and administration, special education, research methods and statistics, and psychology. She has extensive experience in the K-12 public education sector as a teacher, behavior interventionist, and district leader for special education. Dr. Wilson is a fully certified educator in the fields of educational leadership and special education. Her current research interests include retention and success of students and faculty in online higher education, collaborative teaming approaches to research and scholarly activity, best practices in school discipline, and the role of technology in education.

Jim Lane, Ed.D., served 38 years as a public-school educator. His roles included high school English teacher, district language arts supervisor, assistant principal, and principal. He now works with doctoral students as an instructor in the ACCESS program at the University of Phoenix College of Doctoral Studies. His interests include ethical frameworks, educational leadership, school organization, autoethnography, and narrative inquiry.

Publication Date


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.




Cheryl L. Burleigh 0000-0003-2393-5477; Andrea M. Wilson 0000-0002-1471-654X; Jim F. Lane 0000-0003-1428-4289



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