A Teacher's View From Home on Remote Teaching
I've been pretty quiet here on my blog lately. There's been a lot going on in our world and I've tried to wrap my head around it all, which has not been easy by any means. Every bit of what we've known in each of our lives has taken a complete 360. All that we've known has been swept right from under our feet and any comforts of routine are gone. Over the past few weeks we've all seen our social media feeds overflowing with meme's, blogs, and people's opinions on what the government should or shouldn't be doing to protect our country during this COVID-19 pandemic. What teacher's should or shouldn't be doing in regards to Remote Teaching. Or even how people should or shouldn't be reacting to this crisis that our world is in. People don't hesitate to spew their opinions all over social media from behind a device, but that's not what we should be doing right now. We should not be bashing one another during a time like this...but honestly we shouldn't ever be bashing one another in my humble opinion if I'm going to give one. I've held back on blasting my thoughts and opinions all over social media because I often try to keep to myself. I don't like sharing political views or thoughts regarding educational policies much on social media because there's always someone that wants to argue with someone else about something...I can give my opinion when it matters...in the polls. People like to bash one another because it gets their adrenaline going and like politics people have strong opinions about education. However I am feeling at this point that I want to at least share a few thoughts on this topic. One because my entire life, career, and how I've educated children over he past 17 years has completely changed in the past month, and two I feel with all those years behind me as well as being a mother for 13 years and a mother of two for 10, I feel that I have some pretty valid input on the topic.
Three weeks ago on Friday March 13th we were told at an emergency staff meeting that our students wouldn't be returning Monday for school so we could prepare some materials in the case that schools would be closed. We had heard that other states were already doing this so we were trying to prepare as much as we could ahead of time whenever we were told we would be remote teaching. That lasted a short time because over the weekend we were notified that student's would not be returning to school for three weeks. We were then thrown into preparation mode, given a day and a half to prep materials for two and a half weeks of remote learning. When I said goodbye to my student's that previous Friday I thought I would see them again in a few days. I didn't think that I'd have been saying goodbye for three weeks and potentially the rest of the year. As we now see many schools around the country closing until the fall it breaks my heart. I have 5th grade student's that I may never see again because they'll be off to middle school next year. We may never get to have our end of the year graduation ceremony or congratulate them on their final year and all their accomplishments. They may never walk through the halls of their elementary school or their 5th grade classroom doors again. It tears me apart. There is closure that needs to happen and we may never have that opportunity with these students that became part of our school family.
I returned to my classroom about a week and a half after we'd begun remote teaching to pick up materials when we heard that we wouldn't be returning to school until May. I looked at my empty classroom with my student's names on folders, shelves, and drawers with a pit in my stomach and fighting back tears. This isn't how this year is supposed to end. This isn't how I'm supposed to be teaching my students. They've been ripped from the four walls of my classroom without warning. I now look at their faces through a small screen, talking to them, and reassuring them that despite how this all goes we'll be okay. I listen to them say they miss school, they miss their friends, and they miss our time working together. I provide continued encouragement that they're doing a great job. But I then hear from their little mouths "It's just not the same" they say to me. I then reply by saying "At least we have the ability to still work together like this! Isn't this pretty cool"!
As these thoughts run through my head of my daily video lessons with my students, my emails and phone calls with parents, and the conversations I have with my colleagues, it's tough to see what people post on social media bashing teachers and school districts. I tell you we are doing everything we can to meet the needs of our students, your children, during this unprecedented time. We are doing our best with what we've been given to provide appropriate curriculum for them and to meet each of their individual needs when they are not within our four walls of our classroom. I am trying to meet the diverse needs of my special education students and follow their IEP's when I can't be there with them or instruct the parents on how to provide what I would when I'm directly working with them. I promise you as parents that we without a doubt would rather be working with your child in the school than at home. We are working until late at night to make sure we are giving you and your child what they need. We are working when we should be spending time with our children and families during this pandemic because WE LOVE WHAT WE DO.
So this is what I have for you and your children as I sit here reflecting on remote teaching as well as support my own children with their learning.
-This is all unknown territory for us all and we're all learning as we go through these uncharted waters.
-Try not to stress over the little things. Your child is learning and you are doing a fabulous job.
-Reach out to your child's teacher. We are here to help you and your child in whatever way we can. We may not get back to you right away, but we will. We are trying our best to support all our students and that takes time. We can't improve things if we don't know what is or isn't working. Please share.
-If you don't get everything done, that's okay, just let us know and we'll work through it together.
-We don't want to create more stress for you, this virus is doing enough of that for us all. We are trying to continue to provide learning for your child, but not additional stress for anyone.
-Every child learns differently and we all know that. Some children that didn't thrive in the classroom are excelling at remote learning, but others are struggling. We are aware and want you to know that and we are understanding of all of it. Please just breathe.
-Yes we understand that some children learn better hands on, we understand some parents don't agree with remote learning, we see you sharing on social media that you think life skills are important, and we're trying to cover all bases. If you want to teach your child some of those things that's awesome! Please do! I wish I could. I agree that it is important, but please understand we are also trying to do our job and make sure your child is still meeting state standards for their grade level. This is also important skills for them to learn and required for us as teachers.
-We are all in this together.
Please, please, please know that we miss your children. They are a very important part of our lives and we worry about them every day we don't see them in the four walls of our classrooms. We have weekly meetings where we discuss how things are going, share your concerns with one another, and try to do better each week providing you and your child with supports to continue to learn. This situation has turned all our worlds upside down and we're each trying to survive and get back to normal. Please understand we are all just doing our best. Please know that we all hope I will soon get to stand in front your child again, see their smiling face, and teach them within the four walls of our classroom.
A teacher missing her students