A Teacher’s Current Perspective

The current situation is a true challenge for everyone. Superlative adjectives are losing their meaning with overuse but here’s a time where they are warranted.

This is an / a:

enormous challenge
great challenge
far-reaching challenge
like never before

As a teacher I feel a different level of responsibility these days.
I’m ok with this – I can’t imagine being in any other profession!

But I’m not just standing in front of a 30 student class where I can give information and field questions in real time. It’s not my ‘2nd period class’ anymore. It’s 30 students and families I need to access individually on several different platforms. Yes I can push out an announcement on Google Classroom but responses and feedback take much more time. And it’s not the same. I can’t deliver my oddball quirkiness in text. My overdone jokes and teacher-isms don’t work. It’s much more fun to laugh at myself when you’re laughing with me.

I want to check in with all of my students but I can’t see them to get a sense of how they are or what they need. If a student doesn’t reply or hasn’t ‘appeared online’ I need to – no, want to – make sure they are there and and are ok.

I can’t just pass them in the hallway and say with a smile, “You seem down. I’m here if you need anything.” or “Why don’t you come in during lunch so I can help you with your scales?”

Are they coping reasonably well? How can I support them both developmentally and educationally?

Are they engaged? *Can* they engage right now? What does engagement even mean right now?

At a recent meeting (done remotely, of course) we were given accessibility to realtime video tools. Fantastic! Security protocols were addressed to protect students. Software would be disable outside of school hours to prevent abuse and harmful situations. This is a good thing. But right away teachers were asking to be able to use these all day. “What about if they need us later in the day?”
“Can we connect with them outside of the e-learning day?”
“What if they have questions and the sessions run over?”

Right away educators are asking to do *more* for them. To work more. To help more. They have many teachers holding video sessions and we all want to be able to provide the best for them. I found the conversation emotionally moving and reshaping my thoughts on being an educator and curious about how others currently perceive educators.

Yes we have – and completely accept – a responsibility to continue their education. But, just as in physical classroom there are priorities.

1. Safety and well-being first. Learning can’t happen without that. Our schools create that. Now that ability is severely limited – if we can do it at all. I think most of our students are safe. From the families we have heard from, they are.

2. Classroom management. Education won’t happen without procedures , protocols, and routine. We don’t know their routine. Are their parents jobs deemed essential and therefore they have to care for siblings? Do they have a routine? Can they even manage creating one?

3. Now we get to learning and teaching. We have to implement – and quickly – new systems not only capable of delivering the information but verifying it was received and evaluating its comprehension.

I teach at an elementary and middle school. Each uses different technology tools. Want to message parents? One school prefers email. Another uses primarily ClassDojo but supplements with email. Some classes use Google Classroom while others favor Padlet or Flipgrid. Or any combination of these tools. So my computer has multiple desktops, each with a multi-tabbed browser to keep up. Don’t forget to press ‘refresh’.

Refresh: ⌘-r
Go to bookmarks and create bookmark / folder for all your tabs

This morning I thought students may be thinking that their only role is that of student and digital learner. Or video viewer. Or ‘send button’ presser.

But they are so much more. They’re involvement makes my day! They’re engagement increases the emotional well-being of their educators and fellow students.

Their willingness to try all the different methods we are experimenting with is providing *us teachers* with valuable feedback that is making us better educators. This will positively affect future students for years to come.

So to my students:

Your time creating usernames and passwords, entering class codes, navigating new websites and software, filling out my surveys, and even just trying will make thousands of future students better students.

Yes, your efforts ARE about your learning and development. But they are molding us into exponentially better teachers. Your endeavors are helping us personally and emotionally cope with this crisis.

There are many quotes about teachers ‘touching the future’ and shaping generations. But now you are doing that so much more than you know.

Keep trying and don’t give up!

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