This being teacher appreciation week, I wanted to not only wish all teachers a very HAPPY teacher appreciation week, but I also wanted to send you a message of hope and inspiration, as we are in the middle of our unprecedented time in quarantine, and for many like myself, heading into the last few weeks of the school year
Like so many of you, I have had to adjust to this new type of at home learning. While many people call it home learning, or at home learning, or even online learning, I feel that these phrases and descriptions do not totally embrace what this really is: pandemic learning. The entire educational system has been disrupted like never before, and to describe it as anything less than that is truly doing us all a disservice. For some reason in education there is this tendency to minimize the bad and overemphasize the good. During these times, it does us a disservice, as so many of our teachers and students face dire life threatening circumstances. If its okay with you, let's agree to call this what it really is; pandemic learning. Is that okay?
Now that we agree to describe this for what it really is; now what? We transitioned all of our curriculum to our online platforms, we have figured out more or less our zoom capabilities, we have tried and tried again to get our "teaching" practices online and have made assignments tailored to fit our new online mediums. But now what?
How do we continue on when kids don't show up? How do we press on when not all of our students are responding to our various cries and pleas for assistance? How do we deal with unexplained death, sudden job loss, and students lack of participation or increased depression?
And on the flip side; how do we deal with students who are thriving in this environment? Those students who no longer feel the societal pressures of conformity and are free to be themselves within the walls of their own personal spaces? Students who's anxiety and mental health issues are now expressed less, and who can now truly enjoy their education and learning, and who are possibly doing even better in this new framework?
The answer to each of these scenarios, or truly any of the situations that could be conceived underneath this new bell curve, is you. You are the answer to each of these situations, because YOU are the glue that is holding this all together. Let me explain.
As the teacher in the classroom, you are the direct contact between the curriculum and your students. Every assessment, every assignment is done THROUGH you. You are the ambassador of the curriculum and of the lesson as well as representing each of your students and making sure that the lesson connects with the students, and vice versa. You are on the front lines with respect to learning; the person on the ground that not only watches it happen, but makes it happen as well. And please do not downplay those teachable moments that were outside of the prescribed curriculum or lesson plan; those are probably the MOST important lessons of all. Those moments when you went off topic to correct a behavior or went off on a tangent from a student asking a questions; those are moments that turn into experiences. And those experiences are what makes learning and teaching so valuable, because those experiences are a direct result of you
And this is where you matter most
When your students used to walk into class, their enthusiasm and their desire to learn was directly connected to their relationship with you; because as the ambassador for the lesson plan and for them, your presence is what flavored each moment, and turned it into an experience. And it was the experience of YOU that made each class what it was. And this doesn't relate or correlate to "good days" and "bad days". Its difficult to quantify "good" and "bad". Because i'm sure on your worst days,