Parents have made their current feelings about schooling at home very known, and rightly so, during this time of upheaval. They are stressed, confused, and without the amount of educational guidance they have on a daily basis. The teachers, staff, curriculum, and all that surrounds their kids lives has vanished? Well, not quite. The districts, administrators teachers, and classified staff are right beside you. Our physical presence is invisible, but our online footprint, is getting stronger by the day. While, we are not there when you cry out of frustration over a math problem, or after the hundredth request for your child to log-in. But we are here and we are crying right alongside you during a crisis that will define us all and change our educational landscape as only time will tell.
Teachers were not mentally prepared for this, as we are social beings. This is not in our toolbox of tricks. Across the United States the heart-strings of teachers are being tugged in a myriad of ways, shapes, and forms, all leaning to despair. My mental state was initially one of sorrow, but due to watching the cases on the rise it was difficult to ignore or even fathom that we were going back to school. I was prepared for the worst case scenario and began to gear up for what was possibly to come, while mourning the loss, and slowly accepting the new reality.
Those first two weeks of limbo/mourning/and personal online education allowed me to get myself into the mindset of working from home, listening to the frustrations of the parents, and trying to create work that can be done without a major breakdowns for myself, my students or the parents. I cried for my kids. I cried just for me and for my co-workers. I cried for my parents. Then, I let it go so I could move on as we are stuck with this new education, and our kids need teachers who are not trapped in the mud of gloom and doom. Support is needed for all of our students but especially those in the 8th grade or the high-school seniors. They are the ones that feel all is lost. My students are 8th graders and now they will never celebrate the end of elementary school with their peers. The loss is of the memories that they will never create. This is a huge hurdle, that we as teachers and their parents will have to help them navigate and cross this road with care so they feel they are ready to move on academically and emotionally. As one of my students eloquently put it in an enrichment assignment I created. “I was robbed, rushed, and I question my ability to be ready for high-school.” I understand those sentiments, and again I cried.
This war does not only exist within our emotional state. While we are in a tech generation, many students are not savvy. While they text, You Tube, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, their online educational skills are sub-par. As for the low tech teacher it is now their time to dump all their one-time learning professional development moments into a huge pot, stir it up, and pull out what is needed and use. Now. This is frustrating for all but the learning curve is waiting for no one. Teachers, kids, and parents are asked now to be ready to take on a task that hit us like a brick and we are stepping up to that plate as fast as we can so we can bring students the education they need. We are teachers it is what we do. After this crisis is over we all will be able to take what we are doing now to enrich our every day face to face instruction and parents will be able to oversee their students work with a better understanding.
For now the curve is steep and never-ending for all parties, administrators, teachers, parents, grandparents, care-givers. Each side of this mountain looks different and shares that same front line mentality. Teachers are just on the other-side of the monitor and while I cannot feel your stress, I understand. Simply speaking, I am a message away. Contact me and I will contact you…probably too much. We will get through this together and I truly believe that we will come out stronger with a better vision for what education should become in the years to come.
For now, however, we pray and I go back to my weeks work, argument writing.