When classes were cancelled, I didn’t pay too much attention to the ever increasing posts on social media or the webinars popping up everywhere about remote learning and teaching; I’m on medical leave and don’t have a class of students at the moment. Yet, as this pandemic has continued its course and everything has become uncertain, I realized that something like what we’re experiencing now may happen at some point in September or later in the fall.
So I started paying attention.
I started listening to teachers talk about how difficult this is. I started reading articles and blog posts that attempted to help teachers make sense of the new digital reality we are living in, and I continued to read about equity and what that means during COVID-19. I began to participate in webinars, joined sessions on FaceBook live and inserted myself into the conversation.
I have been learning from other educators about the importance of focusing on social-emotional learning and trauma informed teaching; how to make effective teaching videos; and how to keep things simple and not expect a business-as-usual focus at home. I started keeping a legal pad of notes, that is quickly filling up, and that reflects what I want to keep in mind as I think about the fall, whether or not we are in remote learning mode or back at the school house door.
Yet, my most significant noticing during these last few weeks has been the heightened awareness by educators of the importance of connecting and building relationships with students AND their families. I want to emphasize the fact that we should have been connecting and building relationships with students and families when we were safely ensconced in our classrooms. If you are now realizing this, during a pandemic, I wonder what was happening in the classroom before this health crisis. And I say this, with a lot of love and grace, because if it’s challenging to develop connections with students and their families when we’re in a face-to-face environment, think how much harder it is to begin to do this NOW when we’re in crisis mode. That’s not to say that we shouldn’t try, but it is my hope that this experience serve as a reminder to all of us that relationships do matter. Authentic connections do matter.
At the same time, and from my limited perspective, building and cultivating relationships can still happen online because we don’t have another choice. But they require a lot of work on the part of the teacher. Let’s not forget this when we return to school in the fall because even if teachers forge relationships with students and families, there may be one or more students for whom that doesn’t happen. And I repeat, trying to do that now is very hard. Again, this should serve as a lesson to make sure we intentionally connect with all students and especially with the ones that we have a hard time connecting with.
So many factors to consider. Let’s remember to show grace to ourselves, our colleagues, our students and their families.
This ain’t over yet.
Cross posted to the Two Writing Teachers Tuesday SOL Challenge.