Lessons Learned

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.

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Cross posted to the Two Writing Teachers Tuesday SOL Challenge.

10 thoughts on “Lessons Learned

  1. MegMcCormick says:

    What an astute point! I am fortunate enough to work in a school that already impresses upon us the importance of building relationships with families, which made my follow up quarantine phone calls so much easier, with the families I already knew. But there are so many more families that I should have connected with and will now continue to try to connect with. I now understand the importance of the school to home connection with a focused lens. Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Meg,
      The school to home connection is critical. Now, that we don’t have face to face opportunities to develop these relationships, we need to work a little bit harder to make them happen. I’m glad that you had established that with many of your students’ families before quarantine.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I am glad I spent time building relationships in the classroom — that has become my focus more and more over the years, sometimes over even “content” and especially over testing. I worry sometimes about what that might look like if we have to START school this way, but it’s a challenge we may need to tackle and I will do my best at that too.

    Like

    • I worry about that, too. But because we teachers are resilient and creative, we will figure out the best ways to connect with kids no matter what the learning environment looks like. Relationships before content.

      Like

  3. This is wonderful insight and forward thinking that I want to remember. I want to uncover specific actions we can do to strengthen our relationships with our students and their families in the beginning of a new school year. It is so very important.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Rita K. says:

    Elisa, I love your important and well-crafted admonition. Relationships are vital in any educational setting, including a virtual one. Great reminder.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. > 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.<

    This is where I'm at right now. Watching, reading, writing, learning how to do my job better than I am right now. Distance learning is not easy, and just being thrown in has been a nightmare.

    My worry, as we head back, the goodwill that many companies had by offering free subscription until May/June will all disappear and our district will be "now what" as we are all ready cash strapped. That's one worry among many, but we'll see how it goes because I agree, it ain't over.

    Thank you for sharing today! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Darin, Thanks for commenting. The issue of the free subscriptions has been echoed by a few teachers on social media. We’re going to have to adjust to how that shapes up and many other things. I just hope that as teachers we’re able to focus on the bits of remote learning that are working and figure out how to use that in our classrooms in the fall. At the same time, lets remember that we can do the same in the other direction. Good luck finishing out the year!

      Liked by 1 person

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