COVID19 - One Educator’s Thoughts

CURRENT EVENTS | June 8, 2020

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How quickly life can change.

 

Mid-March 2020 will be a time that is not forgotten - everyone’s life changed from “care-free” and “normal” going to work, school, worshiping, shopping, visiting family and friends to being quarantined, wearing face masks, working remotely, engaging in social distancing; teaching, eating all meals at home, learning remotely. 

 

Like the beautiful scene in a snow globe, one minute the scene is quiet, peaceful, and calm, then someone comes along and shakes the snow globe.  The snowflakes disperse throughout the globe.  In time the flakes all fall to the bottom, but none of the flakes fall to their original place.  Soon the pandemic will be behind us and a “new normal” will be in front of us.

 

All of the changes in allowable daily activities, that we once considered “normal”, together with the quarantine as a result of the pandemic, have created an atmosphere of fear and anxiety.  The uncertainty is unnerving. 

 

Considering the positives has been helpful in decreasing anxiety and warding off depression.  In my experience, while there are many things I may not like, such as executive orders that have increased my anxiety level, I have found that focusing on positives makes it possible to reduce the anxiety, and enjoy a productive day, as well as plan for the future - the return to the “new normal”:  

 

As an educator I am grateful for:

  • Increased time to think and conquer the fear of technology and turn technology into an asset for teaching;
  • The opportunity to really look at each student individually and assess their academic and social/emotional needs; a time to put the individual back into education;
  • The time to look at what the student has learned, and consider the learning as not just the grading of a student’s work, and adjust assignments accordingly;
  • The patience I am gaining by working remotely - while in no way easy and without its difficulties, it has provided the need to really drill down in each lesson, determine the essential elements of the lesson and deal with the uncertain cooperation of the internet and computer (user error aside); 
  • The extra time provided by not being on the road 2 plus hours a day, has become a time to rethink about my teaching style and the content of my lessons, it is  2 hours a day that I have gotten back that I did not have before.

 

When schools are permitted to reopen, I am planning to:

  • Be sure to have a blueprint in place, should we again be in a position where we have to close school and quarantine as a result of an epidemic;
  • Bring the variety of personal learning strategies I have had to employ in my relearning, while quickly moving from instructing in the classroom to online teaching, to back into the classroom with my students, readjusting my teaching style and bringing greater variety into the classroom;
  • Implement an appropriate a transition plan to bring students back into the school, one that will meet their social/emotional needs, allow them to feel safe, and understanding that the time out of school has been significantly greater than the “summer vacation” - with it will come the possibility of significant changes in the students, such as length of attention span for example;
  • Children are resilient. However, they may be coming back to school looking forward to a more “status quo” arrangement - how to explain to the changes in school – the day, the school plan;
  • Assess the students quickly, accurately, and then develop academic plans appropriate for recouping the skills that may have been lost and then moving forward in the appropriate grade level content.

 

So for this educator, the COVID-19 pandemic has definitely presented a set of new challenges nearly impossible to prepare for. But with that being said, I am eager to 1) get our students back into the classroom once we hit early August and 2) implement and apply some of these invaluable lessons I have learned throughout our developing a “new normal” as a community. If there’s one positive thought about the upcoming school year that I could leave you with, it is the feeling of being blessed as an educator at DMA. Unlike the large majority of other K-8 schools in Michigan, DMA’s small class sizes will allow me to see my kids in the classroom again very soon. We want to help as many students as we can but having 10 or less students per class gives me the opportunity to safely go back to teaching my students in the intimate setting I am used to.

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