Walk a Mile in a Teacher’s Shoes

"Shoe family II" by Sami Taipale is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

I know that I, as well as my children, are often frustrated with the remote and blended learning environment this fall due to COVID-19.  When I hear my boys expressing disappointment by not feeling challenged or worried about not understanding a lesson, I feel so bad for their emotional well-being as well as their academic progress this fall.  So, I find myself venting to my mom and dad who are both community college instructors to relieve my own stress.  They listen patiently and even express interest when I share a creative technology that the boys are utilizing.  My dad teaches only online.  My mom was teaching in a “COVID-free bunker” by videotaping her lectures synchronously with students in another classroom – and then uploading the lectures online for other students.

BUT THEN…our state’s governor lifted the COVID-19 restrictions for schools.  Additionally, my mom had a formative assessment completed to receive feedback from students about their learning experience.  The result was that my mom re-entered the classroom with students – all wearing masks, socially distancing, and using antiseptic cleaners for tables and chairs between classes.  I was not happy about the risk she was taking, but what was she to do? 

A few days ago, I stumbled upon a program posted by EdNC on August 3, 2020: “Perspective/Supporting and Lifting Up Teachers in the World of COVID-19.”  It looked interesting, and it was VERY interesting.  Two teachers talked about how they were going to approach the new school year with remote and blended teaching.  However, it was the summary provided that really got my attention given by Dr. Mary Ann Wolf, President and Executive Director of the Public School Forum of North Carolina.  Below, I will quote her words of wisdom which is allowing me to “walk in a teacher’s shoes” to gain a different perspective to our new-normal that I need to hear.

  1. First, we must develop and share with our educators and families the metrics by which we make decisions for transitioning from one school reopening plan to another.
  2. Second, teachers have shared just how scared they are for their own health, the health of their families, and the health of their students and colleagues.
  3. Third, many of our teachers also have children of their own. They are trying to navigate this strange new world as parents, like so many of us are, while also teaching and meeting the needs of their students.
  4. Fourth, social and emotional learning applies to students AND adults. As we move forward into the school year, we must check in with our teachers and understand where they are so that we can support their well-being.
  5. Finally, I would be remiss if I did not point out the obvious: all of this support — for our educators, our schools, and our students — requires resources. Last week [on our show,] we highlighted the significant impact that unstable budgets could have on schools this upcoming year thanks to unexpected declines in enrollment.

If you also find this helpful for a balanced approach to living with COVID-19 this fall, I encourage you to visit the website and watch the video interview.  https://www.ncforum.org/education-matters-ep-146-supporting-and-lifting-up-teachers-in-the-world-of-covid-19/

This will be enlightening.

– Jen

Thank you for photo! “Shoe family II” by Sami Taipale is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Published by Jen Dahlin

Author of fiction and nonfiction for adults and children.

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