It's April 15th... a month since schools and colleges closed in New York City. Almost overnight teachers, professors, and other educators had to learn how to teach their students of all ages remotely using electronic devices. Understanding the language of distance education, on-line instruction, researching the multitude of platforms that support working and teaching from home, selecting which platform to use, re-designing course content and syllabi to be more suitable for an on-line format, and then beginning to hold on-line classes synchronously and asynchronously.... it's been a daunting and anxiety-ridden transition for someone like me who has been a staunch supporter of in-person teaching and learning. But we're doing it - my colleagues and I at the college levels, and my students at the early childhood and primary school levels. We're figuring it out and are now teaching from home.
What I found was that my class sessions for now have been 40% hand-holding and sharing resources with my students, and 60% teaching of content. And that's okay - I firmly believe that my goal as a college professor at this time is not to strive for the perfect on-line class. We are in crisis mode and each of us is sheltering at home with our family members while continuing to work. There are interruptions, disruptions, technological challenges, worrying about adequate food supplies and the well-being of our loved ones near and far. My goal during this time is to offer the most supportive, empathetic, understanding and stress-free class sessions while also getting some of the course work completed. My students are overjoyed each week just to log in, see each other in the virtual "classroom", greet each other, share their worries, ask for help with resources, and find comfort in the advice and consolations they get from each other. I find my groups to be stronger classroom communities than ever before because of their common fight and shared struggle with living in the time of Covid. And I so look forward to seeing them each week myself. Because what a teacher most needs is to see the faces of her students. The non-verbal language and the interpersonal connections between teacher and learner still take priority in my definition of teaching and learning.
I am proud of my students - for their courage, their persistence, their empathy, and their care and support for each other. I remind them that as they share their struggles in these difficult days they should also share with each other who or what continues to spark joy in them. To look for that glimmer of brightness however slim it might be.
Spring still blossoms in the climate of Covid...