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Teaching During COVID-19: Top Three Takeaways

I remember reading about a virus that was spreading rapidly in January, and even more in February. At the beginning of March there were schools in Metro Atlanta that began having cases of COVID-19. This prompted talks within my school of what would happen if someone at our school contracted it. We talked about the possibility of a week, at most, two week shut down, but other than that we didn’t give it much thought. We were in the middle of our second Project Based Learning Cycle and we were trying to make sure we would cover all the standards before the year is out. Really it was March, and March for teachers is BRUTAL because there are no breaks in my district! To be honest, we were just trying to make it to Spring Break.

My at-home teaching set-up for 10 weeks!

Then March 10th came, and our school leaders started talking about the school closing for two weeks to allow for a deep cleaning of the school. We immediately shifted to trying to make sure we would have materials for scholars up until Spring Break. Little did we know that this would last the entire rest of the year, 10 weeks to be exact! All in all, my school did a great job with pivoting and making the best out of the situation. Our school already used Google Classroom for our Professional Development Days, we were able to pass out technology for students who needed it, and food was still provided to families for pick up. I did my best with my class. We met over Google Meet for live classes twice a week, I recorded videos for the other days, and I extended grace knowing that everyone’s situation was different. We got through the rest of the year, and celebrated at the end to recognize all of the hard work we put in. I learned a lot though and I know my teaching practice will never be the same because of it. Here are my top 3 takeaways:

1. Relationship is KEY! This fact runs deep in all areas of education, but I find myself being amazed at the benefits of building positive and genuine relationship with my scholars and their families over and over again. This was a rough time for a lot of people. Already having strong relationships with my families allowed me to fall back on the trust we already built throughout the year. We knew that we had already made it this far together, and we would finish the year off well no matter what else came our way.

2. School isn’t the only place kids learn! For most of my scholars their families were still trying to juggle jobs and hold down the household, while also taking on more responsibility with their scholar’s education. While I did still have assignments that scholars had to complete that were similar to what we would do in the classroom, I also made sure to stress to families that their kids are always learning! Reading together is learning. Cooking together is learning! Working in the garden is learning! Letting them play for hours on end is learning! I wanted them to know that their scholars would in fact be okay and all activities don’t have to be “structured” in order for them to be of benefit. I am taking this fact with me into the next school year as well.

3. We must be proactive and creative with our approaches and make sure that ALL scholars needs are addressed! Any time a crisis comes, we are exposing our deepest failures as a nation! When my school realized the building would be closed for the rest of the year, our minds went immediately to our scholars on the margins. The scholars who may not have technology at home. The scholars who do not have extended family members who can help support while working adults are out of the home. The scholars who eat their best meals at school. Everyone keeps talking about how great distance learning can be, but we cannot forget the population of our school system who will not benefit from learning at home only.

I have been praying over this upcoming school year. While I don’t know what will be yet, I am excited for the new school year and all its possibilities. What did you learn from distance learning this pass year? Please share in the comments!

Love y’all!

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