For many of us who teach, Spring Break is a long awaited period for all to “recharge, re-visit, and reengage with those beyond the school community”. I was stoked about the break as I know my students were, it had been a long 9 week period for our kiddos working through many behavior issues. Spring Break allows for all to rest up for the last 9 weeks of school, which holds days of “end of year testing”. This period of the school year holds a great deal of stress for kiddos who have and still are experinencing trauma filled days.
Sooooo, as we are packing up and saying our goodbyes we couldn’t help to hear the latest pandemic (COVID-19) to hit the United States and how it is affecting persons and the environments about them. Students were concerned about becoming ill, who would care for them at home, and what if this event causes schools to close for a bit, how will we learn, who will be our safe person, what will be our safe place, and will I be OK.
Leaving my classroom (March 13; a Friday the 13th) with the whiteboards updated with March 23, 2020 (date we return) and Easter bunnies decor about the room, I couldn’t help to think, “will we be returning to a different looking school setting, will we be returning at all, and what will happen to our kiddos and their emotional care if the break extends beyond 1 week.” A week later a whole new school year began for the last 9 week period, enter new ways of teaching and yet a persisitant thought remained; “are our kiddos being cared for, emotionally and behaviorally at this time.”
The coming days; my brain had to process a whole new dialogue of educating children from technology standpoint and from a distant learning platform, as returning to the classroom was not possible for awhile. Not only did I have to process educational needs of the kiddos more importantly I was concerned for their emotional needs.
Armed with persistence and a desire to engage with my students, via technology, I delve into researching various technology platforms by which I could reach and teach my students, more importantly have a “face to face conversation” with each student. Creative lessons were designed and presented through video means. One factor stood out in all student contacts, “they were glad to see their teacher and their teacher was excited to see them.” Now that the school year has officially come to an end and distant learning has become the “new way to present content” I head towards the summer to not only rest but to learn how to engage students to learn and share their thoughts during the upcoming school year.
Persistance means continuing on even despite the “roadblocks that arise in one’s life.” Working with students who have experienced trauma and who require adults to be their “go to person” in stressful times is a priority for each teacher to address the emotional well being of their students before presenting academic content. A mindset of “building relationships first then academics second” must be a priority at this time and when returning to the classroom either remotely or in person. To put all emphasis on “reaching that academic standard” before addressing students’ feelings creates an environment of distrust, disconnect, and disengagement by the student.
How do you plan to connect with your students? How will their emotional and behavioral needs be met? How will you, their teacher, present academic content in light of the long break and the events your students may have experienced during this unique time in education?
How will persistance look for your classroom? The boulder in the way of your journey, so to speak, the boulder that stands in the way of your goals. Will you allow that boulder to crush your enthusiasm and creativity or will you turn the boulder into a seat, where you will sit and think of ways to “move forward”?
Share your thoughts…. I would love to read the creative thinking you each possess.