I am now past ten days of teaching from home.
Being away from the students has made the job more difficult. Teaching from home pushes challenges that normally exist in the spotlight. How do I reach the hardest to reach? How do I assess progress (or lack of it)? Remembering that I am still their teacher keeps me focused on what is most important in regards to them and my job as an educator.
The concept of an educator
I am going to say something and I want you to really get it, understand it, and internalize it. A teacher’s influence in the lives of their students is vitally important. Sure, you’re a teacher, but it goes far beyond that. Your example as a role model, your guidance as a mentor, your experience in actual hours/days/years on the front lines with these future citizens.
All that adds up to far more than any HEDI scale could ever reveal and it’s one of the things that make so-called “reformers” fear you the most. They don’t want to wade into the deep water of your true value to the learners you work with. That value goes far beyond the test scores and graduation rates that can be manufactured in schools that manufacture enrollment and an easily controlled culture.
Your value is found in the connections that you develop with your students. Those connections convince all sorts of students to stick with you on whatever journey you try to take them on. For some, it’s a purely intellectual challenge and they know you will feed them. For some, it’s a more personal and emotional one. Those kids know of your warmth, patience, and unconditional support. All of them count on you being there.
So how the hell do you make this happen with social distancing and self-quarantine protocols?
Stay in touch in a variety of ways
For me, it’s riding bus routes in my rural district with colleagues, delivering food from school to families. Also, distributing assignments and collecting finished work. School laptops have also been sent to students so that they can engage online. They are completing assignments on skills-based sites and communicating back-and-forth with each other and teachers using Google Classroom.
I wish I could have them back in our classroom, but wasting time wishing isn’t my style. I am maximizing my impact however I can, and making sure they still know I am here.
Keep it fun while targeting the skills
The first thing I did after getting home from the delivery run was to post this on our Google Classroom:
OKAY, Y’ALL.I went out on the Alligator bus run to deliver and pick up stuff, and FIRST:
Thank you for the starbursts, you know who you are. But if you make me a nice note calling me the best techer, I have to say make sure you spell it “teacher”, otherwise, I don’t look like I’m the best!
SECOND: I’m getting into Brain Pop Jr. to set username and passwords so I can assign videos and quizzes, AND I dropped a code to a practice quiz earlier. If you scroll down you’ll see it. All you have to do is click and take it. I’ll update you on usernames and passwords tomorrow.
THIRD: If you are online and checking this out, you need to be getting that quiz code and Readworks stuff done from the ONLINE CHOICE boards. Also, be hittin’ that IXL.
FOURTH: The S.S/SCI map-based activity will begin to get dangerous and suspenseful. I may have to private message the kids who have already started because the trip is from San Francisco to home. Along the way, there will be stops to see where outlaws got shot, where national monuments got built, where presidents were born…And you don’t want to know where you’re going to end up. That’s the real surprise.
So get busy, and keep journal-ing (and share with me so I can read along).
This is ongoing learning for me and for them
These are third graders we’re talking about. I will share some of their honest reflections, spontaneous responses, assistance in trouble-shooting I have received from these youngsters (and their parents). But not all of them have gotten online yet. I have some phone calls to make for a few I haven’t seen enough paper or online communication from. For now, being here for them since I can’t be there with them is a big deal. Some are up working by 6:30 AM. You ever want proof that you are important to them, see how they’ll get their butts out of bed for you.
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