This has been a challenging week. The Coronavirus has made its way into my area of Cuyahoga County. I knew this time was bound to come, but I didn’t expect everything to happen so quickly! I knew changes in schedules would happen, so I can’t say I was not prepared, but in all honesty, I wasn’t prepared. Here’s the question though, “How could you really be prepared for something of this level?” Again, I knew that I would have to prepare for remote/distance learning. I knew that I would need to take more precautions in regards to cleaning and disinfecting my classroom. I knew that I would have to explain to students why there is great concern over this situation. I could handle that. There was one thing I was not truly prepared for…and that was the goodbye.
On Thursday, I was informed that students should be prepared to take all their materials and books home in case we were informed that schools had to be closed. The school also had an early dismissal so when this news came along, it was quite a rush at the end of the day. Students were told to pack up and then questions started to develop. “Are we off for 2 weeks?” “Why are we doing this?” “What are we doing?” “Do I have to take everything home?” All I could say was, “We are doing this as a precaution in case we have to close. I plan on seeing you all Monday!” Yet, I was wrong…and it was harder than I could imagine.
I felt like I let them down. I feel like that I can’t help them. I honestly thought that we’d be closed for 2 weeks…but it was announced that it will be 3 weeks! My students left class at 1:30pm and I said I would see them Monday…little did I know that it would be, maybe, Monday, April 6!
Today I spent time in my classroom and with my partner teacher planning the next 3 weeks. Planning on how we can keep the normalcy in the lives of our students…and our own. These 3 weeks will not be normal…but we will make it as normal as we can.
We as educators need to remind ourselves that we have and are a large part of our students’ lives. We are people that they turn to, that they trust, that make them feel safe. Yet, at this time, we cannot be there. We need to find ways to remind students that we are a part of their lives even though we are doing “distance learning.” Provide students reminders that you are still present. Give them positive updates through however you are doing distance learning. Remember that while this may be an “extended break,” you cannot treat this as a vacation. We are still the teacher in their lives.
I’ve been considering ways that I can keep my students updated. I plan on making short videos to update my students. I told students to keep up to date and check Google Classroom daily. I’m going to do all that I can to make this normal. It won’t be easy…it won’t be normal…but it is what we have to do.
I’ve been seriously thinking about how this change can be a positive. Hopefully we will begin to see how we all need each other. Perhaps social distancing will bring us closer. Students will see how they need their teachers and, in the same way, teachers will see how much they need their students. I’ve already decided that when classes return, the first day is not going to be a big content day. It’s going to be a day of celebrating, sharing, and reflection. I’m going to make sure that my students will see how much they need each other to grow, learn, and be better!
I know that when we return that our classroom lives will be different. We will still continue to take precautions to clean the classroom. We will use hand sanitizer. We will be more careful. One thing that won’t be different is how awesome my students are.
As for saying goodbye, it still hurts that I couldn’t say more. I don’t want my students to think that I forgot about them. They will be constantly on my mind throughout this “break.” I’m excited to get back into the classroom to see them…and we still have 3 weeks to go! Until then, be safe, wash your hands, and continue to be amazing!