We are all stressed. Every teacher in the nation, no matter how adapted to using technology in the classroom, is now being ordered by their respective governments to provide all content through various forms of distance learning. Every teacher is now being tasked with not only handling their own families and anxieties but also with the added pressure of moving all curriculum online. Curriculum which was never designed nor intended for such a move. In Minnesota, we have been granted 8 days from the governor to adjust to this system. From the ESL perspective, this is a monumental task only overshadowed by that of the SpED teachers. How can we effectively provide services to students, especially those who are new to country? The answers remain to be uncovered in the weeks and months following this national experiment.
At this point in time, teachers are being asked to decide what items need to be cut. Mind you, these types of decisions are typically made at a district or state level by teams of people. Now, individual teachers have this added burden.
What is more, none of our students signed up for this. Online learning is time and labor intensive and requires a good amount of self discipline and excellent problem solving skills. Many of my students have struggled through a course in which the teacher completely bypassed them because they needed more attention than the other students. I feel like online learning is only going to compound on this creating a massive gap in grades and credits.
In one way, I am excited about this prospect. I am very much so a problem driven person. I enjoy new challenges and the freedom to create something new and make it exciting and engaging. But there is another side of that coin. One that has my anxiety up so high that I’m afraid I may freeze. One minute I am shooting out ideas and people are writing them down. The next, I’m sitting at my desk, my mind running in circles like a dog chasing its tail.
Every teacher I am interacting with is feeling the same. But if there is one thing that anyone can take away from this disease it’s that we’re all in this together. Teachers have created a Facebook group dedicated to collecting resources and ideas to be shared. Educational companies are providing free services to teachers and students throughout the quarantine. School districts and restaurants are providing meals for students, regardless of socioeconomic status. I feel proud to be a part of the solution. That drives me whenever I get stuck.