Our world is in turmoil right now. This COVID-19 pandemic is impacting our lives in ways we would not have expected. This is a time when our leaders need to step up and lead from the front.
Unfortunately, I don’t feel our government is inspiring confidence right now. We don’t have enough tests or supplies, and our health care system is unable to handle all of the testing required. The number of people who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 increases at an alarming rate, and the constant news is depressing. Most of us are following the advice of health experts by social distancing or sheltering-in-place to avoid contact with others to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Restaurants are take-out or delivery only, events are being postponed or cancelled, and our daily lives have changed as we follow the instructions of the doctors and health care professionals.
I am concerned about COVID-19’s impact on everyone. As a retired educator, one of my major concerns is with our schools. School is where students can learn new things, where they can discover what they are passionate about, where they can make new friends and learn how to work with others. Teachers chose to be educators; they love working with kids, and they create lessons that meet the needs of their students. Teachers work tirelessly, and positive memories can last long after a student leaves the classroom.
Schools have been impacted by this pandemic. Students, teachers, and communities are uncertain about when or whether schools will reopen and whether they will be safe. We want to ensure that students are ready for the next step in their educational journey. However, questions about health and safety in this coronavirus era will linger especially with the number of new cases being identified every day. Many schools and districts have opted to go to distance learning, but that can be challenging for students as well as teachers.
I read a post by a teacher friend on social media who teaches in another state; she is using flexible learning with her elementary school students. She wrote, “Being ‘on-call’ is tiring. Waking up by 8am, answering questions from parents and students all morning through night, while interacting with students through Google classroom with texting and messaging, and providing daily ‘Check for Understanding’ question threads. Along with countless correcting/editing their daily journal entries, math, and checking their iReady responses and their progress. I CANNOT WAIT FOR THE WEEKEND!” Other teachers shared that they were similarly exhausted with this new way of teaching. Fortunately, these teachers are able to continue teaching their students from home via flexible learning; this can be challenging!
I agree that learning needs to continue during this COVID-19 pandemic. I also agree that the health and safety of our school personnel needs to be taken into consideration. This is the time for school leaders to lead from the front, to get feedback from their teachers about what they feel is best for their students, and to let teachers drive teaching and learning in this new social distancing environment. I think this is an opportunity for professional growth, for sharing ideas that work, and for thinking outside the box to engage and empower students in their own learning.
Sometimes, it takes something major to make changes in how we do things. This is one of those times. School leaders can use this time of turmoil to lead from the front. Teachers will have an opportunity to be creative and to try new ways of teaching, and students will be the beneficiaries of this collaboration.