Teaching in the COVID Era–A New Year

Teaching in the COVID Era–A New Year

We are grateful to everyone who shared their experiences and thoughts about coping with the COVID induced challenges as the school year wound down. Now, with the beginning of a new school year, it seems that the challenges will continue. Plans to keep children and teachers safe seem to need constant readjustment. Some districts that intended to open in person have already had to switch back to virtual schooling. Some districts are doing hybrid courses, giving parents and students the option of returning to a brick and mortar school or staying at home and attending virtual classes. We know this will continue to place great demands on your time, energy, and creativity. It would be wondrful, however, if you can fit in a moment or two to post something about your experiences. Good luck to everyone.

The image with this post was created by art teacher, Wendy Milne, Ed.D. to depict her thoughts and feelings when the pandemic resulted in her school closing down at the end of last year.

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Marykate Taylor
Marykate Taylor
1 month ago

With this pandemic having such an impact on my life and education, I cannot help but share my experience and thoughts on the matter. The complete transition from face to face to online was nothing short of overwhelming, and I cannot imagine how much more stressful it was for my professors to make that transition as well. Nevertheless, this experience has given both the educators and students an opportunity to experiment and grow in their online learning and skills in using technology (or at least me personally). Although it is unfortunate that some schools were unable to reopen this fall, I am grateful to be one of the few that does get to go back and experience face to face. I hope that with this whole situation, we can work to make the best out of this situation and hopefully make the above picture into a more controlled and positive image.

Topic
My Personal Experience & Thoughts
Maria Piantanida
Maria Piantanida
1 month ago

MaryKate,
I love the positive attitude that you are bringing to the challenges of the new school year. I hope you will be able to maintain in-person classes. Keep us posted on how the year continues to evolve.
Maria

Angeline McCown
Angeline McCown
1 month ago

Personally, with this whole pandemic going on I would say it has really been a struggle for me. Although, through the struggles it has shown me what it means to really trust in the day to day process and to learn to be more positive. I do believe I am a very positive person overall, but this pandemic has really shown me what it means to be positive even during the strangest and hardest of times. With that, I feel as human beings we tend to like to look at the future and plan for it, but with everything going on we cannot do that without having a backup and a backup to that backup, because everything is changing constantly.
Going back to last semester, it was a huge struggle for me to have to be sent home from school and finish online. For me, going home usually meant summer and good times, but this time it meant going home to quarantine and to do school. I would have to say, I truly did struggle. But like I said, with this struggle, I learned a lot. I think we all did. I think we all still need to work together to make the best of the situation and to help each other out and make this a lesson to grow from. I am blessed to be able to come back to school for face-to-face classes, but there is still that fear that we will be sent home. I pray and hope that we get to stay here for the whole year, especially since it is my senior year, but we must stay positive and play it day to day.
May this year continue to be face-to-face, that we may grow in strength together through the hard times, and also, that this senior year is filled with love, support, and good times especially now days.

Topic
My Experiences and Thoughts
Maria Piantanida
Maria Piantanida
1 month ago

Angeline,
You bring a wise perspective to this trying time. It’s easy to be positive when everything is going according to plan. It takes courage and determination to remain positive in the face of disruptions. Often the most profound lessons we learn emerge from such challenging experiences. I hope the coming year goes better than any of expect. But whatever happens, you’re bringing a great attitude to your senior year. Maria

Lauren Betar
Lauren Betar
1 month ago

When reflecting upon the past few months, it is almost comforting to remember that we are all experiencing the same things. We are experiencing new learning curves almost every day as we try to best navigate through education during these trying times. No one knows what is going to happen tomorrow, next week, or even in six months. Although these times are challenging, I think we are all learning very important lessons along the way. We as people have learned important values like pushing through adversity and being creative. 

The visual that was attached to this post really sums the past couple of months up pretty neatly. There has been a lot of chaos and craziness in our lives. We are just trying to do our best and to cling something that feels normal. My heart goes out to all of the teachers both in the physical classrooms and those who are teaching online. Thank you for paving the way into the next chapter of the education world and for your hard work and dedication to not only your profession but also to your students!

Topic
My Experiences and Thoughts
Maria Piantanida
Maria Piantanida
1 month ago
Reply to  Lauren Betar

Lauren,
thanks for your comment. I, too, like Wendy’s sketch about the unsettled educational environment we are experiencing. In the book, On Being a Scholar-Practitioner: Practical Wisdom in Action, my co-authors and I contrast improvisational to formal teaching. Never in our wildest imaginings did we foresee improvisation to this extent. Last night on the news they showed teachers who were finding creative ways to feel connected to their students–from putting life-size pictures of their students at their desks, to having each child send a stuffed animal to represent them, to decorating plexiglass space dividers as cars. It was so inspiring to see teachers meeting new challenges with so much imagination. I hope that such stories spark ideas for other teachers and soon we will be flooded with new approaches for dealing with what ever challenges we face. Maria

Anna McDermott
Anna McDermott
1 month ago

During this crazy time and everything going on in the world, I actually feel blessed to be in college. Being able to experience the pandemic as both a student and a future teacher has opened up my eyes to the struggles my future students may encounter. Before last spring, I had never experienced virtual learning. Although my professors were so kind and hardworking, I struggled greatly. It was very difficult for me to get into the school mindset when I was at home, not in my normal college environment, and stressed about the state of the world. However, with the help of my professors I was able to finish the semester feeling proud and accomplished. This experience furthered both my appreciation for my professors and my desire to do the same for my future students. Although I’m not very technologically savvy, I want to learn as much as I can to prepare myself for the possibility of online teaching next year. It is our job as educators to equip ourselves with the tools our students need to thrive. If I struggled so much as a twenty-one year old, I can’t imagine how hard it must be to experience this as a high school or middle school student. This knowledge only inspires me more, and makes me want to work as hard as possible to be the best teacher I can be.

Maria Piantanida
Maria Piantanida
1 month ago
Reply to  Anna McDermott

Anna,
Having just taught my first on-line course this summer, I deeply appreciate you comments. I found it challenging in ways I had not expected or prepared for. Thinking about your current experience from botha student and teacher perspective will serve you well as you move into a professional role. It would be great for all those preparing to be teachers to use this opportunity and their experiences to prpare for on-line learning environments. It seems to me that no matter what comes after the pandemic, education will never be the same. Future teachers like you will be at the forefront of using lessons gained during the pandemic to create far more productive on-line learning strategies. Maria

Chiara Ricupero
Chiara Ricupero
1 month ago

After experiencing virtual learning as a high school student, I came to the realization that teaching would never be the same. I was enrolled in a class called Tomorrow’s Teachers where we were paired with a teacher from the local elementary or middle schools. As a part of the class I would walk to the middle school at my designated time and actually student teach in that classroom. It was so much fun getting to know the students and being able to teach for the first time in a formal setting. Everything was going on track until the virus hit and we were all immediately sent home for virtual learning. Although we went virtual, I was still able to teach and interact with the students over Teams calls. Coming from the student perspective, I had a very hard time focusing. There were so many distractions at home and I rarely wanted to use my camera, especially if it was 8:00 am. I realized the importance of these calls later on as I was teaching the 8th graders. It was important for them to see me and feel some type of engagement while online. I also know now that staying in touch with my future students is going to be essential for their mental health and progress in learning. The teachers who reached out to me once and a while or just checked in were the ones I felt more comfortable talking to and I thus wanted to participate in the class. I know that this has been a struggle for so many educators, but I also know that in order to have a successful school year communication is essential.

Topic
My Personal Experiences and Thoughts
Maria Piantanida
Maria Piantanida
1 month ago

Chiara,
For the past two weeks I participated in a research project that asked about my activities,. thoughts and feelings during each day. One question asked, “How hopeful are you that something good will come from the pandemic?” Another asked, “How much do you feel something negative will come from the pandemic?” I responded in the middle of the 9-point scale, because it’s hard to know which way things will go as we return to a post-pandemic normal. As I read your comments, I’m inclined to lean a bit more to the positive positive possibilities. It seems to me that future teachers like you will bring a far different sensibility to your teaching and on-line learning than some of us “old timers” can. Having experienced both sides of the distance learning environment, you are positioned to think about it in more sophisticated ways than I can. As you continue to move toward a career in teaching, you have time to really think about how to use on-line resources more productively and cratively than has been done in the past. If you can bring this sensibility to all of your studies, you can enter the profession with important insights that offer hope for truly innovative approaches to teaching. I hope you’ll stay connected through the NEXUS. Best wishes for your continued studies. Maria

Diana Costantini
Diana Costantini
1 month ago

These past few months have been hard for everyone, and students and teachers are no exception. Students are struggling to adjust to new forms of learning, and teachers are scrambling to keep up with the requirements from their districts and superiors. My younger brothers are both still in high school, and their school made the decision to bring half the students into the building for a half day, and bringing the other half of the student body in for the second half of the day. Since my brothers attend a private school, my parents felt that this was disrespectful to the parents who were paying to send their students to this school. The conversations in my house were difficult, to say the least, as I saw firsthand how parents of students might feel about the decisions made by teachers and administration during the COVID pandemic for this semester. Clearly, the goal of the teachers is to keep the students safe, while still giving them an education, but for some parents, it seems that this isn’t enough.

Maria Piantanida
Maria Piantanida
1 month ago

Diana, You’ve added an important element to the discussion thread about schooling during the pandemic. Namely, how parents are reacting to the accommodations that schools are trying to make to fulfill their obligations to educate while keeping students safe. As you point out, this is no easy task, even for private schools that have far more resources than many public schools. One of the themes that appears in educational literature is “parent involvement.” It seems to me that the distance learning situation gives a whole new meaning to this theme. It’s one thing to have parental involvement on the periphery of school (e.g., supporting sports teams, attending parent-teacher conferences, making sure kids finish their homework). It is quite a different thing to have parents involved in supervising at-home learning or trying to teach lessons provided by teachers. It’s still a third thing to have parents involved in reconfiguring the structure and resources of schools in order to promote as high a level of learning as possible for as many students as possible during a time of restrictions. As an eyewitness to the difficulties of these dilemmas related to “parental involvement,” you are in a good position to think about this issue and perhaps include it as an area of learning you will continue to pursue. Best of luck to you, your brothers, and your parents. Stay in touch and keep is posted on how things evolve. Maria