These are trying times for all of us. At this point, every teacher in the US is facing school closure that may be two weeks or may be the rest of the year. We’re all at our wits end and we have no idea how to navigate the world of E-Learning we have been thrust into.
I work for two small companies: Fluency Matters and Señor Wooly. My work in both settings is part time because my daily gig is teaching. When we first began to suspect that there would be closures, we never imagined that it would be basically nationwide… and that it might be for an entire quarter of our educational year. I’ve been teaching in Illinois 26 years and there’s never been ONE day when the entire state closed down for a crisis like this… now it’s at least 3 weeks.
Now that the extreme stress has passed and we’re all starting to find our routines, I am noticing more and more teachers who are upset. Upset that they can’t have more free stuff, upset that copyright still applies even when they’re forced into an unusual situation, upset that they might have to change what they had planned for the rest of the year because they can’t use that one resource they had their heart set on.
I need to get 3 things off my chest right now because the complaining is really starting to bring me down…
- There isn’t much toilet paper to be found. Everyone needs it, I need it… I don’t go in Walmart and TAKE it… even though I really need it and you really need it, we don’t even consider stealing from a neighbor or from the store. This is what it sounds like when teachers get mad that they can’t make a PDF of a book or record themselves reading it. “But this is what I was going to do next…” Well we are all in a new world of not doing exactly what we were going to do next. Be flexible and do the right thing. Change your plans.
- You gave me this free, now give me more free. Guys… that’s not financially responsible for a small business. Everyone is hurting right now. Schools are not even THINKING about next year’s supplies… this is going to hit our economy hard. Be thankful for the people who stepped up and got us through the hardest time… the two weeks when we had no time to plan. We just said goodbye (some didn’t even get that) and started the adventure of E-Learning. Schools are still being funded. Talk to your administrators. They want you to be successful teaching from a distance. Instead of assuming they would never get you something that you can use with your students, find out. If they won’t, they won’t… but be thankful for what we’ve been given and don’t complain about what you think you need next! I couldn’t have done these first two weeks without the free ECourses and Sr. Wooly plans. Period. Thank you Carol and Pat, Jim and Jen.
- “I need a way to assess my students without them cheating by using online resources like Google Translate.” Guys, make some changes in your assessments. These kids are teaching themselves right now. Some have no internet. Some have no parental support. Some are hungry. Some haven’t been sleeping because they’re scared… Those interpersonal assessments can wait until fall. This learning is not going to be the same as learning in the classroom with us. PLEASE be flexible. PLEASE adapt so that your goal isn’t to push them to keep up with your normal quarter 4 plans but rather to keep your target language in their ear and love for your class in their heart.
We can get through this together. Our primary concern right now should be the mental health of our students and our fellow educators. They/We can’t see friends. Everything they’ve/we’ve been looking forward to is being cancelled. Oh yeah, and there are a lot of people we know getting sick. School work is great for taking their minds off the scary stuff, for helping them keep a basic routine, and for giving them something to keep their mind busy but it can’t be school business as usual. Connect with them, ease up on them, and lighten their load.
Next year, God willing, we will start in August and we’ll ALL KNOW… every one of us across the nation… that last year’s classes may not have covered as much. We’ll make some adjustments and we’ll move on. Take some time today to send a nice note to your students… to make a change in the day’s expectations and let them know that you were worried about the stress they might be under… to ask them how they’re doing. I promise that they will appreciate you so much when they see that you’re putting connection over content.