Teaching in a Pandemic :: The Lows and the Highs

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This is completely new territory for all of us, and please know that, as a teacher, I am grateful. I am still being paid. I am still employed. I am getting to spend more time with my son than I ever have during a school year. I am more thankful for my leaders than ever before. There is so, so much for me to be grateful for during this time. I’m just here to give you a little glimpse into what it’s been like teaching in a pandemic. 

The Lows

This is hard. It was never meant to be this way. Everything I have learned about early childhood education and every bit of my philosophy for teaching is centered around COMMUNITY. The first (easily) six weeks of the kindergarten year is spent on community building. In every book I’ve read, or any practicum I’ve ever completed, never once did it mention building community through Zoom (or, in our case, Google Meet). Community building is just not designed to be done remotely.

There are so many things I miss about being IN school with my students. I miss sitting in our circle every morning. We would start our day by reading All in a Day by Cynthia Rylant. Each day, a different student would greet the whole class. We have become a family.

I miss messing up on something or being clumsy and catching eyes of one of my kids and us just giggling. We got each other. I am not designed to be a deliverer of academic assignments. That is such a small fraction of being a kindergarten teacher.

And, truthfully, nothing that I have said even takes into account how hard this has been for the children. They miss their friends. They miss recess. They are really too young to understand this. I have experienced this with my own child, even though he is not yet school-aged. I have sat awake at night wondering if he will have a hard time adjusting to a social life again. It’s just hard. 

The Highs

We are doing the best we can. I am confident in saying that for every person I work with and every person I work for. No one wants this to be the case. No one likes these circumstances. I may not always agree with our state leaders, but I truly know they are doing the best they can. I want to touch on some “silver linings” of this experience.

For one, we have learned to collaborate more than ever before. I have worked with my team more closely during this time of being isolated than we ever did in school. Most of that was because of lack of time, but it has been a beautiful benefit to distance learning. We have spent hours on Google Meets and conference calls trying to figure out what is best for our students during this time (while meeting the guidelines we have been given).

Another gift has been technology. Can you even imagine what this would look like if we didn’t have technology? Thankfully, this happened towards the end of the year. We have been able to push out interactive activities that reinforce what we have taught and learned all year.

Finally, this has given me an appreciation. It has made me thankful for those early morning alarms. It has made me thankful for my chatty co-workers. I’d give a lot to hear about their weekends at the lunch table right now. Perspective truly is a gift. 

The Takeaways

Show some grace to your child’s teacher. Show some grace to your children. I mean it when I say we are doing the best we can. We miss your children. We miss each other. Hopefully, this will all be in the rear-view mirror so very soon.

If you’re a parent and you’re at your wits’ end, just stop. Go play. No child is going to be ahead and no child is going to be behind. Your child will be exactly where they are meant to be. No one planned for a pandemic. The emotional well-being of your child is so, so much more important than any academic standing. So please, for me, just stop and take a moment to play with your child. The schoolwork can always wait. 

 

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Haley was born and raised right here in Birmingham, and feels blessed to call it home. She is a Christian, wife to her husband CJ, and mama to a 22-month old little boy, Whitt. Haley went to college at Lipscomb University in Nashville, and then moved back home to pursue her Master’s Degree at UAB. She is a kindergarten teacher - and even teaches at the same school she attended as a child! When Haley is not teaching, she is chasing around her very active toddler, spending time with family and friends, listening to music, reading, or cheering on the Tide. Haley is so excited to be a part of this amazing group of women!