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MY WORD: This is a teacher's view of distance learning
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MY WORD: This is a teacher's view of distance learning

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What a week!

When school first started, I thought to myself, “What in the world will I do all day without students in my room?” Well, let me tell you:

I answer 100+ emails every day, I Zoom with my students every day (three classes each day for 30 minutes) where I go over their lesson in Canvas, teach the lesson for that day, answer their questions, try to get them to talk and share things so I can get to know them better, and then manage the classes to make sure everyone has a shirt on, has themselves muted while I’m teaching, take attendance and make sure they all can access the websites and videos for that day — then I’m constantly checking their work (because everyone can’t get their assignments done each day for different reasons), I’m planning with the BEST ever math team, I’m designing my lessons in Canvas (where we are still learning and teaching ourselves new tricks and strategies), then I’m making activities and assessments to put in Canvas, (between all this I’ve talked to several parents and students to help troubleshoot iPad issues or even calm a mom who’s overwhelmed and crying). Then I’m actually recording my lessons for each day (to help those students who can’t meet on Zoom and for those who did meet but need more instruction and examples) — meetings and PD, then I reach out to my teammates and guidance counselor to discuss students who we haven’t seen at all or those who may need assistance, and then I’m checking for more work and entering grades, and at 3:30 p.m. I’m thinking, “Where did the day go??”

Did I mention I’ve emailed and called parents and students myself to offer help or schedule a meeting to help with technology?

THEN I go home to check on my own high school student, who by the way is ROCKING virtual learning and doing chores to help me out.

After cooking dinner, I’m answering emails from those students who don’t understand the lesson or assignments and answering parents who just got home from work to help their child. I’ve had many phone calls after dinner to help those parents and grandparents. I had planned not to answer all those emails in the evenings, but I’m thinking that if they want to learn and are asking for help, how can I not help them?

Last Sunday, I worked at least 6 hours sending out emails to parents about missing assignment and asking how I can assist them to get their child on track and caught up AND getting assignments graded and recorded. On that Friday night I was helping a grandmother with iPad issues and websites.

I’m trying to stay positive (as my teammate keeps reminding us), and think to myself — I want to be the kind of teacher these children deserve to have right now. They are tired of being at home, bored being there alone and possibly sick of hearing their parents complain. We’re all in this together — teachers, administration, aides, parents and students are responsible for educating our children now. Let’s work together — think how great their education could be!

Finally, I’m trying to encourage my students to join Zoom more often just so I can get to know them and because those who are joining are more active in their learning and excelling in this new way of learning. I’m working on an incentive to get students more involved. So — my days are FULL, and some days I do leave the building feeling stressed. But I know most of us are giving our very best as are our students and their parents!

I never realized how lonely it would be in a quiet room in front of a computer all day. I’m looking forward to my school days like they were before March 13 — full of students, laughter, papers everywhere, silly questions, actual HUGS (yes, me!), answering questions or dealing with drama while trying to eat lunch, remediating students during my break, answering the same questions over and over, germs and NO masks, and the sweet smiles as they enter my room and actually having a conversation with my sixth-graders.

I read a social media post this morning commenting on how you really don’t know what a teaching is facing or what the parents and students are facing, so just be KIND! I’ll have to agree!!

Shannon Ford is a sixth-grade teacher at Laurel Park Middle School.

Shannon Ford is a sixth-grade teacher at Laurel Park Middle School.

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