When the novel corona virus, now known as COVID-19, came into our consciousness, in March of 2020, no one knew how it would disrupt education. In my school district, we followed a mandate by the state board of education, close the school buildings, and begin distance learning from our homes.
At first, the idea of teaching from home seemed very appetizing. Instead of waking up at 5:30 am, and stumbling my way through getting ready and out of the door by 6:30 am, I could roll out of bed at 7:30 am. No need for ironing clothing, let alone a shower, I could tend to my responsibilities in a pair of shorts, a t-shirt, and maybe a ball cap. Instead of writing up meticulous objectives, I was able to adhere to a much more simple plan book. Besides, who was going to check?
The first week seemed easy enough. I was able to assign reading from the textbook that scaffolded prior lessons from the classroom. Easy to understand assessments followed the readings. This distance learning thing is so easy! Then came the new concepts that needed to be taught.
As new material needed to be taught from a new unit, the feeling of herding cats began to befall my being. How was I going to convey the new material and answer questions as they arose? This use to be so easy in the classroom! – Not any more. The first glimmer of hope was produced by a staff meeting that was held over Zoom. More than likely, you have had a Zoom experience. My fist zoom meeting was with my fellow staff members. As usual, the loud boisterous teachers spoke, while the wall flowers kept their microphones on mute. It did not take very long to see the potential power of this tool within the distance teaching/learning realm. This could be the way to teach the concepts and answer questions!
After scheduling and conducting my class’s first face to face distance learning session, the disappointment sank in. Many of the students did not appear at the scheduled time. After emailing the missing, the excuses began to pile up. Some of the students did not have enough data. Some did not have a computer available. Others admit-tingly forgot about the class time. The realization of why my virtual classroom was in chaos rested on my very own shoulders. I was caught up in this pandemic without a plan of action.
Now as we wind down the school year, I look forward to fall and wonder whether we will be in the classroom. Nothing at this point is certain. Our state has began the process of reopening businesses, but sending students into a potentially hazardous environment is not the same as opening hair salons, and restaurants. As I write this article, there have been 104,584 deaths in the United States of America. What will the number be by August? Will our Governor send us back in the classroom or will we be distance teaching/learning yet again?
At the end of the day, I have decided not to allow the uncertainty that we all face, impact my teaching or my student’s learning experience. Today is June 1, 2020 and I am going to “COVID-Proof” my teaching plans. Over the next eight weeks, I will be developing a plan of action so that the corona virus cannot stop or even weaken a lesson. How am I going to do this? I encourage you to come back to this blog and or join us on this journey on our STEMfacebook.com. We can make a plan of action together. We can share these ideas on the facebook feed. I do not have the all the answers today, but over the next eight weeks, we will.