As an educator, there are many things I am mourning during the current health crisis. I miss my classroom, the space that I spent all year creating and making our own. I miss the school library and the countless other resources available within school walls. I miss little moments with my coworkers: shared smiles and high fives to celebrate a student’s victory. I miss being on my feet all day. I am not accustomed to spending hours in a computer chair. Most of all, I miss my students. I miss starting and ending every day with seven little hugs. I miss seeing their smiles in person. I miss being able to help them through the difficult moments. I miss them, but I am lucky. I am so incredibly lucky to be working for a school that, so quickly, was able to adapt to remote online learning.
I still get to see my students every day. We missed no time in the transition between classroom learning and remote learning. I, unlike some teachers in the public schools, did not have to go weeks without seeing my students’ faces. I was able to remind them right away that I am still their teacher and that I am still here for them. We were able to begin our video chat lessons immediately.
As a first year teacher, especially, it has not been easy to pivot into this new routine just as I was starting to find my groove in the classroom. I could not have done this without the unwavering support of the EPIC team. Every single member of the team has gone above and beyond what is expected of them. I have seen school leaders, teachers, teachers assistants, administrators, and more stay up into the night to write new remote lesson schedules, provide differentiated academic content for each student, and take non-stop calls and emails asking for all kinds of support in this unusual time. Sometimes we feel more like vloggers than teachers, speaking to a webcam instead of a room full of tiny faces. With each new challenge, the EPIC team has stepped up to the plate with a smile and a positive attitude to reassure every community member that we can do this!
The other side of our community has been just as awe-inspiring. Our students’ families never could have imagined that they would be taking on these educator roles, but they have shown outstanding flexibility, perseverance and tenacity. I can not imagine the strength it takes to balance working from home and caring for a child 24/7. I feel like I have grown closer to these amazing families in the last four weeks of remote learning than I did all year. That’s saying something considering that before the health crisis, we were already a very tight-knit community. I am inspired by the EPIC families in so many ways. I can truly say that I feel incredibly blessed to be navigating this strange time in history with them.
So while yes, I do wish that the situation were different, I consider myself lucky. I get to see and talk to my incredible coworkers every day. We still get to put our heads together to collaborate and make sure that we are doing our best for our students. I still get to spend time with my students every day. I’m lucky enough to laugh with them and learn with them. We have implemented many different online resources, such as FlipGrid, NearPod and ClassDojo, that I will continue to use throughout my teaching career. I still feel like the EPIC team and I are irreplaceable parts of our students’ education. We may be physically separated at this time, but we are still a strong, solid community.