As my time learning to be a teacher draws to a close, I find myself in an odd limbo. I am required to observe students and teachers in a real-world teaching situation in order to progress but all the schools are shuttered due to the once-in-a-lifetime pandemic. I have an enormous amount of free-time to work from home in my old career and continue mastering how to teach children for my new career but it seems more and more likely that I will not get to actually be in a classroom until next fall. (fingers crossed)
In the meantime, I remind myself that I taught pre-school for nearly a decade and I’ve done in-class observations before. My philosophy of teaching is still as strong as it ever was and I find myself hoping with every ounce of my being that the students currently hunkered down with their families are learning life lessons I could never teach them in a classroom. How to sacrifice for the common good, how to find joy in quiet moments of “nothing to do,” and how to appreciate the social web everyone misses so very much right now.
I am tickled by all the social media memes and political cartoons that laud teachers and the teaching profession. When an entire country has to suddenly home-school their children, it can be hoped that they learn a little bit about how hard educating students in a group can be and hopefully teachers will garner a bit more respect. However, the one aspect I am most concerned about is the state of special education. The accommodations and modifications required to teach students with unique needs doesn’t seemed to have translated well once those students were moved to a home environment. These students, who already struggle and are often behind their peers in educational achievement are going to be further behind. While sad, at least they’ll be alive.
Being a grade or two behind is a small price to pay. My advice to parents at this time is don’t worry about the math and reading. Teach your child to cook and sew. Plant a garden as Spring progresses. Get out of the house and enjoy life away from the screens and textbooks. It will all be there next year, and the year after that. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to live.