by Cate Laurence, 05/18/2020, Gaylord, MI

Adult Category

Teachers Learn an Essential Lesson
Catherine Laurence 30 year teacher

COVID-19 sent us all home to learn a new game, new rules. Suddenly nothing is as it was. It is the same growth mindset we teach our students that empowers teachers to face the many challenges of distance learning: orientating parents and students to virtual classrooms that we virtually just stepped into ourselves; learning new applications and tools for instructional delivery; how to collect, grade, and return digital work; creating office space in our homes; and being ever so humbled as we launch auxiliary careers as overnight YouTube sensations.

We are challenged with worries and emotions: we miss our kids, feel the loose threads of a school year dangling, regret words unsaid and high fives left hanging.

How did we overcome this challenge? We share inspirational quotes. We encourage students to set personal goals that will challenge them to grow. Kids message us. They call us. They write us letters about real stuff. We get real because this is real.

While all of these challenges and worries can be frustrating, none of them is insurmountable: “[We] have been assigned this mountain to prove that it can be moved” has become our district byline.

A student once told me, “A good teacher believes in you; A great teacher makes you believe in yourself.” And THAT is our final challenge of the school year: to believe that even though nothing seems okay, it will be in the end, and if it’s not okay, we just haven’t reached the end. Yet.

What was your biggest surprise or success with on-line learning?

Biggest surprise: How much the kids and teachers missed each other and the routine of school! I always tell my kids, “You don’t have to go to school. You get to go to school.” Now they actually agree.
Biggest success: Next year, both teachers and students will appreciate each other more.

What are the advantages/disadvantages to distance learning?

Advantage: learning new ways to do old things.
Disadvantage: missing the human touch. And that IS essential.