Teaching will be online for the foreseeable future

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As the COVID-19 Pandemic runs its course, many governments are implementing measures that limit the number of people congregating in public places. Such measures have disrupted the normal functioning of schools and universities. The duration of such measures has been extensive – and is likely to continue for a certain time until a vaccine becomes available.

Across the country the pandemic has rewritten the syllabus for the 2020-2021 school year. Teachers are facing formidable challenges, whether educating students in masked-up, socially distant classrooms or virtually, from computer screens.

How do you feel? Do you feel uncomfortable? Do you feel exhausted? Do you also feel excited? Sure you do. But you are not alone.

You were used to hearing and seeing students interacting with each other but in the world of Zoom, you don’t hear a laugh, you can’t observe body language. What once felt like joy in the classroom quickly turned into emptiness.

It feels worse because you have built years of what has worked well for you. You have the background, and you have the experience. You have the expectation. Ignorance was bliss for you on the job several years ago. Now, you’re trying to live up to that expectation when the world has changed so drastically. But these unfortunate circumstances have allowed you to really try some new things.

So do you change your expectations? Do you lower them? Do you overhaul everything for the sake of adjusting to the pandemic? Definitely not. Keep your expectations high in magnitude and low in rigidity.

Create a bigger picture to discover the avenues that strive towards the high expectations your students deserve, and select those paths as the decisions you will make as a teacher for your students at this time.

For the longest time, you viewed distance learning as limiting your quality of instruction. You thought you wouldn’t be able to do this because it just wouldn’t be the same through Google Hangouts or Zoom. It turns out you were right. It isn’t the same. But at least you have a choice and willingly or not, you have decided to accept those limits, embrace the potential and create promising outcomes.

Is everything perfect? Absolutely not. And there’s a long way to go. There will be lots of magical moments and wins, with lots of failure. But it is a new path to follow.

And the kids? Many of them are already super tech-savvy. They’re turning their cameras on. But many others have problems such as Internet access, home settings etc.

“You may begin the quiz” you tell them only to be reminded that you have not posted the quiz yet. You are also reminded to take attendance.

This has been without a doubt the most draining, challenging, emotional, disappointing and exciting year you have experienced as a teacher. Each day, you feel like your limits are tested. However, you are learning so much about yourself in the process.

An effective teacher is no stranger to struggle, both chosen and imposed. The best teachers have probably chosen some struggle before like leaving the textbook to come up with memorable lessons. Teachers make chosen struggle for professional pleasure.

Gone are the days of sharing your lives with colleagues. Teaching has always been isolating.

How about parents? Many families are making it work, but others are unable, and this add to student struggles.

So there it is.  Hands. Obstacles. Probe.

Teachers steady the ship. When this episode is ultimately relegated to memory, your students will reflect not on the English or any other lesson, but on the one core truth that unites educators the world over:

“They had every reason to quit, but never did.”

Take every day as a journey, and the journey itself is hope. We can only hope.

Kudos to all educators!