in the Manchester Essex Regional School District.
But I want to be an optimistic voice – don’t hate me if you’re sick of the “oh, it could be worse” or “I feel so blessed” contingent because well, it helps me get through the day to find silver linings each day. And, to be clear, many of my days have been hard, dark, frustrating, and un-fun and there have been some days when I have seriously contemplated quitting my job! Haven’t you?!
So here are the top 10 things this crazy COVID period has taught me as a K-5 Library Teacher and Team Leader:
#10 – Children expect so much less of us than we – or other adults, including Admin, parents, peers – expect of us. I truly believe K-5 kids don’t expect anything of their teachers at all but they appreciate, are comforted by, and feel connected to us, when we are just kind, honest, understanding and positive. This year, due to a retirement, I am being split between both elementary schools in my district after working in just one school for 14 years. My new “young friends” have been nothing but lovely, kind, even encouraging when I shared with them that I was nervous being the “new” teacher in their school and having to teach via Zoom.
#9 – Kids will be kids and convey their personalities via Zoom despite what we adults may have thought. This has been a lovely surprise! I can easily identify the extroverts and the introverts, the friends with ADHD or ADD, those on the Spectrum, and those who are just plain silly or immature.
#8 – Kids are resilient – like, SUPER RESILIENT. We often hold their hands through every challenge in the classroom. We witness helicopter parenting and some of us may be helicopter teachers too. Honestly, I am not so sure we give the majority of kids the credit they deserve, or even the opportunity, to just roll with the punches. See #7.
#7 – Rolling with the punches is often way easier for our elementary kiddos than our colleagues. So ya, COVID has understandably exposed insecurities of both parents and teachers in terms of education of young children. Meanwhile, the majority of our kiddos are just carrying on. We can learn from them and their “can-do” attitude. Basically, in hashtag terms it's #wegotthis and it’s our littles who are reminding us adults of this each day.
#6 – A story told, even via Shared Screen with a document camera or a link to StoryLine online etc., is still a story and our kids will sit back and relax and just listen to the story. They are soooo open to stories and don’t actually care how they are presented! Doesn’t matter if I share a story reading aloud at my rocking chair, or share a video. Stories make our kids happy – and smarter!
#5 – Our kids have stories of their own to tell. And while technology has created challenges with regard to sharing and communicating, our young story tellers are not deterred and we need to encourage them. They can share live on Zoom or post a video on Seesaw, Google Classroom, etc. The important thing is that we Library Teachers must encourage them to share, despite glitchy audio, limited time, and other COVID-related challenges – and yes, even if it means you don’t get through the whole Seesaw lesson you painstakingly put together over the weekend…there will always be another opportunity, another class to do the lesson, but probably not another opportunity to hear that same story shared with that same student with their same enthusiasm!
#4 – I knew I worked with amazing, creative, passionate, brilliant people in my own district, but COVID has exposed just how amazing, creative, passionate, brilliant and giving we teachers are – here in the Commonwealth and throughout the rest of the world. From car parades for students to rap songs about remote learning, from lesson plans shared via social media, from Zoom calls between colleagues near and far to share ideas, we teachers have one another’s back and it has made me appreciate that the teaching/learning community I belong to goes far beyond my district’s reach. I literally have felt kinship with teachers across the world who have been so encouraging on those darker days, and so inspiring every other day!
#3 – Haters are gonna hate in this world – but they really are in the minority! Parents and community members critical of the education system in the U.S., in my view, have every right to be. But I have found that doesn’t translate into criticism of the boots on the ground…parents, community members, strangers who hear you are a teacher have overwhelmingly been supportive and appreciative of our efforts. See #2.
#2 – What was that old proverb, “Those who can do, those who can’t teach”? Hmmm, I think COVID has sucked the wind out of that pithy expression. Teachers have rocked COVID in a way that entire governments, many educational leaders and even medical experts have yet to (unfortunately) come close to. Our ability to rebuild the plane while it's already in flight has done nothing less than demonstrate our talents. Yup, don’t think anyone will be using that old proverb much going forward!
#1 – We are going to come out of this period of remote/hybrid learning as better, stronger teachers. Yes, we may lose a few good ones to retirement or a new path after this challenging, chaotic period, but I suspect that this school year may very well weed out those in the profession who aren’t really meant to be in the classrooms and the rest of us will know that when it comes to teaching our kiddos, NOTHING can stop us!