The amount of digital learning materials that have crossed my Facebook, my email, my Instagram, my Twitter, is astounding . As we dive into this Uncharted Territory, as teachers, we certainly want to serve our students in the best way possible. Since we had no warning and no preparation time it became clear that everyone was sort of shooting in the dark.
My district brought us together to make learning packets for 3 weeks. Those students needing special work that supported their goals were provided that by their teachers as well. It seems logical to go online but our reality is that many of our students do not have access to the resources online. When I say access, it’s not that they don’t have some connection like a parent’s phone, but with four kids in the house and the only internet being on a phone that’s not reasonable. These families are under resourced in the area of technology, therefore expecting all families to use online resources is simply unethical.
I called twenty of my 28 families today . I am so glad I did. It helped me verify that feeling like I’m not doing enough because I don’t have beautiful curated online interactive lessons made is simply not true. For our students, the simple phone call that I made today was what they needed. What their parents needed. A simple phone call to let them know that I care and that I am thinking about them. If they happen to have done some of the work sent home I celebrated with them. If they had not I asked them all about how they were feeling their time and what interesting things they did today. I asked ALL of my student to share something interesting about their time away from school.
Many of my families have one or both parents who are in the process a filing for unemployment. Many of my children are lonely. I heard uncertainty and frustration in the voices of the grown-ups that I spoke with today. I heard excitement and appreciation for my call in the voices of my students. We all miss each other. Although I don’t have any answers and I am faced sometimes with uncertainty and frustration myself.
I am not going to feel badly for not creating the beautiful online learning experiences that I would like to in a more controlled situation.( and with planning and training) For those who have students and families with that capability, that is a fantastic way of staying connected. My follow-up will be a good old note in the mail to my students… with a self addressed stamped envelope to encourage them to write back.
Hearing their voices reminded me that however we (students, families and teachers) are handling the ups and downs is the right way.
Eight more calls to make tomorrow. Can’t wait to hear their voices!