Teachers, students, and the State of Education

I started this blog post in May. For some reason I have been really struggling with writing. I think because so many things are in flux that it can be challenging to find focus. I want to change that. I am working on literally making a schedule of my day to help me find time to read, write, work on my side hustle, Two Giraffes Lularoe, I am both trying to simplify my life as well as find some order. It's a strange combination...Order and chaos. yet it is the life that I have now.
 
This time in my life, during the pandemic, education is at a cross roads. We have the potential to change the way we teach, change the way students have the opportunity to learn. In this scary time, we have the opportunity to make a powerful difference on education as a whole! 

I am a teacher. This past year I finished my 28th year of teaching. I have been an educator for more than half my life. Being a teacher defines me. I love teaching. I love the students, the challenge of unlocking their minds so that information can be delivered. Watching that "Aha" moment where the pieces connect and a light bulb goes off in their brain, lighting the path toward new knowledge.

I am a high school math teacher. I am not naive to believe that students come bounding down the hall to my classroom so that they can learn math. Math, in much of polite society, is not a favorite subject. It is one that people will openly confess, "I'm not good at..." It is a subject that people feel you are genetically predisposed to be successful or not successful at.

I never imagined I would be a math teacher and I tell my students each year that I had intended to teach science. When I got my first teaching job I taught a math class. Once you teach one class, each successive job assumes that you will take on math and before I knew it I was teaching math full time and completing a Masters degree in Math.

I love teaching math. It is a subject that I did well in but I was not fast. I took a long time to absorb information and worked really hard at it. I share this with my students too. Working hard is not anything to be ashamed of. Taking a long time to understand is not a flaw, but rather a way of thinking. I want my students know that we all learn at different rates. That our brains absorb information differently and we cannot compare ourselves with others, although that often is a hard sell.

would be out of The last day I saw my students was March 13. We were stopping school a week before Spring Break. This would give us two weeks to let things blow by. Kids were asking if prom would be canceled. At that time it seemed impossible that we would be out of school for that long. We went into quarantine or rather "Stay home, Stay safe!" I was still an educator but now teaching from home. This was an unprecedented time in our world and definitely in Education. I never imagined that there would be a time where I would be trying to deliver all my instruction online.

This method of instruction did not have the same dynamic impact as the classroom, not that it isn't possible, we just didn't have time. In less that two weeks we completely flipped our world and students were expected to learn from home. They were expected to manage their lives, caring for siblings or working to support their family. Job losses were, and still continue to be, massive and my students have been significantly impacted. Many are struggling to make ends meet with finances or food.

I was expected to forge on, providing opportunities to learn, even when those opportunities weren't being taken. It was a strange and frustrating position to be in!

Now here we are nearing the end of the summer. The virus hasn't slowed, instead is growing. Schools, for many, are expected to open, when, for people like me, I am afraid. I am not as worried for myself, but rather the idea that I could bring back the virus to Javad, whose body likely would be unable to handle it. I am not willing to risk my son's life. 

I also worry about my students. This is fa from ideal for them. Many don't have the skills to structure their time for school as well as all the other things on their plate, taking care of siblings, working, helping their families. Food scarcity is real for many of our families and I worry about them,

How do we know what is the best choice? We don't really. This is new and uncharted territory. Again, this is education through a new lens. How do we serve the undeserved? How to we support all? How can we make a diamond from this cola? I am not sure, but I am here...willing to help figure it out.

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