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The Virus knocking at my school’s door. By Dr. Terance Shipman

Updated: Jun 11, 2020

The Virus knocking at my school’s door

March 2020, I was driving and listening to NPR as always, talk about the Virus as it began to get closer to Georgia. I talk with my students and push heavy that they stop sharing food, stop waterfalling (holding a drink and pouring it in someone’s mouth) and please wash their hands. I knew it was coming but didn’t know when. It hit a school on the other side of Atlanta. The school was closed a few days, then there were two more schools and so on. Atlanta is to connect, it was coming our way. The Virus would be knocking at our school’s door soon. Wednesday evening the news broke that we would be out the next week. Friday was a blur. It seems unreal. We were going home not for snow (hoping all winter for at least one snow day) but for The Virus. It’s a beautiful virus, when you look at a picture of it that was at our doorsteps ready to come in. I didn’t know that Friday would be the last day I saw my 6th grade class.

Jump in, teach and hang on for your life.

The first day of teaching online started and it was a lot. I had directions, lesson plans, and was excited to teach. I waited and waited for my students to do the assignments. Okay there is one, two, three and by the end of the day maybe 15. I talked about this for years, everyone doesn’t have the internet at home. I had to remind a young teacher once, as he said they can use their cellphones to do my homework. I told him; everyone doesn’t live like you.

Don’t let them fool you. I have gone to the public library, coffee shops and restaurants to see students and parents sitting there using the free WIFI. I’ve never been heavy on homework, because I know there are students faced with so many challenges at home. Parents have to make decisions between paying the internet bill or eating. Eating wins every time. Please stop letting the internet providers stop fooling you about free internet. If you owe them money guess what you’re not getting it. If you’re in an area they don’t serve, guess what you’re not getting it. 

There are some parents and students who just don’t value education. The parents didn’t do well in school, so they have low expectations or none for their children. Some students’ educational experiences have been filled of failure and negativity. If teachers had problems getting them to work at school, what makes you think it was going to happen at home?

So, here we go with online learning.

The expectations across the country were so high for teachers. In Georgia, one school system did this, fifteen others were doing fifteen different things. If students didn’t have devices some did packets while others did nothing. Many schools’ systems were hoping this would be for only a week or two. Teachers formed Facebook groups to seek advice, vent frustrations, cry and laugh at what was going on.

To do list across the country:

1. Lesson plans

2. Call parents

3. Have at least three to five meetings a week.

4. Have alive lessons daily several times a day

5. Take attendance

6. Be online on time 

7. Look professional when your online.

8. Make packets

9. No zeros

10. Be compassionate

11. Teach your students don’t worry about your children sitting there with you

12. Email parents

13. No worksheets

14. Learn and use Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet and whatever the favor of the day is and do it fast.

15. Try really hard to make sure no child shall fail.

16. Teachers being evaluated on their lessons and teaching.

17. You will be getting feedback on your lessons.

18. Stop giving so much work.

19. Post grades ( remember rule #15).

20. I can’t believe that somebody watching me (Silent guess while teachers were live).

Elementary teachers seem to suffer the most. Many of the students didn’t have devices. The ones that did you had to try to keep their attention. My heart went out to the kindergarten teachers. They taught their butts off. Many of them had to teach, take a break, and come back and teach little kids that saw a computer as a plaything.

The group of people that really saw what teachers’ parents do are. Social media was full of post of parents wanting school to reopen. Parents apologize many times for going off on teachers when now, they see it’s their child. There were many who said thank you. I really do appreciate and respect what you do. I didn’t know how hard this was. The country, well some of them, saw the value of teachers. 

Many teachers said the same students came online each day. They did the work, but many of them came for the interaction with their teachers and peers. They missed being at school too. They missed being in their safe place. They knew nothing but to go to school, but now the Virus said you have to stay home.

There was the Good, The Bad and The Real Ugly.

The Good

1. No teacher evaluations

2. No state tests

The Bad

1. No proms

2. No spring sports

The Real Ugly

1. Graduations

2. Saying goodbye to my students online

In 26 years of teaching and learning, I have never seen anything like this before. If it happens again, I think we will be better prepared. I really hope it doesn’t happen again. As we prepare for the new school year, school systems across the world are coming up with plan A, B, C, D, and so on. The Virus is still here knocking at doors. Waiting to see if you know how to answer its knock. We will teach online if call to do so. What many educators have learned through all of this is there nothing like being in that classroom. I miss my four walls, desks, chairs and students ready to find out how great they can be. There is nothing like it. You have to love it to do it. I pray that the Virus stops knocking at schools’ doors and let us get back to great teaching and learning in the classroom.

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