My placement this service year is at St. Stephen’s Episcopal School; I teach Social and Emotional Learning. This past week, we transitioned to teaching entirely in a remote setting due to the rising number of Covid cases and growing public health crisis in our region. All students and teachers were working from home and connecting via Zoom calls.
I was anxious to begin teaching virtually, not sure what the dynamics of my all-too-familiar classes would be like anymore. I doubted I would be able to maintain the same rapport with my students and that the relationships I had poured into and nurtured these past months would wither. I feared that the distance would take a toll on all of us very quickly and that the children’s education itself would suffer. There is no denying that virtual learning is tough on students that are used to the structure and support of a classroom day in and day out.
Fortunately, those concerns, for the most part, did not come to fruition. It was a relatively smooth transition and students were very cooperative and gracious as we adjusted to this new reality. There were only a few technical glitches (my volume spontaneously stopped working in the middle of my Kindergarten class and I was talking to silence for a good 15 minutes!). I credit all this to the part-time virtual learning we had already grown familiar with this school year and all my colleague’s tireless efforts in preparing for this transition. Our dean cautioned us that these next few weeks we will experience some “growing pains” as we get accustomed to the new style of teaching, but I feel we are equipped to push through.
I would be lying if I said I wasn’t sad this week; I miss seeing my students and fellow teachers in person. I look forward to the day when we can be together again. In the meantime, I ask for prayers for the school and our country. I hold out hope that this will only be a temporary way of life.
(The picture I included was taken when St. Stephen’s was still operating in-person, and only half of the class was streaming in virtually. However, the photo still illustrates what my workplace looks like now- that is, staring at a screen and seeing into the living room and bedrooms of my students!)