By: Nayelle Williams, Secondary English Education Major
I remember walking into McKeesport Area High School on January 6, 2020 anxious, determined and excited. My mind and heart was open for the new opportunity that awaited me. I was fulfilling my desire to be a lifelong learner and practice through experience. On March 13, 2020 I left the building as usual. I packed up my belongings and took some work to complete over the long, four-day weekend. Who knew that would be the last time I would walk through those doors, learn from Mrs. Metz’s instruction and physically teach and interact with my students? The COVID-19 pandemic has my emotions in a whirlwind. I am disheartened that I cannot do what I love. Since my school cannot operate on a digital or remote learning framework, my involvement has been limited. The only communication I have with my students is through email, Remind or while I am working at Giant Eagle. Our norm has been disrupted; however, I am still wondering if that is a good or bad thing? Although this is a global travesty filled with chaos, confusion and uncertainty, this state of emergency has allowed educators to get the recognition they deserve. On one hand, I see an influx of parents who find homeschooling challenging and tough. Many parents are vocalizing their admiration and appreciation for teachers who wear many hats on a daily basis. On the other hand, this pandemic is forcing education to be reevaluated on a district, state and national level. Educational equity and safety concerns are top priority. Moreover, we are seeing how critical technology is in education. As well as, teacher instruction and creativity without the policing of standardized testing.
As a result of not being able to teach, I have been assigned and challenged to conduct some personal, professional development. I have navigated through some educational websites that have relevant topics pertaining to COVID-19 and education. Here are some articles and my reflections or responses:
- Innovative Ways to Make Coronavirus a Teachable Moment, Sarah Gosner— https://www.edutopia.org/article/innovative-ways-make-coronavirus-teachable-moment
- Prior to this pandemic, my unit plan centered on the subject or theme of Responding to Change. Ironically, these current events are befitting for this unit and I was thinking about some lessons that I could make from this drastic, global change. I had considered various journal prompts where I would have students write their thoughts about the pandemic and how they responded to this change—both good and bad.
- This article aligned with some of my own lesson plans and ideas that I had for how to integrate the coronavirus into the classroom. I liked the idea of journaling and allowing students to share their stories about their time in the pandemic. This provides them a platform to speak their truth. Additionally, this article gave some suggestions on how to create video journals or podcasts where students’ voices can be heard.
- In my grad courses, we conducted a lesson on interdisciplinary learning and its effectiveness. I think this article provided some creative ways to get other subjects involved and working collaboratively. For instance, the journaling activity that can be used in an English classroom can also be integrated and used in a historical context for social studies.
- A Trauma-Informed Approach to Teaching Through the Coronavirus, Teaching Tolerance Staff—https://www.tolerance.org/magazine/a-trauma-informed-approach-to-teaching-through-coronavirus
- I absolutely loved this article and the abundant information it had. The text was rooted in a culturally responsive lens. It was apparent that the needs of the students were prioritized academically, emotionally, mentally, physically and socially.
- I think the overarching concept of this article is to be cognizant that a child has more to their lives than schoolwork. Many students are not adjusting to this change well. As educators, we need to be mindful that our students need us. We are there to advocate, educate, inspire, and offer a sense of security. Most importantly, we need to be approachable, adaptable and understanding.