Teaching Primary School during a Pandemic (A guest blog)

This is not me (Jim, Foundation President) with the blog this time.  Given the unique situation education is dealing with, I reached out and asked teachers what they are doing with their classes, their impressions of students and the start of the school year.  It is easy for me to give observations on a regular school year and curriculum, but with this year–I’m not in the middle of things and this is a school year like none other in a long, long time.  Education theory is great–but a plan only works up until the bell rings and the reality of a classroom takes over.

The author of this is Alison Anderson.  She is a teacher in the Ball-Chatham School District and has more than a decade’s experience teaching at the elementary school level.  Her focus is on the kids and how they are handling school during a pandemic.

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We know the COVID-19 buzzwords: Cough, quarantine, social distance, hand-washing, pandemic, virus, hand sanitizer, and isolation.   As a teacher, we have a second set of words as we try and teach students in a unique situation: hybrid, remote, platform, zoom, meets, paperless, masks, am/pm sessions, half-a-class, homeschool, and cohort teaching. 

    Hybrid learning began this week in my fifth grade classroom. I couldn’t be more proud of the way forty-six 10 year-olds behaved and adapted to their new learning environment. Desks were distanced appropriately, every child came in masked, focused (as much as a 5th grader can be) and ready- to -go, especially since these kiddos had not been in a classroom class since March 13. In every other year of teaching I’ve done, the first week of school is used to get routines in place. The year starts slowly. Not this year! My students, all of our students actually, came in ready to learn right away. No downtime! They asked for homework on the first day!

    I knew that this year would be different. I worried and struggled with it from the day school ended for summer last may.. I planned for this reality though. I’m lucky to be in a great professional environment where everyone works as a team and we all work for our students….every day….I knew that I could handle the challenge. I am most surprised we have had no problems with behavior or disciple. Our 5th graders have buckled down and social distance/wear masks/ride a bus/stand in a line, etc. without complaint. Kids adapt and overcome as well, maybe better, than adults. The way we’ve started has convinced me that no matter what the rest of this pandemic time holds, students can handle it. They are so much more resilient than I think anyone gave them credit for! One week down, many more to go. We can do it!!