In my head I’ve been thinking of kids as being in one of two groups at this moment (which is wildly oversimplified, I know):
- Kids who need the structure and normalcy in whatever ways we can offer them.
- Kids whose lives are completely thrown off right now and are unable to participate in any kind of educational experience.
Again, I realize this doesn’t even come close to including everyone. I promise I get that. Those two groups, though, help me think through what I want to be doing as a teacher right now.
This tweet was shared by several people I follow today.
For those children, of all ages, who fall into group #2, for whatever reasons and there are so many, it is too much to ask them to do school right now. Especially to do it without the full support of their teachers and peers. We may be here virtually but it is no where near the same thing as being there, sitting beside a child, listening to them, watching them, responding to them. In this time when many children are facing uncertainties, fears, anxieties, and quite possibly illnesses and losses, school may not be possible. That is totally reasonable. We shouldn’t ask children to do more than they can right now. Nor should we be placing any burdens on families in this moment. If kids are sleeping more, watching more tv, playing more video games, building with blocks, drawing, whatever it takes to care for themselves mentally and physically, we should celebrate it.
This includes families. If a family, especially with elementary aged children, is overwhelmed right now, school may not be possible. Moving into a completely new way of doing school requires support from adults for younger children. If those adults are working overtime, have lost their job, are working in ways that place them at risk of this virus, or so many other possible stresses, they may not be in a position to help their child(ren) navigate this new way of doing school.
On the other hand, for those children, of all ages, who fall into group #1, we need to be here to offer them whatever we can. For some children, continuing to engage with their teachers and peers, continuing to learn together, continuing to explore history and science and music and art together, will help them get through this time. The structures and routines they’ve known all year can’t continue in the exact same way, but we can offer them as much of the support from relationships and familiar activities as possible.
Picturing my 22 third graders I feel confident I have kiddos in both groups. Some have a parent who stays at home and is available to help them. Others have one parent and that parent is working from home and is not available to make sure they’re logging on to class and able to navigate things online. The families of my kiddos are dedicated to their children and support them in myriad ways. This moment is not normal. We need to be able to take a step back and do all we can to offer students what they need. And keep in mind that what they need may change at any moment. And multiple times.