Academics or Pandemic: Will Schools Ever Return To "Normal"?



When I realized that the corona virus pandemic was here to stay and the numbers of people who contacted this disease was increasing, I talked to some of my colleagues about teaching the students. Their response was “remote teaching”. My response was “teaching online?” At first, I thought it was a ludicrous idea. Before the pandemic, I could not have imagined that tens of thousands of working adults could convert 1.1 million students from working face to face with human beings to working with tablets, monitors shifting digits and images, but I was wrong. In a week and a day, we moved school operations into a totally different forum, I was impressed by the efficiency level of the educators in the Nation’s school system.

I marveled at the notion that corporations like Microsoft, Zoom, and Google offering free services to help educators surveil their students and monitor their interactions with their platforms. It was amazing to see how billion-dollar entities would so willingly enhance platforms they usually offer for thousands of dollars to Fortune 500 companies for children as young as five years old. Educators and parents are now experiencing some things that they never did before. They are experiencing the unexpected norms.

Parents : It’s a boon for parents. Parents can visit our classrooms whenever they want by literally sitting next to their children, thereby avoiding the whole “parent-teacher conference” that they never attended. Parents don’t have to worry about babysitting. They can add about six hours to whatever screen time limits they set on their devices. Parents are now realizing how important it is to collaborate and communicate with teachers.

Teachers: The bell no longer dictates whether we pee, talk, or finish that last cup of coffee. The phone will send us notifications when we’re needed. Not eating lunch or having microwavable lunches are replaced by leftover food and desirable snacks that can be eaten without distractions from students.

Teachers: Worrying whether students might show up to class because now educators just have to monitor whether a student logged in and little more. We won’t even need to mettle in emotions and bonds because the only relationship we need is between ourselves and Wi-Fi access, no matter how unevenly distributed. They can turn in assignments whenever/wherever/however and just hope Google can give them the answers if their teacher isn’t online at the moment.

Teachers: Won’t be able to tell whether the administrator is observing our classes because we can’t see the tablets or clipboards. The best administrators don’t have to worry about typing up observations because they can just take screenshots of listless faces across separate rectangles and make determinations from right there.

It is now more than three months and we are still out of school. It now seems that school year 2019-2020 will historically end without the following:

Proms and Graduations: Graduation, prom and spring formal season has arrived. But this year, tux and gown rental stores are empty. Caps and gowns sit somewhere on warehouse shelves. Because of the pandemic, students won’t have the chance to navigate these rites of passage — or the platitudes about endings turning into new beginnings. As a result, they’ve lost out on what could’ve been a photo finish: spring sports championships, honors assemblies, posed shots outside of banquet halls, candid pictures from dances in school gymnasiums or cafeterias, and, perhaps most frustrating of all, photos clad in graduation regalia. No one will be decorating their mortarboard with jokes about student loan debt.

Personalized Report Cards: The coronavirus pandemic has brought unprecedented challenges to educators throughout the world. Schools have had to change entire instructional programs in widely varied contexts with inequitable access to technology and other vital resources. School closures and requirements for social isolation have created untold hardships for students and their families, especially those with multiple children at different grade levels, whose parents cannot stay at home, whose English may not be the primary language, and where the parents are also teachers. When it comes to grading, encouraging and supporting student learning means ensuring grades accurately reflect what students have learned and are able to do, not when or how they learned it. As schools physically close and move to online learning, most attempt to accomplish this is impossible. In schools requiring to give grades for the current term, even when not all students have adequate online access, grades are typically based on evidence of student learning gathered up to the time of school closure.

Teachers cleaning, packing, and preparing for the new class. Teachers, preparing for the end of the school year typically involves entering final grades, preparing for awards day ceremonies, and packing up your classroom. The latter might be the most disliked part, am I right? I’ve always been required to at least pick up everything from the floor so that the janitors can clean and wax the floors for the next school year. In some cases, I have had to move classrooms too, so packing up my classroom brought on a whole new meaning. This school year 2019-2020, there will be many challenges it will not be the same as previous years.

Classroom resources and supplies: Gone are the days of standing in line for hours at local supply shops for classroom aesthetics and materials. As students head back to school, the vast majority of teachers are normally buying their own materials to provide kids with well-stocked classrooms and conducive learning environments. Ninety-four percent of American public school teachers reported paying for school supplies out of their own pocket in the 2014-15 school year, according to a Department of Education survey. Those teachers spent an average of $479 which is more than the “Teachers Choice” funds that are allocated to each teacher. Will teachers be buying school supplies from retail stores like Lakeshore, Amazon, Target etc. or will they be making use of the FREE resources on teacher websites and Teachers Pay Teachers website.


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