Tag Archives: dailyprompt-1893

Teaching in the Time of COVID

1 Apr

Re-reading my last published post, just when COVID hit schools, it reads outdated and from long ago. Without a doubt, the pandemic has accelerated the adoption of educational technology and has placed us on new ground in every facet of our daily lives, setting in motion a new way of living and interacting. In no other field did it have a greater impact on our interactions and ways of doing things than in health and education.

As a traveling international teacher, the pandemic brought me home to a new world of teaching and learning. As I attempted to gain ground in a stumbling and often chaotic environment, I, like almost all teachers and students, had to adapt to new ways of teaching and learning. Since my return to North America, I have taught virtually, in-person, hybrid, one-on-one, and in clusters of 4 and 6 to whole class teaching, ranging from kindergarten to graduate level courses, and switching between Zoom, Google Apps, and Microsoft Teams.

Here’s what teaching in the time of COVID taught me…

Photo by Yaroslav Danylchenko on Pexels.com

My first position was working in an elementary school, where most of the time was spent teaching the art of disinfecting properly a work area or oneself. Significant time was spent on teaching kids how to properly wash their hands, disinfect any and every object they touch, properly wear their masks, and walk on the right side in a straight line while keeping a distance between each other.  

Overnight collaborative learning and teaching were a thing of the past, and students were to remain in their seats do work silently and independently while masked at all times. Playing tag was a no-no, and sharing an eraser became a major offense. Whispering and chatting were frowned upon even during snack time. Here we were, in 2020, proud of the advancement of technology that we have made as a society, reduced to basic hygiene and worksheets.

Schools closed, and schools reopened just to close once again. Teach virtually;  just get online, check in with students, have them move around a bit, provide worksheet practice, and don’t worry if they don’t show. Continue the dance and don’t ask questions. Everyone talked about the lack of engagement and students’ boredom while we bid our time for schools to reopen, thinking that all will be as it was once we are back, face to face. For those teachers who had the training and felt comfortable with the tools available to them, they developed new ways of engaging students, providing feedback, and assessing learning outcomes while learning about new learning management systems, online learning platforms, and video conferencing. We googled our way into looking presentable on platforms and gave it our best shot.

My experience of working from home and attempting to reach all of my learners brought home the awareness of how real and deep the digital divide is, with some of my students not having access to the technology and/or internet connectivity to take part in online learning. Added to that reality was the evidence that those same students were going hungry and lacked proper breakfasts and lunches now that schools were closed. Depression and loneliness were setting in for young people and older ones as social isolation became the norm and social interaction a thing of the past. As much as we wanted to be invested in teaching, and as much as students needed to be invested in their learning, we were all slowly moving away as anxiety and feelings of being overwhelmed took hold of us.

Teaching Today …

The pandemic disrupted traditional teaching and learning models, resulting in changes in the way teachers deliver instruction and in the way students engage with the material and with one another. Schools are now back to traditional in-person teaching and learning, but there is a little resemblance to what once was… A shortage of teachers is now the new pandemic. Having either retired or altogether changed professions, the teachers that remained are now faced with a student population that is academically struggling to catch up and lacking in its desire to either collaborate or even converse at length with one another. Students, when given time to play, opt for a tool instead of a pal.

During these struggles, I remain hopeful and insistent as to the abilities of technology to provide personalized learning and to engage learners from all over the globe to learn and collaborate together, and it is with this in mind that I opted to teach online and to explore and experiment with the types of activities and strategies I can use to engage and entice my students to want to learn more and create collaboratively.

In my next blog entry, I will share some of the online challenges I’ve had along with the successes I’ve enjoyed as I worked with teachers and student teachers in different parts of the world wanting to innovate and learn new ways of learning and teaching. As GPTchat is the topic of the hour, I will share some perspectives on its place in teaching and learning in my next blog entry.

Chat GPT and its quote on learning …

“I like to learn about, analyze, and understand complex systems.”