As I shuffle back into the house from my morning walk with my dog, I hear that the coffee pot has finished running. That reassures me, as I know I will need a full six cups to stay alert today. This is the start of Week 3 of distance learning with my students thanks to the novel Coronavirus pandemic.
For the first two weeks of distance learning, St. Rose relied on families picking up work from school each Monday to be completed and returned the following week. After last week’s stay at home order from Mayor Hancock and Governor Polis, we have decided to send home iPads for students and embrace the reality of digital learning.
While I drink my first cup of dark roast, I start my agenda for the day. Respond to the three parent emails I received late last night. Try contacting the last few students who still need to log into our classroom website. Faculty teleconference at 10:00. Help my own children with their daily assignments. My mind wanders to one of my seventh-grade students, who I have not heard from since the last day we were in school. We found out last Monday that his mother passed away after battling cancer for over three years. Suddenly the inconveniences in my life seem insignificant.
Before I have had my USDA recommended allotment of caffeine, all four kids in my house are awake, dressed, fed, and ready to start their lessons. I fire up my computer to be available to answer student emails, parent messages, and questions from other teachers.
I feel confident that my students are learning. I feel confident that they will reach out to me when they need assistance. I am starting to screencast math lessons to support students who I know will need that extra support for tomorrow’s lesson. I have been talking with colleagues who have dabbled in teleconferences with their classes and I think I will start doing the same next week.
I fear that too many of my students lack the technology needed to make lessons run smoothly from home. I fear that too many of my students are hungry from being unable to get breakfast and lunch at school each day. I fear that some of my students won’t be able to attend St. Rose next year as a result of both parents having lost their jobs in the last week. Then I realize that I cannot let my actions be dictated by fear. I am reminded of some of my favorite saints. Just before her martyrdom, Joan of Arc famously said, “Fear is nothing, for God is with me.” Saint Augustine took it one step further when he stated, “Fear is the opposite of love.”
Whenever I feel like this change is too much for me, I am reminded that God has not abandoned us. The work of loving my students each and every day is a vocation to which God has called me. He gives myself and all teachers the strength we need each day to be a pillar for our communities. With a computer in front of me, a book in my hands, and a heart full of prayer, I am ready to take on the day.