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March 18, 2020

How I Am Supporting My Students During COVID-19

Friday was a whirlwind, to say the least. I spent my school day away from my students for a training in our building. I went from feeling so awesome from working with my colleagues all day to super emotional within 30 minutes.

How We Closed

Friday we received an email that we would have a staff meeting to discuss all that was going on. I can only assume that the meeting would of been for us to discuss how we would prep and support our scholars. But we never had that opportunity. During our dismissal Governor Wolf announced that all PA schools would close for two weeks beginning on Monday. During dismissal = we didn't get to say goodbye.

Before the announcement came out I was purposefully in the hallway to give weekend hugs to the kids I could see on their way to the bus. I missed them. I wasn't with them for two days. And they missed me, because they came running for hugs or even back for another hug.

How I Am Coping

Well, probably not well is the reality. As an educator, a career I was meant to do, I am left with the very real uncertainty that I may not go back this year. There is so much left up in the air and we are all just trying to get through this together. I was filled with anxiety as school is the safe place for so many of our kiddos. It is a place where they are guaranteed a meal. Would they get fed?! Fortunately as you have seen across the news, schools are still providing meals. But I am also left with the wonder of those who do not have internet, will they know?

As an educator we spend 180 days with our students. We develop a very real sense of a family. We laugh together, argue, cry together and love and play. To say I am grieving a loss is a very accurate description. I have gone through stages of grief, and still am. But I am constantly looking for a solution.

How I Am Supporting My Students

I have never been more grateful for Seesaw. I have used the app for a few years as a way to share work with parents. Now, it is used by me in a totally different way. I have been sharing videos of myself with my parents and students. Fortunately, 95% of my families are on Seesaw and will have access to my videos. I have been sending two videos a day. 1 of me reading to my littles and another of our Heggerty lesson. (note - I am posting the videos privately and will delete them after this craziness is over)The feedback I have had is amazing. Kids are talking to the videos. Responding to me with an I miss you too. My heart breaks. Because again, we didn't even get to say goodbye. What also hurts my heart are those educators who have zero way to contact their class. Those special educators who have seen every child in the school and are completely helpless without a single class of their own. America your teachers are hurting right now. We are not enjoying any moment of this. Are we grateful to be home with our own families? 100%, but we still have a whole family that we are torn away from.

My Next Steps

This may be overboard of me, but do I really care? This whole pandemic is out of the norm and to me that requires me to be out of the norm. I purchase about 4 $1 books for my students in a year. Essentially $80 well spent. Well yesterday I went and called Scholastic and had my book box delivered to my house. My plan is to do an un-boxing video for my kiddos. I ordered each of them a book that I plan to deliver to their house if school is closed past March 30th, our 2 weeks. After that I plan to set up a Zoom meeting to be able to have a group chat with my kiddos and we can read the story together. Why? Because I know that I bring them comfort. They know how much I love them and I do not want our distance to change that. The reality of being a teacher is that our students are carried in our hearts forever.

So do we know what the future brings for our classrooms? No. And the unknown is definitely the scary part. But together we will get through this. We will stand united and be the positive of this living history moment that we are in.