Give children a break in this unusual year of schooling

When I am frustrated, I either cry or write. Today I’ve done both: School is

When I am frustrated, I either cry or write. Today I’ve done both:

School is hard right now.

I work as a teacher in a children’s hospital. In my current classroom, each of our students is in a different online platform – even the two students in the same district in different schools. We are working in Google Classrooms, Google Meets, Slate, Slack, Seesaw, Teams and Zoom to name a few and then the formats created by the different schools to use those and then by the different teachers using them for different classes.

Valerie Player.jpg
Valerie Player

This is in NO WAY a criticism of the teachers. I have a mere five students in class right now and I’m about to crack. It’s the situation and the impossibility of it. And now we are asking these same teachers to teach in person AND to keep providing online content, too. It’s too much!

The directions for accessing assignments are complicated. Teachers try to help by creating additional documents and videos to explain how to access the documents and videos.

There’s a meme out there, something like, “Click the zimam link and open the dillydally, then scroll past ziblecreek and hidey hey and you’ll find three choices of knick knack to choose from today.”

It’s truer than we’d like to think…

The cybersecurity challenge now facing the hospital is adding to the complications. I am unable to access documents teachers have posted to websites and YouTube. I am unable to send and receive documents kids need to print or scan.

The demands on these kids is so different from anything any of us experienced in school. IT IS HARD. It is hard for typical kids, and the kids we work with are far from typical. They are lost. They are frustrated. They are confused. They are scared about failing. They feel stupid. They feel hopeless. They are with us because they already had mental health issues before school poured more down upon them.

The big world outside tries to make us think that our kids are going to “fall behind.”

Behind what? An artificial timeline that was created in 1892 born out of Civil War Reconstruction and later modified to end by the time males were able to be drafted? Now, it’s institutionalized and a funding formula. No one magically begins and ends learning because we’ve assigned an age-based cohort. We may as well assign them by horoscope.

All this is my way of saying that no one is going to be behind in life because they couldn’t access an online portfolio to insert evidence demonstrating they have seen each content standard to counteract any negative outcomes on standardized tests that come from a whole other set of social constructs.

So my advice to anyone asking? Let’s ease up this year.

Maybe we encourage our kids to READ. Real books. Books that can inspire and teach and open up new possibilities. Maybe we offer them a chance to practice basic math skills they’ll need to budget for groceries and buy a car and maybe a home. Maybe we look at the seasons and weather and explore what the world was like 100 years ago and what it might be 100 years forward and consider what we think about those changes. Maybe we take a moment to look at current events and various cultures and try to find what unites us rather than divides us.

Maybe this is an opportunity to rethink what is most important in these times. Maybe we have the gift of opportunity to bring more emotional intelligence into our academics. Maybe we focus on adaptability, patience, communication, curiosity and learning desire, critical thinking, problem-solving, creativity, a strong work ethic, grace under pressure, positive attitude and compassion.

Academics are important. Of course, they are. We need book smart people to help change the world for the better. I’m suggesting we take a collective educational breath and let our kids catch their breath. We can use this opportunity to keep our kids healthy physically and just as importantly, healthy emotionally.

Valerie Player is a longtime educator, special education teacher, and St. Luke’s Children’s hospital educator and academic liaison.

Related stories from Idaho Statesman

Source Article