• Rachael Waldburger

Strange New World: Day 1

It's Day 1 of my 3 week pseudo-quarantine, and I have some thoughts. The last few days have been too busy to concentrate on much of anything, with trying to adapt my lessons to an online format, gathering materials for students without internet, and just trying to keep up with the flood of information. Yesterday, which should have been one of my last days with my students before our 3 week school closure, ended up being a scramble to get books from lockers and materials organized for parents to pick up. I didn't get to see my students. I didn't get to tell them how much I would miss them over the next few weeks. Yesterday was a rough day.


But today is different. Today I got up at 6:30 like normal, even though I don't have to be at school. I got dressed and ate breakfast and sat down at my computer to send off my first daily lessons email to my students and their parents. I reminded them to please contact me with any questions or concerns, and then I sat back to wait.


I had "finished" my day's work by 8:24 in the morning.


Now what?


The next few weeks looks like a long, dark tunnel from where I sit at my laptop, waiting to answer emails that may or may not come. It's easy to get discouraged. After all, I became a teacher because I love the interactions I can have with my kids, not because I wanted to talk to them through a screen.


But then I got my first email. It was from a parent, and it simply thanked me for all the work I'd put in over the last few days to get materials organized for her child. All at once the fear and the uncertainty faded, because even though my means of information sharing has changed, my purpose hasn't. I am here to help, even if it can only be from a distance. I can still show love to my students. I can still encourage higher-level thinking. I can still be a calming influence in a world that is anything but.


So in addition to my new role as online teacher, I'm setting a goal for myself. It is so easy to focus on the negatives of our current situation, so I will combat it with one positive thing I notice every day. Today's observation is easy: over the last 4 days, my coworkers have shared countless resources via email, Facebook, and in person in an effort to help prepare students. I've received emails from education companies offering their products for free. I'm a part of several education communities online that have created and shared multiple materials for others to use during this time of transition. In 4 days, I went from having no materials to having more than I can use for the next month. It's amazing what we can do when we come together and focus on a common goal.


Today, be on the lookout for the helpers in your community, and consider what you can do to join them. We'll get through this, one way or another, but it will be a much more pleasant journey if we help each other along.

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