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Week 2 – Teaching Remotely – NYC in Pandemic

March 30, 2020 am31 7:55 am

There’s a lot to worry about today. Medical supplies, and infection rates. Emergency rooms. Goods in stores. Mortgage. Rent. Politics. Am I going to get it?

In the midst of all this, tens of thousands (how many are we? sixty-thousand? seventy-thousand?) New York City teachers, and thousands more counselors, therapists, paraprofessionals – we’ve reached your kids – set up something like classes – made an attempt to teach. (Also supporting – parent coordinators, school secretaries. Administrators and central staff are also involved, most support us, though some have gotten in our way, that’s a different post).

What we are doing is strange. There are elements of classes, but your kids are home. Watch a video? That’s homework. Answer questions? That’s homework. Interact with a teacher live on one of many platforms (I use Zoom and Google Meetup)? That’s homework. It’s an all-homework, all-the-time model of schooling.

(Nothing could make starker the inequities in our system than an “all-homework” school – when 10% of our students do not have a home – but that’s another discussion)

Some teachers are loud – there are things wrong, and they must be addressed. There was evil done by bureaucrats, and there must be a reckoning. Information has to be shared and gotten out there. It is important that we have the vocal few.

But most teachers are slogging away. Planning for lessons when there is no template. Interacting with children in ways they are imagining and reimagining on the spot. Making hundreds of thousands of mistakes every day, and correcting them.

Teaching last Friday was much better than teaching last Monday. But it was still bizarre, and often wrong, and yes we are closer but no, I do not know to what.

There’s an army out there, an army that is used to knowing what we are doing, an army that is suffering, because today we do not know. But working hard all the same, occupying your children’s time. Probably teaching them a little. Probably giving them the sense, or the illusion, that at least something during this crazy time, something, is, if not normal,  vaguely familiar.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Gloria Brandman permalink
    March 30, 2020 am31 11:32 am 11:32 am

    As a retired teacher, I’ve had lots of time to talk with teachers and read their articles, blogs, tweets, FB posts, and my heart and thanks goes out to all my former colleagues, and to all educators. This is a stressful time for all of us, and to also be required to do this incredibly difficult job is addition to just living ones life, and also going above and beyond for students and their families, I’m awed. THANKS!


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