The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted all of our lives. For me, this past year will probably be the most challenging one that I will ever experience in my teaching career (and this was only my third year). Remote teaching to start the year forced us to make huge shifts in our practices (and quickly). Teaching both hybrid and remotely towards the end of the year was like teaching two entirely different classes back-to-back. It often felt like survival, needing to focus on one day or even task at a time. Adding onto these feelings, we had worries about our own health and safety in our homes and families, as well as our staff, students, and families.
Everyone - school staff, students, and families - had to survive the year in any capacity that we could offer. I truly appreciate my students for their positivity, focus, and adaptability. They are amazing five and six year olds who learned how to behave in a remote setting which meant taking turns to speak, dealing with technical difficulties (e.g. patiently staying on the call when I disconnected), navigating video call functions independently ("___, click on your microphone, please!" or "Click on the red button to leave and come back!"), listening through distractions, and carrying conversations with me and others - just to name a few. We were able to build a strong and loving classroom community despite our circumstances, and every student showed growth in their confidence and academics. We were even able to engage in thoughtful discussions around social justice, racial equity, and current events throughout our months together.
I am grateful for my students' families for their communication and support. It was a team effort to make sure that our children had the best experience possible for such a unique kindergarten year. I owe it to my families for their understanding with the limits of teaching kindergarteners remotely, yet having trust in that what I was doing was contributing positively to their child's education.
Through teaching in a pandemic, here are some of my takeaways from this year:
Next school year will be interesting to say the least, as it is looking like all students will be expected to return to school in-person. For now, we can finally take a break and have a fresh start in the fall. What a huge weight off of our shoulders. We are coming out of this stronger.