What's the Plus?
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What's the Plus?

Within 26 hours my whole world was turned upside down.

By Jennifer Click

It took 26 hours from the first notification of all non-essential activities being cancelled to full school closures. My colleagues and I are having an incredibly difficult time processing this. Because this isn’t just a job to us. This is my calling and these students have become my kids. I am grieving the school year. I feel like I have lost a loved one and didn’t get to say goodbye.

I know that we have digital communication and the possibility of returning in April, but that doesn’t change how I feel now. I am scrambling to answer questions from students and families. Answers that I don’t have. Answers that no one has.

I hope that as a society, we re-evaluate how we look at schools and teachers as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The educational system is important for families in so many ways. Schools provide so much more than academics, they provide meals, safety, comfort, experiences, milestones, and celebrations that the nation now recognizes as needs. It’s taking a health crisis for us to appreciate the old adage: “You don’t know what you have until it’s gone.”

For levity, I have read all the social media posts from parents who now homeschool their students. They laugh and joke about “suspending their students” or “oh, so maybe he does act like this at school” while recognizing the challenges that teachers face. My hope is that when the smoke clears, our appreciation of teachers, schools, and the teaching profession increases exponentially.

This experience gives our nation a chance to hit the reset button on how we view teachers and schools. In the meantime, I’m doing everything I can to let my students know that I’m there for them, and that I love them.

Many of my friends are teachers; here a few ways that we are supporting students during this crisis:

  1. We are communicating regularly through any means possible. This includes any and all social media, Remind, and email. We are giving updates about closures, resources, and curriculum.
  2. We are redesigning our entire curriculum to provide support for students to learn remotely. We are recording lessons, finding video links, writing or rewriting assignments to make them fit.
  3. We are addressing the needs of the whole child. We are making sure students know where to get meals and where to go for help. We want to make sure all students are comfortable and are feeling strong. I have had conversations with students to make sure they are healthy physically and mentally.

Our students become our kids. We are now stepping beyond the classroom to provide as much support as we can. Their worlds were rocked in the same 26 hours as mine. So now, we can work through it together and come out better because of it.

Jennifer Click teaches 10th and 11th grade chemistry and AP chemistry at Edison High School in Fresno, California. She is a 2019–2020 Teach Plus California Policy Fellow.

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