Perspectives from the “Classroom”
While we navigate these uncharted waters and adjust to the changes, I have reflected on my perspective as both a teacher and a parent of a student. Looking outside the window in front of my new “classroom” desk, I see rare events taking place. Families are together for an afternoon stroll, children are riding bicycles, and dog owners are briskly walking their pets for extra physical activity. A once quiet, subdued, and introverted neighborhood looks more like an active park. People are talking, smiling, and even stopping to converse with their neighbors from a distance. A new social dynamic has taken place, and brought forth emotions and behaviors not normally experienced in our neighborhood. At this very moment, we all have something in common with the rest of the world. The effects of this commonality and the adapting interactions outside my window have given me a fresh perspective in regards to teaching.
As a teacher, my goal is always to integrate current events into my curriculum. Our entire learning environment has changed, so acknowledging our current situation is unavoidable yet the perfect opportunity to foster growth and innovation. In my AP Spanish 5 class, we compare cultural assimilation versus alienation; a conversation that has proven to be most relevant today. My students are challenged with these questions: In this new era, how do we assimilate and conform to the changes of the new culture of social distance and online learning? What lessons can we learn about how the human will and mind can adjust in a blink of an eye? The method by which we react to and express our diverse situations speaks to our individual development, and that of the school community. A new window of opportunity has fallen into our laps, and we are given a chance to reevaluate and modify our pedagogical approach to synchronous learning. We are bringing lessons to our students with our new context in mind and exploring different virtual possibilities. Our students are independently embracing the Zoom classroom environment in their own computer “windows” and taking these adjustments in stride.
In these past two months, our school community has bonded together in solidarity to guide our students through the most challenging event of our lifetime. As a parent of a high school senior, I have felt a sense of gratitude and pride in our administration and faculty. I am grateful for the smooth transition to “distance learning” and how quickly we have adapted. While we strive to maintain the integrity of academics, it is imperative that we acknowledge the importance of the social well-being of our students. Continuing face-to-face engagement and direct communication are two extremely valuable elements in preserving a sense of normalcy. My hope is that we can all look through our own respective windows and reflect on what we have learned, as we are all students of this ever-changing world of education.