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In This 2020-21 Pedagogical Twilight Zone, Value Relationship.

August 23, 2020

Thursday, August 20, 2020, was my first day of school for this COVID-19, 2020-21 school year. No students yet– the current plan is for students to return after Labor Day.

2020-21 promises to be a pedagogical Twilight Zone.

For teachers and administrators across the nation, the difficulty rests in trying to string days together to form some sort of continuity when the at-best predictability guarantee is only the day we are in and what we know in that day. Procedures and expectations are really confined to a single day. True, we might hope and wish and try to plan to make what happens today somehow logically connect to what will happen tomorrow, and as logical creatures, that is the way teachers and admin are attempting to plan for this school year, but even as we do so, we know that we are trying to construct a solid school year on a foundation that we already know simply cannot support the entire structure.

And still we plan. We must plan. And at this time of education during the pandemic, those plans are rife with contradiction.

Write all lessons in the online classroom platform, but also have paper copies on hand for students who do not have their computers on a given day.

Position student desks six feet apart, but fit all of the students in your classroom space when the number exceeds the number of those six-feet-distanced desks.

Require students to wear masks in class and elsewhere on campus, but have them eat their lunch in classrooms– maskless, of course– for about half an hour per day.

Offer students opportunities to work in groups, but observe social distancing requirements (??)

Monitor your classroom, but try not to move from your designated teacher area.

Clean the room every two hours with cleaner that requires 10 minutes to sit in order to disinfect surfaces even as you continue to monitor students by keeping them in the classroom.

In short, go right and left simultaneously but choose one.

None of the above is intended to criticize those trying to plan for a school year. I get it. We are all being asked to deny our socialization in a socialized setting. During the pandemic, we are being asked to operate systemically in a non-system.

So, what to do?

Prioritize relationships.

Focus on building and solidifying relationships with both colleagues and students.

Prioritize creating a collegial atmosphere. We are truly in this together, within our respective schools and in schools across our nation. Offer a colleague a word of encouragement. If there is need to criticize, let it be constructive criticism. In times of disagreement, disagree respectfully.

Prioritize establishing a teacher-student relationships. If you have in-person time with students, make the most of creating a positive atmosphere beginning on Day One because COVID-19 might not give you an in-person Day Two. If no in-person connection is possible (as in schools beginning the year online), still make an effort to get to know your students as people so that the learning experience is enriched via authentic relationship.

Amid such uncertainty, let us begin with what we know to be true:

Relationship transcends pandemic.

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6 Comments
  1. You and your colleagues and student are very brave. I pray you all will be safe. Jack

  2. David Alvarez permalink

    What an amazing post….your words framed what my eyes and ears have been telling me….thank you.

  3. I second the comment above about your bravery. And the one about how amazing this post is. Must be extraordinarily frustrating and surreal.

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  1. Mercedes Schneider: What Matters Most when Teaching During a Pandemic | Diane Ravitch's blog

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