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A Teacher’s Opinion 1: An unforeseen byproduct of distance education

As teachers we have been given an insurmountable task, to deliver high quality, culturally responsive and sustaining, rigorous, authentic, and original curricula to our students all while online but yet mimicking the in-person feel. During this time of Comprehensive Distance Learning (CDL- that’s right I feel like my father who used to drive truck for a living), I have more meetings in a week than I would normally have in a month. Every time I open my inbox there is another invite or request to meet about curriculum, new approaches, better things we can do, more things we are now required to do, more difficult conversations we need to have with students, all while we try and juggle actually meeting with our students.

Now coupled with all this we are also required to invest hundreds of dollars into our own home office spaces, because lets face it, trying to screen share on Zoom with forty 12 year olds while screen sharing instructions, managing the online chat, and letting in late students is made infinitely easier with two screens. For some of our staff, especially music teachers this has required the purchase of microphones, speakers, and for others, lights, desks, chairs, keyboards, ergonomic pillows, you name it, we now have it. In this process we begin to see the breach of the unforseen byproducts of CDL. Suddenly you have all these teachers, who normally would never put themselves out into the world view, are forced to live-stream their lives 40 hours a week. We have to entertain, engage, and create content all while on camera. Suddenly, the shy teacher is on TikTok, a principal has gone viral, a kid has recorded a teacher on Zoom struggling with tech and has gone viral with the hashtag #okayboomer.

A profession that has been somewhat downcast or swept under the rug is now thrusted into the public eye and educators feel the gaze all the more when they are teaching and mom and dad are listening in a room over. Myself included, I have felt all these things. While home I have spent an easy $600 on my computer and equipment to get setup for distance learning, and while in quarantine have spent much more time indoors than ever before. This has lead to the deep-dive into my passion for cooking. Like so many other teachers during this time, we are working our fingers to the bone and yet, we feel this draw on our passion for life, a draw we must replenish with the other activities that make us happy. As a result, many of us are taking to social media, to the world, to the internet, and we are here for it.

I know that CDL has already caused a huge amount of teachers to leave the profession, as well as the risk of going hybrid, or in-person has swayed many educators to leave as well. I wonder how many of us will be swept off by another passion and opportunity. The tech skills we have gained, the creative hurdles we have overcome are just the beginning of what’s coming. Teaching will be forever changed by the COVID-19 virus, there is no way we will all go back into buildings, students included. Now that mega-corporations have seen just how much we can adapt under pressure, there’s no telling what we will be forced to do in the future. The world has been changed.

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