Imagine coming to work and being told that you had one day to completely change the way you do your job. It sounds like a bad dream, but over the past week thousands of teachers endured this exact experience. Let’s think about what this really means for the people who spend their waking hours educating our children. Teaching is already a tough profession. Most educators work long hours, and many are woefully underpaid. Yet, these teachers come to work every day, with smiles on their faces, ready to help our children to prepare for the real world. If this sounds like a challenging job, that’s because it is!
Well, over the past week, teachers have been on the front lines, as the coronavirus continues to take its global toll. District by district, state by state, and school by school, learning institutions throughout the world made the difficult decision to shut their doors and to continue courses via distance learning. This may not seem like such a huge change. Afterall, many professionals rely on video conference platforms such as Zoom, Skype, and Webex daily. For teachers however, this change has overnight, turned the educational process upside down, and has made an already challenging job, even more difficult.
Let’s think about what it means to be an online teacher. Many companies who offer online learning train their teachers for 3-4 months in the latest ed-tech tools, techniques, and management skills. Well, now teachers are having to learn these skills in 1 day. Yes, online teachers get to work from home, but think about what that means during current times. Even with their own children home and decreasing badwidth, teachers are now tasked with replicating the school environment from their own locations. This is not an easy task during “normal” times, let alone now. Then, there is the real challenge in getting comfortable with all of the technology required for teaching online. Many schools have done a great job in providing regular professional development and technology training throughout the year. Yet, what is happening now is as they say, a “different beast.” A skilled teacher may be comfortable using the latest ed-tech tools, but teaching online requires platforms that most schools would not include in standard tech training. Yet, here we are with schools expecting the teachers to become Zoom experts literally overnight. The list goes on, but clearly, the job of the teachers just got a lot more difficult.
None of us really know what the future holds. This could be a 2 week “adventure” or a long term change in how our children receive an education. Either way, even with all of the chaos that is taking place in our own homes, we must stop to appreicate what our teachers have gone through. Some countries and schools have had more successful transitions to online learning than others, and some teachers have adapted faster than some of their colleagues. Whatever the case though, it is difficult to think of another profession that would require these types of sacrafices and commitments. Let us all take a moment to realize and appreciate the commitment that teachers all over the world have made and continue to make to our children. There really our no words to describe the journey that our teachers have been on.
Whatever the future holds, education will continue to be a top priority for us all. While computers, websites, and iPads may enahance the educational process, it is the teachers who make it all happen