It is March 26th, 2020. I look anxiously at the clock awaiting 4:00 pm. I turn on the T.V. and stare blankly at the screen. As I watched Governor Kay Ivey’s press conference, every minute seemed to get longer and longer. Suddenly, time stood still. The words I never thought I would hear emerged: “All public schools in Alabama will remain closed for the rest of the year.” I felt powerless and confused.
As the news of Alabama schools closing for the rest of the year began to surface, I started to reflect. I reflected on my students, my instruction, my colleagues, and my second home. It was at that moment that I decided to challenge myself as an educator. As a teacher, how was I going to continue being highly responsive to individual students’ needs? How was I going to continue to enthusiastically introduce new topics by using props, stories, jokes and costumes? How was I going to continue creating authentic lessons that empower all students to make real world connections? More importantly, how was I going to do all of this virtually? What I soon discovered was distance learning has no limits.
In the coming weeks, I began to flip my classroom from a physical space to a virtual space. Slowly, I learned how to transform my previous instruction into something more powerful than I could have ever imagined. My instruction, student relationships and colleague collaboration were all given "virtual makeovers.” Our activities were redesigned through Google Slides and included my personal Bitmoji. Our class mascot was transformed into a Bitmoji Flat Stanley and delivered to students in the mail. Our P.E. time became “Workout Wednesday” and Coach leading pound classes on Google Meet.
Though times are hard, I could not be more grateful for this new opportunity. Challenging myself and embracing digital learning has been the greatest professional development I have ever gone through. Nothing can prepare an educator for this kind of invaluable experience. It is raw, it is real, and it is not something you can learn from a textbook. Above all, my outlook on learning was given a “virtual makeover.” I am truly thankful to be a teacher during the Covid-19 pandemic. Educators, as we move forward, might we share our instructional ideas with each other. In doing so, we can help make this experience a true learning opportunity for us as well as our students.
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