Arizona K12 Center Executive Director Dr. Kathy Wiebke reflects on teachers' work during this time of social distancing.Mar 26, 2020
“You are a strange species. Not like any other. And you'd be surprised how many there are. Intelligent but savage. Shall I tell you what I find beautiful about you? You are at your very best when things are worst.”
These are the words from an alien as he shares his observations about those living here on Earth in the 1984 film Starman.
The Arizona K12 Center is practicing social distancing to “flatten the curve” of COVID-19 by having employees work from home. Being by yourself 24/7 is an odd experience, and I find myself in social media spaces with greater frequency these days. As I scrolled through Twitter, I came across this post from an Arizona teacher.
“All I keep thinking -- what if last Friday was the last day of our physical school year? Did I laugh enough? Did I give enough attention? Did I give enough hugs? All I remember is having 45-50 students in each block, grading 140 essays, and finalizing quarter grades. Shame on me."
As I read this, I thought about the last days of school of my teaching career. I remember being focused on two things: ending the year on a high note and making sure my room was packed up appropriately so I could get my final paycheck. But, I knew when my last day of school was. It was marked on my calendar on the first day of school. It was as predictable as the sun rising and setting every day.
But nothing is predictable right now.
All I can say to this teacher and every Arizona teacher is: yes, you did enough; you do enough every day of the year. Your students will remember who you were and are as a person. Most importantly, they will remember how you made them feel.
We are in uncharted territory. This hit home for me last week when I learned a friend of mine who teaches special needs children in Rhode Island was at home designing online learning opportunities for her students. Her students thrive in her physical presence, and this plan was far from it. This is exactly what Arizona’s teachers are being asked to do. You are being asked to create online learning opportunities when you likely do not have the equipment or bandwidth to do it well. This is not what you signed up for, but it is what teachers do every day. They do their best to meet the needs of their students at any given moment.
I have seen schools work diligently so that those who count on school meals are not left hungry. Teachers have been true to form and made some incredibly creative videos. Parents and school leaders are reading to students online. None of this replaces the usual day-to-day interactions, but each person is stepping up and trying to do their part.
Here is what I do know: the buildings may be closed, but, if you look closely, you see teachers and education leaders hard at work making sure that learning continues in ways we could never imagine. Yes, we are #ClosedNotClosed.
None of us knows when this will end. What I know is this moment in time is forever etched in our mind and you will remember where you were, what you did, and how you made these days and moments count for Arizona’s students.